Emory University’s Rose Library to Honor 50th Anniversary of the Negro Ensemble Company with Screening of Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project (LLCVP) Featuring Douglas Turner Ward on October 24

Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and Project1VOICE (P1V) in association with The Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (Rose Library) at Emory University and Theater Emory are proud to announce a screening for the #LegacyLeaders video of Douglas Turner Ward in Atlanta.  The event will be held on October 24th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in White Hall 208, Emory University.  This event is FREE and open to the public.  

This is the conclusion of a three-city tour that celebrates the half-century legacy of the famed classic Negro Ensemble Company (NEC) and its three visionary co-founders Robert Hooks, Gerald Krone, and Douglas Turner Ward.

The three-city video screening tour kicked off in Los Angeles at Ebony Repertory Theatre—the resident theater company of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Centeron September 23rd; continued in New York City at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and now closes in Atlanta at Emory University on October 24th.  This event at Emory University will  include:  a 50th anniversary reunion of NEC alums who were involved with the NEC during Douglas Turner Ward’s artistic leadership; excerpts from the NEC’s award-winning and critically acclaimed canon of plays; a moderated panel discussion about the innovative legacy and initiation of NEC with the company’s three co-founders; and a special tribute to honor the many NEC talents we have lost over the years, the lives they touched and the art they made or made possible.  Award-winning Classic NEC alumni scheduled to appear include:  Thomas Jefferson Byrd (actor)  Pearl Cleage (playwright), Walter Dallas (director), Carlton Mollette (playwright), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (actor/director), Oz Scott (director), Michael Schultz (director) and Wynn Thomas (production designer).

TCG created the Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project (LLCVP) over a two-year period. With support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to work with video production company MOPED, TCG filmed a series of interviews chronicling the stories of founding leaders of theatre of color, including Douglas Turner Ward. Screening events will be held in the leaders’ communities to further celebrate their legacies and galvanize support for their enduring impact.

Notable Negro Ensemble Company alums include: Mary Alice, Debbie Allen, Angela Bassett, Rosalind Cash, Judyann Elder, Charles Fuller, Adolph Caesar, David Alan Grier, Bebe Drake, Giancarlo Esposito, Lawrence Fishburne, Louis Gossett, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Barbara Montgomery, Denise Nicholas, James Pickens, Jr., Phylicia Rashad, Esther Rolle, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Michael Schultz, Wynn Thomas, Glynn Turman, Denzel Washington,  Lynn Whitfield, and Hattie Winston

“Douglas Turner Ward played a tremendous role in developing the actors and directors that came through the Negro Ensemble Company,” says Pellom McDaniels III, curator of African American collections at the Rose Library. “We’re fortunate to have an extensive collection of his papers that includes scripts, correspondence, Negro Ensemble Company records, photographs, and printed material.”

“This event celebrates the robust future of the American theater by honoring, celebrating and acknowledging its richly diverse past,” said Erich McMillan-McCall, CEO/Founder of Project1VOICE. “The classic Negro Ensemble–under the firm artistic guidance of co-founder Douglas Turner Ward–nurtured, cultivated, and inspired generations of talented professionals from all backgrounds in all aspects of the entertainment industry and beyond. A legacy of this magnitude has no expiration date and continues to blaze trails because it was built by a visionary triumvirate who fully understood the gravitas of pride, tradition and above all excellence.”

“Our theatre field and broader culture owe an enormous debt to the artistry and activism of these extraordinary leaders,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. “We hope these videos and screening events not only honor these nine leaders, but raise awareness more broadly of the essential role played by theatres of color in our field. As more and more theatres make equity, diversity, and inclusion central to their work, we must remember the theatres that have been working with artists and communities of color for generations.”

The nine leaders featured in the videos are: Lou Bellamy, Penumbra Theatre, St Paul, MN; Tisa Chang, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, New York, NY; Frank Chin, Asian American Theater Company, San Francisco, CA; Miriam Colón, Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, New York, NY; Woodie King, Jr., New Federal Theatre, New York, NY; Muriel Miguel, Spiderwoman Theater, New York, NY; Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago, IL; Luis Valdez, El Teatro Campesino, San Juan Baptista, CA; and Douglas Turner Ward, Negro Ensemble Company, New York, NY.

The Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project is one of the key elements of TCG’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Initiative’s “Establishing a Baseline” programming, which also includes REPRESENT, a demographic survey that thinks outside the checkbox, and The Well, a hub of EDI-related resources.“Establishing a Baseline” programming received Phase I and Phase II support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s (DDCF’s) Fund for National Projects.

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Program Director for the Arts Maurine Knighton said, “Each of the nine leaders whom TCG has interviewed has made tremendous contributions to the American theatrical canon. We are confident that by capturing their firsthand accounts and addressing the under-documentation of their work, this project can greatly encourage current and future theater-makers creating pioneering work that expands the community of theater.”

Project1VOICE, Inc. is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit performing arts service organization based in New York City. Its mission is to support and promote the American theater specifically the narrative of and by people of African descent. P1V was formed after the economic downturn in 2008 to create awareness and support for the many community-building African American theaters whose doors were closing with no hope of re-opening. P1V’s core activity is the coordination of an international, same-day staged reading series that revives and re-introduces forgotten seminal works by playwrights from the African Diaspora, a critical thread in the tapestry of the American theater. This annual event is called Project1VOICE One Play One Day and takes place on the third Monday in June. The success of One Play One Day has resulted in full productions—Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress (2011), The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe (2016) and Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith (2017)—and other programs in African American and LORT theaters across the nation. Other P1V programs include P1V 2.0—an Online Book Club, P1V Conversations with Pioneers, P1V Workshops—networking and knowledge-building opportunities and P1V Honors—recognizing outstanding contributions in the arts. P1V has expanded its reach and influence by partnering with nationally and internationally recognized organizations like Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Howard University, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA), Temple University, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), and Theatre for Young Audiences/USA (TYA/USA). To date other United States organizations, include League of Resident Theatres (LORT) members, African American theater companies including Billie Holiday Theatre, Ebony Repertory Theatre, Congo Square Theatre and Ensemble Theatre—Houston as well as, other diverse educational, artistic and social institutions. P1V’s network also includes theater companies in Nigeria and South Africa. Through its robust programs and innovative partnerships, P1V works to provide significant support, accessibility and adequate representation for African American theater, an integral sector of the English-speaking theater.

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The Arts Program of DDCF focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theater artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org

 

MOPED is a full-service digital media and video production company that intersects stories that matter with technology — to catalyze conversation, mobilize audiences and drive impact both on and offline. We help you achieve heightened visibility, audience understanding and greater success, by developing your story as a vehicle, and then leveraging the platforms you’ll use to share it with the world.http://mopedproductions.tv/

 

For over 50 years, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for U.S. theatre, has existed to strengthen, nurture, and promote the professional not-for-profit theatre. TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to over 700 member theatres and affiliate organizations and more than 12,000 individuals nationwide. TCG offers its members networking and knowledge-building opportunities through conferences, events, research, and communications; awards grants, approximately $2 million per year, to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level; and through the Global Theater Initiative, TCG’s partnership with the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, serves as the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute. TCG is North America’s largest independent publisher of dramatic literature, with 15 Pulitzer Prizes for Best Play on the TCG booklist. It also publishes the award-winning American Theatre magazine and ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts. In all of its endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of its Member Theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field, and promote a larger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the theatre. www.tcg.org.

The Rose Library event represents an ongoing effort to connect the archives more deeply to the community and to engage more artists with the collections. Brent Glenn, artistic director of Theater Emory, calls the collections a goldmine in our backyard.

The African American collection has given us the tools and materials to build something, and were having conversations now about how to engage our faculty and the greater Atlanta community more deeply with these theater resources,” says Glenn.

This NEC event is partially funded at Emory by the Richard Long Fund in support of African American collections. Long, who died in 2013, joined the Emory faculty in 1987 as Atticus Haygood Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts. Known for his wide-ranging interests and scholarly pursuits, Long chaired the African American Collections Advisory Board at the Rose Library. He was known for both his erudition and generosity, according to Randall Burkett, research curator for African American Collections.

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