New Federal Theatre to Present Elaine JacksonÂ's Puberty Rites


Woodie King Jr's New Federal Theatre will present Puberty Rites by Elaine Jackson at their new temporary home at Castillo Theatre (543 West 42nd Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues.). Performances begin October 27th with Opening Night set for Sunday, November 6th. Performances continue through November 20th only.

A. Dean Irby directs a cast that features Yasha Jackson and Arielle Uppaluri. Puberty Rites will have set design by Anthony Davidson, costume design by Ali Turns, lighting design by Shirley Prendergast, and sound design by Bill Toles.

Puberty Rites is a poignant "coming of age" drama. An elemental heritage bonds two girls to an American heritage at the beginning of the 21st Century, Keesha, from her struggling Black world and Vesna, from her White world of physical privilege. Both face emotional poverty as they confront each other and their inherited past and future. Their personal secrets threaten to destroy them and their dreams.

Playwright Elaine Jackson received the Rockefeller Award for Playwriting for her play, Cockfight, starring Morgan Freeman, which premiered Off-Broadway at the American Place Theatre. She was also the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Playwright Fellowship. Her other plays include Toe Jam (New Federal Theatre), Birth Rites (American Folk Theatre), Afterbirth (Woman's Project), and Paper Dolls (Lake Forest College, Wayne State University), among others.

Director A. Dean Irby has acted and directed on Broadway and Off Broadway, for the New York Shakespeare Festival, Negro Ensemble Company, New Federal Theatre, and Crossroads Theatre; and for many regional and university theatres. He is the recipient of two Audelco Awards for directing. Irby is also the former acting coach for "The Cosby Show" and has appeared in more than 30 television commercials. He is currently Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at Purchase College SUNY.

Woodie King Jr. is the Founder and Producing Director of New Federal Theatre. Woodie King Jr.'s New Federal Theatre has presented over 200 productions in its 40-year history. Mr. King has produced and directed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in regional theatres, and in universities across the United States. He co-produced For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf (first produced by NFT and Joseph Papp's Public Theatre), What the Wine Sellers Buy, Reggae and The Taking of Miss Janie (Drama Critics Circle Award). His directional credits are extensive and include work in film as well as theater. Mr. King will be inducted into The Theater Hall of Fame for outstanding contribution to the American Theater in January 2012.

Performances of Puberty Rites will be Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 PM, Saturday at 2 PM and 7:30 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM. Tickets will be $25 and can be ordered through or by phone at 212/941-1234. For more information, please visit or call NFT at 212-353-1176.

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