St. Louis social group keeps NBTF tradition alive

St. Louis social group keeps NBTF tradition alive
August 13
00:00 2015

In above photo: (L-R) Roselyn Scott and Ann Rice speak during a press conference on Thursday, Aug. 6 in the main lobby of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Winston-Salem. (Photo by Tevin Stinson)

Bus load comes in honor of late friend

By Tevin Stinson The Chronicle

The National Black Theatre Festival has been known to bring people from all over the world to Winston-Salem for a week of entertainment and fun, but for Ann Rice, Roselyn Scott and the “St. Louis Friends” social club from St. Louis, Missouri, the festival means much more.

Rice and Scott first heard about the festival from their friend Sheryl Ann Williams, who was a early supporter of the festival.

Last year, Williams passed away, but Rice and Scott were determined to carry on the tradition.

In 1989, the three women piled into one vehicle and made their first of many trips to Winston-Salem for the bi-annual festival. Every year since, more and more members of the St. Louis Friends have attended the festival, all because of Williams.

This year, a bus load made the trip to “Black Theatre Holy Ground.”

“Every year we get more and more people to come with us,” said Rice. “This year is the first we’ve brought a bus load. Next festival, we hope to have two buses.”

Although they do miss their friend, Rice and Scott say they have made a lot of new friends over the years and they owe all that to Williams.

“If it wasn’t for her [Williams], we would have never heard about the festival,” said Scott. “We look forward to the festival every two years, even more now since our friend is no longer with us.”

Williams, who was a true lover of the theater, encouraged Scott to submit a play she wrote to the NBTF.

The play was accepted by the festival and was performed during this year’s Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop Readers Theatre Series at the Festival and has been performed a number of times in St. Louis.

“She was a real inspiration to me. If it wasn’t for her words of encouragement, I don’t think I would have submitted my play.” Scott said.

During a press conference on Thursday, Aug. 6, Rice and Scott told members of the media that this year the social group brought about 50 members, many of whom who have a passion for theatre, and are looking to writing their own productions as well.

“We encourage those who are interested in getting into theatre to attend,” said Rice. “Many of the people we brought with us have never attended the festival before, but all say they want to come back to the next one.”

According to Scott and other members of the St. Louis Friends, it was very important that they continue to carry on the tradition.

Although Williams isn’t physically with them, they believe that she is watching over them while they are at the festival and traveling all those miles.

“I know Sheryl Ann is watching down on us smiling,” said Scott. “We will continue to carry on the tradition she started because we know that is what she would have wanted. She really loved this festival, and wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

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