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New Federal Theatre Celebrates Women's History Month With Readings

The readings will be free and accessible from NFT's website.

New Federal Theatre Celebrates Women's History Month With Readings

On March 13 and 20, 2021 New York's New Federal Theatre (NFT) will present "New Federal Theatre Celebrates Women's History Month," a retrospective readings series in which significant plays from the '80s on generational issues in Black women's lives will be recreated by noted actors and directors. The readings will be free and accessible from NFT's website, Donations will be gratefully accepted.

Saturday, March 13 at 7:00 PM, streaming until March 15

"Hospice" by Pearl Cleage (Premiered: New Federal Theatre, 1983)

Directed by Awoye Timpo, featuring award-winning actresses Margaret Odette and Patronia Paley.

When Jenny Anderson left her lover and moved into her grandmother's unoccupied house to await the birth of her first child, the last person she expected to show up was her gravely ill mother, ex-patriot poet, Alice Anderson, who she has not seen for twenty years. Leaving her activist husband and ten year old daughter, Alice moved to Paris in 1965 to pursue her dreams of writing, free from American racism and the demands of being the devoted wife of a Civil Rights leader. She returns home hoping to die as she has lived, by her own rules. But Jenny is determined to find answers to questions she has waited a lifetime to ask and Alice is forced to come to terms with the effect of her flight on the daughter she left behind. The play was first produced by Woodie King, Jr., at the New Federal Theatre in 1983. The premiere production was honored with five AUDELCO Awards for achievement off-Broadway, including Best Play, Best Playwright, Best Director and Best Actress.

Saturday, March 20 at 7:00 PM, streaming until March 21

"Ma Rose" by Cassandra Medley (Premiered: Ensemble Studio Theatre, 1986)

Directed by Eileen Morris, Artistic Director of The Ensemble Theatre in Houston, TX

Featuring Denise Burse Fernandez, Elain Graham, Nambi E. Kelley, Lizan Mitchell, Kim Sullivan.

The title character in Cassandra Medley's ''Ma Rose'' is an aged matriarch who finds her mind and her life are slowly slipping away. She considers her wandering mind and her contact with ancestors an opportunity to gain wisdom and make amends. Stubbornly she wants to hold on to her independence, but she is surrounded by relatives determined to give her a final push. The play is the story of Ma Rose's battle, and it is also about the conflicts among three generations of women who seem destined to repeat one another's mistakes.

Playwright Cassandra Medley is an ongoing teacher in New Federal Theatre's playwriting workshops. This play was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Drama (1988). Reviewing the play's first incarnation as a one-act at Ensemble Studio Theatre in 1986, the New York Times (D.J.R. Bruckner) wrote, "Miss Medley reveals the complex ties among the women so naturally and subtly that the great range of history she surveys - of American families, blacks since the Civil War and women in the last 100 years - becomes a simple story." The San Francisco Examiner wrote, "Ma Rose is a larger than life figure who at times approaches the stature of a black Queen Lear."

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