This is the 22nd year of the NBTF, which is produced annually by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NCBRC). The festival was founded by Larry Leon Hamlin in 1989.
The festival was started in order "to unite black theatre companies in America to ensure the survival of the genre into the next millennium." Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams act as this year's co-hosts.
Among the week's showcase productions: Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South; At Last: A Tribute to Etta James; Sassy Mamas; The Layon Gray American Theatre Company's Kings of Harlem; Billie Holliday Theatre's Maid's Door; Lange Productions' The Journals of Osborne P. Anderson and many more.
Film presentations include "August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand," "Divided Time" and "That Daughter's Crazy," among others.
Participating artists include Bill Cobbs, Nate Jacobs, Erich McMillan-McCall, Clinton Turner Davis, Katori Hall, ESOSA, Allen Lee Hughes, Harlan Penn, A. Peter Bailey, Grace Jones, Maurice Hines, Hatti Winston, Robert Hooks, Rachel P, Jackson, warren Dell Leggett, Naturi Naughton, Clifton Powell, Jackee Harry, Vivian Reed, Obba Babatunde, Tamara Tunie, Larry Marshall, Margaret Avery, Richard Brooks, Nnena Freelon, Norm Lewis, Thembi Mtshali-Jones, Qaasim Middleton and Corey Mitchell, winner of the Tony Awards' inaugural Excellence in Theatre Education Award.
At the NBTF Gala Awards Show on Aug. 3, the Sidney Poitier Lifelong Achievement Award was presented to Bill Cobbs, and the Larry Leon Hamlin Award, named for the festival's founder, was presented to Nate Jacobs.