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Star-Studded 50th Anniversary Virtual Gala For Woodie King, Jr.’s New Federal Theatre

Woody King, Jr.’s New Federal Theatre presented the world premiere of “Looking for Leroy” by Larry Muhammad at Castillo Theatre, 543 West 42nd Street, Feb 28 to March 31, 2019. The two-character play explores the legacy of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka–one of the most important dramatists the 20th century who defined the role of the Black playwright for our age. It imagines five encounters between Baraka, a literary lion now in his 60s, and an intern in his 20s who idolizes him, challenges him and aims to be like him. Tyler Fauntleroy as the intern, Kim Sullivan as Baraka. Petronia Paley directed. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

New Federal Theatre, which has produced more works by minority playwrights and women than any other organization in the history of New York theater, will hold a 50th Anniversary Gala Celebration as a virtual event January 17, 2021 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. 

The Gala will be accessible from the theater’s website, and will honor Cliff Frazier, Ron Himes, S. Epatha Merkerson, Ed Pitt, Phylicia Rashad, Oz Scott, Beth Turner, Glynn Turman and Douglas Turner Ward.  The celebration is written by Bill Harris, directed by Dean Irby and co-hosted by Ted Lange.   Honorary Committee for the event includes Richard Abrons, Debbie Allen, Harry Belafonte, Vin Diesel, Toni Fay, Danny Glover, Samuel L. Jackson and La Tanya Richardson Jackson, Sidney Poitier, Phylicia Rashad, Lamman Rucker, Glynn Turman, Mfundi Vundla, and Lynn Whitfield.  

New Federal Theatre (NFT) was founded by Woodie King, Jr. in 1970 to give voice to African-American playwrights, actors, directors, designers, and young people entering the American theater. Its mission was “to integrate artists of color and women into the mainstream of American theater by training artists for the profession and by presenting plays by writers of color and women to integrated, multicultural audiences.

To-date, the organization has produced more than 300 mainstage plays, an astonishing and influential record of achievement, sending multiple plays to Broadway and launching numerous minority and women playwrights and actors into prominent careers.  

Since 1975, the company has also conducted educational workshops in playwriting and drama workshops for adults and teens. The theater and its workshop have helped bring to national attention such playwrights as Ed Bullins, Amiri Baraka, J.e Franklin, Ntozake Shange, David Henry Hwang, Ron Milner, Joseph Lazardi, Damien Leake, Genny Lim, Laurence Holder, Alexis DeVeaux, and others.

Actor veterans include Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Debbie Allen, Samuel L. Jackson, Laurence Fishburne, Chadwick Boseman, Robert Downey, Jr., Ruby Dee, Leslie Uggams, Jackée Harry, Debbie Morgan, Lynn Whitfield, Reginald Vel-Johnson, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Ella Joyce, Starletta DuPois, Issa Rae, S. Epetha Merkson, Oz Scott, Trazana Beverley,  Morgan Freeman, Anna Maria Horsford and many more.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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