Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Phylicia Rashad in Benefit February 13

On February 13, New York's historic Town Hall will be the setting for an extraordinary star-studded salute to the endurance and influence of Woodie King, Jr.'s New Federal Theatre (NFT), for 35 years a seminal force in the Black Arts Movement (BAM). Co-hosted by Ossie Davis, Lynn Whitfield and Avery Brooks," "Catch The Spirit of Black Theater" will celebrate the NFT's vital contribution to the arts internationally. The gala will feature a special "roast and toast" to Negro Ensemble Company co-founder award winning actor/director/writer, Douglas Turner Ward, an awards presentation honoring significant contributors to the development of the theatre and performances by an illustrious roster of African-American stars of film, television and theater.

Special guest artists appearing include: Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter, Obba Babatunde, Amiri Baraka, Mayme Hansberry, Robert Hooks, Reginald Vel Johnson, LaTanya Richardson-Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Phylicia Rashad, Ruben-Santiago Hudson, Kiki Shepard, Sweet Honey In The Rock, Glynn Turman, Leslie Uggams, Denzel Washington and Hattie Winston.

Honorary Chairs are Harry Belafonte, Ossie Davis, C. Virginia Fields and Cicely Tyson. Co-chairs are Robert Hooks, Samuel L. Jackson, Byron Lewis, Phylicia Rashad and Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

The event will honor lyricist/composer/writer/performer Micki Grant, creator of the groundbreaking original musical revue, Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope; prolific playwright, Ed Bullins; and producer, director, lyricist George C. Wolfe. Two special awards for contributions to Black theater will also be presented: one, to the critically acclaimed ensemble cast of the recent revival A Raisin in the Sun, including Sean Combs and Phylicia Rashad, and the second, to the Theater Development Fund, whose support of minority artists and companies has been critical to their survival.

The gala celebration will kick-off at 3:00pm at Town Hall followed by a dinner with the honorees, performers and national committee members. Tickets for the 35th Anniversary Gala Benefit are $75, $175, and $300 (includes dinner); tables are $3,000, $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 and $25,000 and can be purchased by calling Lorelei Enterprises at 212-838-2660 or Ticketmaster at 212-307- 4100

About the New Federal Theatre…

Launched in the basement of the Lower East Side's St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, New Federal Theatre has gone on to international acclaim for its bold mission to integrate minorities and women into the main stream of American theater by training artists for the profession and by presenting plays by minorities and women to integrated, multi-cultural audiences -- plays which evoke the truth through beautiful artistic recreations of ourselves.

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