New York Trend Online
Serving New York City, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties

Beth Turner, Publisher of Black Masks Magazine, Honored At New Federal Theatre at 50th Anniversary Virtual Gala, January 17

Beth Turner, photo courtesy of Beth Turner

Queens native Dr. Beth Turner, playwright, professor and the publisher of Black Masks Magazine, will be honored by Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre (NFT) for her impact on covering Black theatre at the NFT 50th Anniversary Gala virtual event on January 17, 2021.  The Gala will be accessible to the public from the theatre’s website.  

Dr. Turner will join stars from stage, film and television at the milestone virtual gala. The honorees include other acclaimed alumni and supporters: Glynn Turman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Fargo”), S. Epatha Merkerson (“Law & Order,” “Chicago Med”), Phylicia Rashad (“Between the World and Me,” “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” and “Soul”), Oz Scott (director, Broadway’s “For Colored Girls…”), Ron Himes (artistic director St. Louis Black Repertory Company) Cliff Frazier (NFT Chairman and Institute of New Cinema Artists founder), and Douglas Turner Ward ( co-founder of The Negro Ensemble Company). The celebration is written by Bill Harris and directed by Dean Irby.   

“New Federal Theater is pleased to honor Dr. Beth Turner for the important support she has given to Black theater through Black Masks Magazine,” said Woodie King, founder and director of New Federal Theatre.

“For over 36 years, Black Masks has been the major publication covering the work of Black theaters across the U.S. and the Caribbean. We want to thank her for telling the stories about what’s happening with our actors, playwrights, producers and directors in Black theatres. It’s made an impact.”  

As a playwright and director, Dr. Turner has written plays like “Ode to Mariah” and “Sing On, Ms. Gri.” She holds a doctorate in theatre from the University of Georgia and had a 13-year tenure at New York University as a theatre professor. Now, she lives in Florida, where publishes Black Masks and teaches at FAMU’s Essential Theatre Program.  

photo courtesy of Beth Turner

“New Federal Theatre is one of the premier theatre institutions. When I started in New York, New Federal Theatre was one of maybe 20 Black theatres in the New York area. Today, Black theater is mostly decimated,” said Dr. Turner. “Woodie continues to produce Black theme plays written by Black playwrights and also offer classes in playwriting and acting for young aspiring Black artists. So much of what we do now has been taken over by mainstream theaters in the name of multiculturalism. Woodie is always looking at what speaks from the heart of the Black community and Black experience. He gave opportunities to so many artists who are now thriving.”  

The co-hosts NFT 50th Anniversary Gala virtual gala represent Black actors with careers spanning the 1970s to 2020. There’s Ted Lange, the actor, director and screenwriter who kicked off his TV career with 1970s hits “That’s My Mama” and his iconic Isaac in “The Love Boat; DeWanda Wise, who starred as Brooklyn artist Nola Darling in the 2019 Netflix series “She’s Gotta Have It,” and her husband, Alano Miller, who starred as Cato in the 2016 WGN award-winning thriller series on slavery “Underground.” DeWanda Wise was directed by Woodie King, Leslie Lee’s play “Sundown Names and Night-Gone Things” in 2009 and Ted Lange, who has worked with Woodie King since the 1970s, recently appeared as Elijah Muhammad in the NFT 2018 revival of “When the Chickens Come Home to Roost.”  

The Honorary Committee for the 50th anniversary gala includes Debbie Allen, Harry Belafonte, Vin Diesel, Toni Fay, Danny Glover, Samuel L. Jackson, La Tanya Richardson Jackson, Sidney Poitier, Issa Rae, Phylicia Rashad, Lamman Rucker, Glynn Turman, Mfundi Vundla and Lynn Whitfield.  

Woodie King, Jr.’s New Federal Theatre has produced over 450 plays. King’s cultural impact as a producer and director spans 50 years from the 1970s to today. He produced Glynn Turman is his first starring role on Broadway in 1974’s “What the Wine Sellers Buy.” He produced Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls…” Off Broadway and on Broadway in 1976. He directed and produced Denzel Washington in his star turn as Malcolm X in the 1981 play “When the Chickens Come Home to Roost.” It was a show that inspired a young Spike Lee to cast Washington as “Malcolm X” in his historic film. When Chadwick Boseman was a Howard student, he was mentored by King, who produced Boseman’s first starring role in an Off-Broadway New York play. Issa Rae worked at New Federal Theatre’s office as an assistant, which inspired her to create her job web series “Awkward Black Girl” which later became the HBO hit “Insecure.”

About the Author

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.