The New Federal Theatre will be presenting readings of 30 plays over the course of the next two months in tribute to the victims of the Sep. 11 tragedy. A gigantic roster of established and up-and-coming playwrights, actors and directors, including Amiri Baraka, Arthur French, Ed Bullins, Lloyd Richards and S. Epatha Merkerson, are scheduled to take part in the series.
Writers for the tribute include Amiri Baraka (The Toilet), Ossie Davis, Ed Bullins, Richard Abrons, Sam-Art Williams (Home), Ron Milner, P.J. Gibson, Bill Harris, Steve Carter, Don Evans, Joyce Sylvester, William Branch, Kermit Frazier, Malik [sic], Thomas Pinnock, Mars Hill, Leslie Lee, Elaine Jackson, Phillip Hayes Dean, Lee Gundersheimer, Barbara and Carlton Molette, Martie Evans Charles, Ben Caldwell, Nancy N. Ewing, Walter Mosley, Richard Wesley and others.
Directors will include Lloyd Richards, Douglas Turner Ward, Jay Broad, Shauneille Perry, Shirley Parkinson, Passion, Wayne Grice, Count Stoval, Dean Irby, Harold Scott, Lloyd Richards, Lee Gundersheimer, Chuck Smith, Randy Frazier, Ka'ramuu Kush, Bill Lathan, Patricia White, Arthur French, Amiri Baraka, Elizabeth Van Dyke, Woodie King Jr. and others.
Performances will be given by actors Peggy Alston, Neville Aurelius, Sam Blue, Lisa Bostnar, Graham Brown, Denise Burse, Rony Clanton, Ossie Davis, Rudy Dee, Peter J. Fernandez, Clebert Ford, Arthur French, Perri Gaffney, Jolie Garrett, Carol Greski, Wayne Grice, Lee Gundersheimer, Ellen Holly, Bill Jay, Marjorie Johnson, Terria Josephs, Dianne Kirsky, Ka'ramuu Kush, Joyce Lee, Gil Lewis, S. Epatha Merkerson (TV's "Law & Order"), Vincent Miller, Lizan Mitchell, Lex Monson, Barbara Montgomery, Andre Mtume, David Ojalvo, Roscoe Orman, Jerome Preston Bates, Rudy Shaw, Pawnee Sills, Len Stranger, Count Stoval, Kim Sullivan, Tanya Tatum, Bernice Toland, Elizabeth Van Dyke, Betty Vaughn and others.
Writer/actor/director Lee Gundersheimer told Playbill On-Line (Oct. 19) that the readings were created to "bring audiences back down to that [downtown] area." He also praised the theatre's artistic director Woodie King Jr. for so rapidly putting together such an event. "He's one of the gems of the American theatre," Gundersheimer said. The New Federal theatre was founded in 1970 and is dedicated itself to developing and presenting minority drama, sponsoring a variety of ethnic groups and events. This series of readings will run weekly, Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 26 Dec. 9 at the Henry Street Settlement Abrons Art Center and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. There is no admission to the readings, but contributions are suggested to be given directly to several fund-raising organizations for the victims' families. For information and schedules, please call (212) 353-1176.
— Steve Luber