The Good, The Bad and The Amazing

The Good, The Bad and The Amazing
August 13
00:00 2015

In above photo: Actress Margaret Avery and actor Richard Brooks stroll down the runway at the NBTF Gala on Monday night, Aug. 3. (Photo by Donna Rogers)

The National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF) ended last Saturday (Aug. 8) and won’t be back until 2017.

During the weeklong event, The Chronicle staff and people in the community made random observations about the event, which was founded in 1989 in Winston-Salem. Here are some of The Good, The Bad and The Amazing:

The Good

*The play “Sassy Mamas” sold out before the festival started. It was the first time in the festival’s history that a play had sold out before the festival started.

*Several places were available to help people get tickets quickly to the plays that were not sold out.

*Winston Salem State University and Mayor Allen Joines put on a great reception on Sunday evening before the NBTF started. The stars were accessible and eager to take photos with those who attended.

*Actress Jackée Harry, a native of Winston-Salem, attended the NBTF for the first time. She was in the production “Black Stars of the Great White Way.”

*The Gala proceeded pretty much on schedule, unlike some years past, when talking by the celebrities ran much longer than scheduled. Music was played to let them know they needed to end their comments.

*During the week, actors and actresses spoke their minds about issues they cared about, including supporting black theatre.

*The North Carolina Black Repertory Company, which produces the festival each year, announced movement toward a National Black Theatre Hall of Fame and Museum. An initial campaign in 2016 will provide seed money for detailed planning and design for the hall. Celebrities will be inducted every year the Festival is held. This should attract more people to Winston-Salem during the week and increase the Festival’s economic impact.

The Bad

*The food service during the Gala on Monday night was terrible. The wait staff served people late, and the amount of food provided was not worthy of the $262 price paid for the evening.

*Tate’s Craft Cocktails downtown on Fourth Street closed during the NBTF.

The Amazing

*During the first performance of ‘The Glory of Gospel’ on Thursday night, a scene from the musical portrayed the Civil Rights Movement. During the scene, the entire cast began to sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is the Negro National Anthem. As the ensemble began to sing, one person in the audience stood up. Then slowly as the song progressed, it appeared everyone in the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Stevens Center stood up. Then, during the singing, some members of the cast began to quote the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As they did, members of the audience were quoting along.

*A play that had just been performed at the Carl H. Russell Sr. Community Center on July 30 and 31 to a standing-room-only crowd was one of the plays read during the NBTF. The playwright, Ronnie Stockwell, was accessible. He is a teacher’s assistant in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools system. The reading of “Meet Me at Mama’s House” was part of the Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop Readers Series for the NBTF.

The NBTF won’t be back for two years.

In the meantime, the North Carolina Black Repertory Company will still be here and will still need our support.

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WS Chronicle

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