New name, new logo, one marvtastic event

New name, new logo, one marvtastic event
June 06
20:17 2024

The International Black Theatre Festival is coming to town

Every two years since 1989 downtown Winston-Salem is transformed into Black Theatre Holy Ground when the N.C. Black Repertory Company hosts the biggest event in Black theatre. And this year with a new name, the International Black Theatre Festival is back July 29 – August 3. 

The National Black Theatre Festival was started by the late Larry Leon Hamlin, who is also the founder of the N.C. Black Repertory Company. The festival was started as an international outreach program, and the new name reflects Hamlin’s vision of bringing Black actors, writers, directors, and others with invested interest in Black theatre from across the world, together. 

This year’s festival will include more than 120 theatrical productions with a variety of new works, premieres and Black classics. If the on-stage productions aren’t for you, other popular events like the opening night Gala, International Vendors Market, Film Fest, Midnight Poetry, International Colloquium, the National Youth Talent Showcase, TeenTastic and several others will be returning this year, along with a few new attractions. 

Celebrity co-chairs for the festival, Tamara Tunie, and Clifton Powell, were announced last month. Tunie is an award-winning actor, singer, director, and producer whose distinguished work encompasses stage, television, and film. 

She portrayed the mother of the great American icon Whitney Houston, in “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” and Kamala Harris in “The 47TH” at the Old Vic Theatre in London. Tunie first gained an international following in the role of medical examiner Dr. Melinda Warner, with 23 seasons on Dick Wolf’s legendary NBC series “Law and Order: SVU.” Prior to that, she starred in the CBS daytime soap opera “As the World Turns.”

Davis is an award-winning actor, singer, composer, songwriter, author, producer, and minister. Tony and Grammy nominated, he has shared his unique gifts for more than 40 years around the world on stage, film, television and through music. He recently completed a four-year run in Broadway’s “Aladdin,” having originated the role of “Sultan.” More recently, he completed a year’s run as Dr. Dillamond in another Broadway hit, “Wicked.” Before he was a successful actor, he wrote The Jackson 5’s No. 2 hit “Never Can Say Goodbye.” And he is known for his roles in “That’s My Mama,” and best known as the Rev. Dr. Reuben Gregory in the hit sitcom “Amen.”

Dr. Eric Saddler, chair of the NCBRC, said the organization is more energized than ever. And Jackie Alexander, artistic director of the NCBRC and producer of the International Black Theatre Festival, has said that this year’s lineup of productions is the best he’s seen since joining the NCBRC in 2016. 

Alexander said when they started planning for the 2024 festival, the first International Black Theatre Festival, they wanted to put a lot of emphasis on community. “This festival is really focused on community,” said Alexander during the press conference held on Monday at the Benton Convention Center. He went on to discuss NCBRC’s partnership with Wake Forest University on a new initiative during the festival called “Finding Holy Ground.” According to Alexander, events associated with the new initiative will be free to the public. 

“We want to make sure all of Winston-Salem celebrates with us as we usher in the International Black Theatre Festival,” Alexander said. 

When discussing the festival, Mayor Pro Temp-ore Denise ‘DD’ Adams, who is also a longtime festival-goer and volunteer, said it’s important that the community show their support and appreciation for the festival this year. Statistics show the Festival brings in more than 60,000 people to the area, which generates more than $13 million toward the local economy. 

“The North Carolina Black Repertory Company has held their standard to the best … it’s up to us now to show them how much we love them and we want to keep them in Winston-Salem,” Adams said. “Everybody wants this, this was one of the first. So if we don’t show up, if we don’t show out and we don’t support this endeavor, we could lose the small town event to somewhere out west.”

For highlights of several productions on stage during the 2024 International Black Theatre Festival, be sure to read the article by Judie Holcomb-Park in the Arts & Entertainment section on page 5.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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