NBTF announces celebrity co-chairs

NBTF announces celebrity co-chairs
March 12
00:00 2015
(Above: Photo by Charles E. Leftwich Jr-. “All My Children” co-stars Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams speak at the announcement event. on Monday)

The city received its first taste of purple and black for the year on Monday afternoon in the Garden Terrace of Embassy Suites Hotel with the announcement of the 2015 National Black Theatre Festival’s (NBTF) Celebrity Co-Chairs.

“We are very excited about this year’s festival, and we think that you’ll love the things that are to come,” said Sylvia Sprinkle- Hamlin, executive producer of NBTF.

The faces for this year’s event are multiple-grammy winning “All My Children” co-stars Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams.

“This coming season is going to be so wonderful because submissions are coming from, not just all around the United States and Canada, but from Japan, China and Africa. It is going to be so exciting,” Morgan said. “It is also especially gratifying to so many theater-goers who travel far and wide to see stupendous theatre here at the festival.”

Morgan, a Dunn, N.C. native, has appeared in “The Hurricane,” opposite Denzel Washington, and “Eve’s Bayou,” opposite of Samuel L. Jackson. She has also  appeared in the movie “Love and Basketball.”

In television, Morgan was featured in the Showtime television drama “Soul Food” and in the late ‘70s could be found on “Good Times” and “What’s Happening.”

She has also appeared on Broadway in “What the Wine Sellers Buy” and theatre stage in “Colored People Time,” “My Sister, My Sister” and “Once in a Wife Time.” Morgan will have a play on display for this year’s festival. In addition to writing her personal memoir, “A Monkey On My Back,” slated to be released on June 23, she has also written a one-woman play based on the book of the same title.

“We will be performing a full-run this season. Hopefully many of you will come out to join me on this captivating, hilarious, thought-provoking journey, which chronicles much of my tumultuous life which will hopefully inspire,” Morgan said.

Williams has appeared on Broadway in “Your Arms Too Short to Box with God” and  performances in “Selma,” and “Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell.” He was a regular dancer on “Soul Train” in the mid-1970s.

On television, the British-born actor has grabbed the heart of viewers on shows such as “Law &Order: SVU,” “NYPD Blue,” “E.R.,” “Felicity” and the Debbie Allen directed television movie, “Stompin’ at the Savoy.”He has been in the films “Shadow Boxer,” “Shortcuts,” “Simone” and “Detour,” along with co-directing the independent film “Manhattanites.”

Both stars said that they are excited about chairing the event and look forward to what the festival has to offer.

“It’s just an honor to have been asked. It came out of the blue. I had heard about the festival a few years down the line, but I had never really known that much about it. To have been asked to come down and participate … there’s no greater honor,” Williams said.

The announcement included a performance by Alyson Williams, a Harlem native and the first female R&B artist signed to Russell Simmon’s Def Jam records. She was billed as the event’s celebrity performance.

Along with performing, she is writing musical stage plays, books, and television treatments through her production company, AWP: A Woman’s Prerogative.

Alyson Williams will perform a special tribute in honor of the late Dr. Maya Angelou at the 2015 National Black Theatre Festival Opening Night Gala on Aug. 3. 2015.

The NBTF, founded by the late Larry Leon Hamlin, was founded in 1989 in an effort to unite black theater companies while enabling black theatre professionals to express cultural value and perspectives dramatically and powerfully.

The six-day event, which will be held Aug. 3-8, is held biennially and attracts more than 65,000 people looking to attend more than 100 performances. A schedule of events can be found on the agency’s website, in June.

Tickets range from $17 to $42 and can be purchased online, by mail and at the NBTF office. For more information, tickets or volunteer opportunities, contact NBTF at 336-723-2223.

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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