On February 13, New York's historic Town Hall was the setting for a salute to the endurance and influence of Woodie King, Jr.'s New Federal Theatre (NFT), for 35 years a seminal force in the Black Arts Movement (BAM). Co-hosted by Ossie Davis, Lynn Whitfield and Avery Brooks," "Catch The Spirit of Black Theater" celebrated the NFT's vital contribution to the arts internationally.
Launched in the basement of the Lower East Side's St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, New Federal Theatre has gone on to international acclaim for its bold mission to integrate minorities and women into the main stream of American theater by training artists for the profession and by presenting plays by minorities and women to integrated, multi-cultural audiences -- plays which evoke the truth through beautiful artistic recreations of ourselves.
The alumni list of NFT productions reads like a Who's Who of American theater, film and television: Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad, Jackee Harry, Laurence Fishburne, Dick Anthony Williams, Glynn Turman, Taurean Blacque, Debbie Morgan, Robert Downey Jr., Garrett Morris, Lynn Whitfield, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Ruby Dee, Ella Joyce, Leslie Uggams, Samuel L. Jackson and scores more.
Under Woodie King Jr.'s stewardship NFT and the National Black Touring Circuit have presented over 180 productions in the last three and a half decades including: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, What the Winesellers Buy, Reggae, The Taking of Miss Janie and Dance and the Railroad. His directorial credits are extensive and include work in film as well as in theater. He has directed at the most prominent theaters across the country and has been the recipient of numerous awards from Audelco, the NAACP, Drama Critics Circle and an Obie Award for Sustained Achievement.
Photos by: Carmen de Jesus & John Wegorzewski
BWW Hi-Res Gallery - Original Version