The National Black Theatre Festival, a yearly celebration of black theatre and theatre artists, turns twelve in 2001 with a week of events July 30 Aug. 4 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The artists honored include 2001 Sidney Poitier Lifelong Achievement Award winner Cicely Tyson ("Sounder," "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman"), Charles S. Dutton ("Roc", The Piano Lesson), event co-chair and 2001 Tony Award nominee Andre DeShields (The Full Monty) and multi-award winner Lillias White (The Life).
Tyson, Dutton, DeShields, Hattie Winston and Paul Winfield host the opening night gala July 30. The evening features a performance of the new musical The Jackie Wilson Story (My Heart is Crying…Crying) starring Chester Gregory II as the R&B legend and a special awards ceremony. Tyson will receive her Poitier Award along with Larry Leon Hamlin Producer's Award winners Miguel Algarin (Nuyorican Poets Cafe) and Curtis King (The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Inc), August Wilson Playwright's Award winner John Henry Redwood (No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs, The Old Settler) and Lloyd Richard Director's Award winner George Faison (The Wiz, Porgy and Bess).
Actors Earle Hyman (The Master Builder, Hamlet, King Lear), Carl Gordon (The Piano Lesson, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Great White Hope) and Louise Stubbs (The Blacks, The Crucible, Purlie) will be given Living Legend Awards along with educator Ethel Pitts Walker, director/choreographer Louis Johnson (a Tony nominee for Purlie) and playwright/actor Steve Carter (Eden, Nevis Mountain Dew, The Inaugural Tea).
With the theatre festival's theme being "An International Celebration and Reunion of Spirit," the NBTF will host companies from Europe, the Caribbean and Africa to promote a world black theatre movement. Lectures, workshops and seminars will address the issues of creating such a movement.
Among the performances will be: The Late, Great Ladies of Blues and Jazz starring Broadway's Sandra Reaves Phillips
S.H.E. (Simply Her Experiences) with "Moesha"'s Sheryl Lee Ralph
The Dance on Widow's Row featuring Barbara Montgomery, Elizabeth Van Dyke and Ed Wheeler
Cryin' Shame with "The Cosby Show"'s Malcolm Jamal Warner
Black Woman's Blues starring Vanessa Bell Calloway and Dawn Lewis
From Brooklyn to Broadway, White's one-woman show
Professor Lombooza Lomboo with "The Cosby Show"'s Joseph C. Philips
The Lizard Project, a piece by and starring Ntozake Shange
Tickets range from $200 for the opening night gala to $30-$35 for individual performances. For a complete schedule of events, visit the National Black Theatre Festival website at http://www.NBTF.org.