On Fridays from October 2 to 20, New Federal Theatre (NFT) will present “Octoberfest,” a retrospective readings series in which five rarely-done yet noteworthy plays, all previously produced by NFT, will be recreated by accomplished actors. These plays raise topics, issues and personal stories that are newly relevant in these times of pandemic and social inequality. The series is dedicated to the late Chadwick Boseman, whose acting career was launched at NFT, who served on NFT’s Board of Directors, and who was a lifelong supporter of NFT.
Some of the plays are being recreated with actors and directors of their NFT productions. The readings will be presented each Friday in October on the following schedule. They will be free and accessible from NFT’s website. Donations will be gratefully accepted.
OCTOBER 2 AT 7:00 PM:
“Do Lord Remember Me” by Jim De Jongh, directed by Regge Life (NFT production 1996-97)
This play dramatizes WPA recordings, collected in the 1930s, of remembrances by former slaves in Virginia. Black elders relate the experience of the “peculiar institution,” recalling what happened to them nearly a lifetime ago, adopting different personalities and sharing the stories/histories of other slaves. Although they endured horrors, faith sustained them and instilled their desire for survival, always holding the promise that in the future they will be free: ‘On my way to heaven, Lord remember me do Lord, do Lord, do Lord remember me.’
FEATURING: Ebony Joann, Barbara Montgomery, Roscoe Orman, Kim Sullivan, Glynn Turman
OCTOBER 9 AT 7:00 PM
“Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington” by Clare Coss, directed by Gabrielle Kurlander (NFT production 2014)
This two-character play captures a moment of crisis between Mary White Overton and Dr, W.E.B. DuBois, co-founders of the NAACP, friends and activist allies, at the time of increasing violence against the African-American community as World War I unfolds.
FEATURING: Kathleen Chalfant and Peter Jay Fernandez
OCTOBER 16 AT 7:00 PM
“From the Mississippi Delta” by Endesha Ida Mae Holland, directed by Ed Smith (NFT production 1987-88)
After being raped by a white employer at the age of 11, Endesha Ida Mae Holland became a rebel. But when she stumbled across the civil rights movement she found herself developing into a leader. This play uses three actresses to relate the story of Holland’s upbringing in segregated Greenwood, Miss. It is also a story of success against all odds.
FEATURING: Brenda Denmark, Elain Graham, Verniece Turner
OCTOBER 23 AT 7:00 PM
“Medal of Honor Rag” by Tom Cole, directed by A. Dean Irby (NFT at Theater De Lys, 1976)
A play about survivor guilt. D.J., a Black Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, and his psychiatrist–both Vietnam vets–verbally spar until the doctor draws out the horror and disgust that has traumatized the young man.
FEATURING: Royce Johnson, Micah Stock, Beethovan Oden
OCTOBER 30 AT 7:00 PM
“Stories of the Old Days” by Bill Harris, directed by La Tanya Richardson Jackson, Associate Producer Linda Herring (NFT production 1986)
A former blues singer living in a decaying church in Detroit never ventures out into the world that rejected him. While playing checkers he and Ivy, one the last members of the congregation, move from animosity to friendship. Both have secrets from the old days: he conceals his struggle of faith and despair and she withholds a searing loss as they rescue each other from emotional numbness and terminal loneliness.
FEATURING: Pauletta Washington, Michael Potts
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.
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