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2015 National Black Theatre Festival

The Ensemble Theatre has been invited back to perform at the 2015 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, NC

The Ensemble Theatre accepts an invitation to participate in the National Black Theatre Festival held in Winston Salem, NC August 3 – August 8, 2015.

The National Black Theatre Festival is the largest platform for bringing black theatre companies together across the country to participate in presenting plays, readings, workshops, and seminars to ensure the survival of the genre. Held biennially, the festival attracts more than 65,000 people during the six-day event.

“It is imperative that black theatre companies continue to grow professionally, explore new perspectives, and find innovative ways to tell our stories,” says Eileen J. Morris, Ensemble Artistic Director. “We are excited about this being our fifth opportunity to exhibit, network, and exchange ideas with our regional and national cohorts.”

The Ensemble Theatre will participate in the festival with a performance from its 2013-2014 Season: The Old Settler by John Henry Redwood and directed by Ensemble Artistic Director Eileen J. Morris. The play will be performed by The Ensemble’s original cast Roc Living, Detria Ward, Samantha West, and Bebe Wilson.

The Ensemble Theatre Performances will be:

Friday, August 7, 2015. 3:00PM and 8:00PM
Saturday, August 8, 2015, 3:00PM and 8:00PM

University of North Carolina School of Arts
Catawba Theatre
1533 S. Main St.
Winston-Salem, NC 27127

Additional information may be obtained by contacting the host organization:
North Carolina Black Repertory
610 Coliseum Drive Winston-Salem, NC 27106
(336) 723-2266 or   

The Old Settler was first staged in 1996 and selected by the Russian Theatre Union to be performed in Sheleykovo, Russia and in Moscow, with both an American and Russian cast where Redwood’s playwriting was complimented as being very “Chekovian.” Houston born actresses and real life sisters Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen produced, directed, and appeared in the April 2001 television premiere of the play on PBS Hollywood Presents.

This story celebrates African American women and addresses the question of age, strength, and forgiveness during the Harlem Renaissance: the love between an older woman and younger man, a young woman reinventing her life, and sisters reconciling their estranged past.

Belated, Larry Leon Hamlin founded the National Black Theatre Festival in 1989 to unite Black theatre companies in America and ensure their survival into the next millennium. With the support of Dr. Maya Angelou (who served as the Festival's first Chairperson) the National Black Theatre Festival was born. The '89 Festival offered 30 performances by 17 of America's best professional black theatre companies. It attracted national and international media coverage. According to The New York Times, "The 1989 National Black Theatre Festival was one of the most historic and culturally significant events in the history of black theatre and American theatre in general." Over 10,000 people attended. It lived up to its theme: "An International Celebration and Reunion of Spirit."

“Leon Larry Hamlin was a pioneer who had a dream, much like The Ensemble Theatre’s founder, George Hawkins…he pursued every avenue possible to make that dream come true with his vision to create a festival that celebrates the art of African Americans in which celebrities, theatre founders, technicians, actors, directors playwrights, filmmakers, and educators come together through performing, networking, and engaging in a dynamic way,” says Morris. “Larry Leon Hamlin left a legacy of engaging the arts that would forever change and impact the nation’s perspective of our culture.”