Feature: The National Black Theatre Festival Is Back

The festival runs from August 1-6.

By: Aug. 02, 2022
Feature: The National Black Theatre Festival Is Back
Feature: The National Black Theatre Festival Is Back
Legendary Actor, Ben Vereen, Received
The Sidney Poitier Lifetime Achievement Award

"Put On Your Purple And Black...The National Black Theatre Festival Is Back".

Yes! Yes! Yes! The premiere "crème de la crop" theatre festival for people of all colors is back after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. People from all over the world gather onto what is referred to as "holy ground" in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to celebrate excellence in Black/African American Theatre.

Founded by the late great, Larry Leon Hamlin, The National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF) is proud to celebrate its 33rd anniversary. Sadly, his wife, Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin, who steered the reigns and carried the legacy after Mr. Hamlin's passing, transitioned on January 3rd of this year. Her presence is greatly missed. This is the first festival without Sylvia. Fortunately, Jackie Alexander, the producing artistic director of the NC Black Repertory Company, has stepped up to the plate to carry the legacy because as they say in show biz, "The Show Must Go On!"

The festival kicked off with its infamous noonday press conference facilitated by Brian McLaughlin, National Media Relations Director. What an honor for me to be in the presence of greatness. This year, the festival's co-hosts are the lovely actress, Lisa Arrindell and the person infamously known as Judge Judy's bailiff, Petri Hawkins Byrd. Attendees at the press conference included: Dawnn Lewis (A Different World), Woody King, Jr. (Founder of the New Federal Theatre in New York), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Known for his television role as "Trevor" on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and actor extraordinaire, Ben Vereen, who received the Sidney Poitier Lifetime Achievement Award at the gala later on that night. Speaking of gala, what a wonderful star-studded event.

As customary, it was opened by African drums and dancers. And then...one of my favorite moments...the parade of stars. Celebrities and honorees arrayed in formal attire strolled to the platform to recognize those who have made their marks in Black/African American theater. I am so hyped and filled with excitement! The gala truly sets the tone for the rest of the week which will consist of Broadway-style theatrical productions, workshops, readings, midnight poetry...and so much more.

The festival runs from August 1-6. If you have never experienced this great phenom, you are definitely missing a treat. Attendees have come from as far as South Africa to experience Black theater at its finest. What are you waiting for? There are activities and events for all ages. And in the word of the founder, Larry Leon Hamlin, I am sure you will have a "marvtastic" time.