Friday, July 15, 2011

Co-Chairs Lamman Rucker and T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh preside over the 'marvtastic' opening night festivities of the 2011 National Black Theatre Festival, August 1-6 in Winston-Salem, NC.  Founded in 1989 by Larry Leon Hamlin, and produced by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company, the National Black Theatre Festival attracts close to 60,000 people to Winston-Salem and the city welcomes festival visitors with open arms. 
The week long event features a wide array of theatrical productions from across the country and beyond, NBTF Fringe, National Black Film Fest, NBTF Poetry Jam,  Youth / Celebrity Project, National Youth Talent Showcase, TeenTastic, The Readers Theatre, Collegiate Play Reading Marathon, Larry Leon Hamlin Solo Performance Series, International Colloquium, NBTF Artists Networking Showcase, Workshops & Seminars, International Vendors Market, and Celebrity Receptions!  Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and The People’s Choice Award winner Lillias White’s solo musical show, “LILLIAS WHITE… LIVE!  AT BLACK THEATRE HOLY GROUND” is the opening night gala performance.   

Amun Ra Theatre in Nashville, TN boasts two productions in the festival: the international premiere of jeff obafemi carr’s “Route 66: Finding Nat King Cole” (directed by T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh) and “Before the People Came.”  "Route 66," which debuted last fall at Amun Ra to sold out houses and rave reviews, explores how an actor struggles to fill the dramatic role of the great Nat “King” Cole and how he comes to grips with a life-long calling to present the story of one of the greatest performers in American history. Written and performed by jeff obafemi carr. (Solo Performance - General Audience).  

"Route 66" is part of a festival double bill with "Dr. May Edward Chinn", based on the life of May Chinn, the first African-American woman doctor at Harlem Hospital, who landed on the ground floor of early cancer detection in the 1940’s; Written by Laurence Holder. (Historical - General Audience)  
 The shows take place at Wake Forest #2 - The Ring Theatre, 1834 Wake Forest Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27106, on Tuesday, August 2 at 3PM and 8PM, and Wednesday, August 3, at 3PM and 8PM.  
"Before the People Came," also written by jeff obafemi carr, returns after the big splash it made at the 2009 NBTF.  In this show, African animals rule the world.  But during a deadly drought the only salvation is a pear tree guarded by a fierce, rare liger.  Will the animals resolve their differences and unite for survival?  (Children’s Theatre).   
The show takes place at Wake Forest #2 - The Ring Theatre, 1834 Wake Forest Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27106, on Wednesday, August 3, at 10AM and 1PM.

Some of the many other festival highlights include:  a celebrity dramatic reading of Ifa Bayeza’s “A Charleston Olio” based on her new novel with her sister, Ntozake Shange; “ALL AMERICAN GIRLS: A NEGRO LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN,” The Layon Gray Experience & The Black Gents of Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA; “Da Kink in My Hair,” Trey Anthony Studios, Toronto, Canada; “Juneteenth Blues Cabaret,” Juneteenth Legacy Theatre in New York; 
Knock Me A Kiss” starring Andre de Shields and directed by Chuck Smith, New Federal Theatre, New York and Legacy Creative Arts Company, Chicago; Samm Art Williams’ “The Waiting Room,The Ensemble Theatre, Houston, TX; “Shakin the Mess Outta Misery,” the NC Central U, Durham, NC;  “Three Sistahs,” Black Theatre Troupe, Phoenix, AZ; “Those Sensational Soulful 60’s,” Black Ensemble Theatre, Chicago; 
Gus Edwards’ “Two Old Black Guys Just Sitting Around Talking,” Penumbra Theatre Company, St. Paul, MN; Poet Kwame DawesVOICES OF HAITI: A POST-QUAKE ODYSSEY IN VERSE (photography by Andre Lamberston and music by Kevin Simmonds), Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Washington, DC ;  “Soul on Fire: The Musical,”  Onyx Vizion Productions, Oklahoma City, OK; “Mother to Mother” starring Thembi Mtshali-Jones from FreeVoice Productions, Cape Town, South Africa.  Other celebrity performers/attendees include Dorien Wilson, BernNadette Stanis, Richard Lawson, Vanessa Williams, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Dawnn Lewis, Nathan Purdee, Barbara Montgomery, Count Stovall, Phylicia Rashad and Glynn Turman, whose incredible show "Moving Man" opened the 2009 NBTFTickets are on sale now at  

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