By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
Well its 48 hours and counting until the Celebration of New Federal Theatre’s 40th Anniversary Award and Gala!!
This a monumental milestone in the annals of Black History - make no mistake about it! From Ira Aldrich, to Paul Robeson, to Oscar Michaux, to Ossie and Ruby, to Belafonte and Portier, and all those in between, the great, near great, known, lesser known brothers and sisters who have graced the stage, daring to put their all out there to prove the legitimacy of Black theatre, drama, talent - 40 years of continued existence and excellence is no small accomplishment.
And yes, it’s time for the applause, the kudos; time to say encore, magnifique, marvelous, and moto bene to Woodie King Jr., for a monumental job well done.
Likewise to the honorees: Sidney Poitier, Ntozake Shange, Ruby Dee, Alicia Keys, Hon. David Dinkins, Imhotep Gary Byrd, George Faison, Amiri Baraka, Rev. Malcolm Boyd, Elizabeth McCann, Carla Pinza, Terrie Williams and National Black Theatre Festival (Sylvia Spinkle-Hamlin) - each an icon in their own right, and totally worthy of praise and accolades for their impact on our lives, our culture, and the multicultural blueprint of the country.
Presenters represent the who's who of entertainment - stage, screen, television - including: Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Townsend, Danny Glover, S. Epatha Merkerson, Lamman Rucker, Sonia Sanchez, Dr Mary Schmidt Campbell, Glynn Turman, Ted Lange, Tommy Hicks, Pia Lindstrom, Pamela Portier, Starletta DuPois, Garrett Morris, Susan Taylor, and Oz Scott.
Woodie King, Jr., acknowledged in a recently held interview, that the Black theatre would be nothing without the Black community. So it is likewise to our credit that we have had the cognizance to understand what a vital role they play in telling our story, keeping us entertained, translating our triumphs and tragedies; as well as giving us an opportunity to bask in the fantasy of suspended disbelief while they keep us thoroughly entertained.
Honorary Chair is none other than the great Maya Angelou; Chairs for the event are Laurence Fishburne, John Morning and Susan Taylor; with the glamorous Emmy Award-Winner Lynn Whitfield & Randall Pinkston (CBS News) serving as hosts of the evenings festivities.
The stars will be coming out on Sunday, May 22, from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm at the historical Edison Ballroom (240 West 47th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue)
Founded by Woodie King, Jr. in 1970, New Federal Theatre (NFT) has gone on to international acclaim for its bold mission to integrate African Americans, minorities and women into the mainstream of American theater by training artists for the profession, and by presenting plays by African Americans, minorities and women to integrated, multicultural audiences – plays which evoke the truth through beautiful, artistic recreations of ourselves.
Under Woodie King, Jr.'s stewardship, NFT presented over 280 productions in the last four decades including: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, What the Winesellers Buy, Reggae, The Taking of Miss Janie and The Dance and The Railroad. His directorial credits are extensive and include work in film as well as in theater. He has directed at the most prominent theaters across the country and has been the recipient of numerous awards from AUDELCO, The NAACP, Drama Critics Circle and an Obie Award for Sustained Achievement
Specializing in African American and minority drama, New Federal Theatre has brought the joy of the living stage to not only the African American community living on the Lower East Side, near NFT’s home at Henry Street Settlement’s Abrons Arts Center, but to audiences from all over the metropolitan area. NFT has provided emerging playwrights with the opportunity to have their works produced; and catapulted Black actors, directors and designers to national attention and sponsored numerous ethnic theater groups and event.
For information and reservations call or contact: (212) 838-2660 x 14.
We have come so far, got so very far to go, but as we move forward, we must celebrate each and every milestone along the way, and each and every person who stayed the course in spite of and because of the challenges, and the bigger vision that kept them keeping on. GDW
Stay Blessed &