Tonya Pinkins, Dorien Wilson, Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Rain Pryor, André De Shields, Debbi Morgan, Chester Gregory, Tommy Ford and More Set for National Black Theatre Festival® in Winston-Salem, NC

The 2013 National Black Theatre Festival® (NBTF) held in the city of the arts Winston-Salem, North Carolina, from Monday July 29th- Saturday August 3rd, 2013, will be yet another starr-studded affair, with actors Tonya Pinkins and Dorien Wilson serving as celebrity co-chairs.

Tonya Pinkins. Photo by Lia Chang

Tonya Pinkins. Photo by Lia Chang


The NBTF is one of the most historic and culturally significant events in the history of black theatre and is produced by The North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NCBRC). NBTF is the only theatre festival in the country offering six consecutive days of professional theatre. Other components of the festival include workshops, a reader’s theatre of new works, a film festival, a poetry jam, a youth celebrity project, a vendor’s market, and The International Colloquium. NBTF officials have also created exciting events for teens during Festival week with TEENtastic. Events include a dance contest, a gospel music workshop and concert, formal event and much more. Officials say over 60,000 people are expected to attend the event, along with celebrities from stage, screen, and television.

Tonya Pinkins received the coveted Tony Award for her performance as “Sweet Anita” in the Broadway musical, Jelly’s Last Jam. She also received Tony nominations for her role in the Broadway musical Play On and for the title role in Caroline, Or Change. Although she is probably most admired for her stage work, soap opera fans remember her as “Livia Frye” on “All My Children” or “Heather Dalton” on “As The World Turns.” Pinkins returns to Winston-Salem after having performed in two previous NBTF productions: Pandora’s Box with Kim Fields and the celebrity staged reading of What Would Jesus Do? She will perform her one-woman show Tonya Pinkins UNPLUGGED at this year’s festival.

Lia Chang, Tommy Ford and Lorey Hayes at The James Stephens III Foundation Scholarship Gala in Florence, S.C. on May 4, 2013. Photo by B. Charles

Lia Chang, Tommy Ford and Lorey Hayes at The James Stephens III Foundation Scholarship Gala in Florence, S.C. on May 4, 2013. Photo by B. Charles


Dorien Wilson may be best known for his portrayal of Professor Olglevee on The Parkers, a role which solidified him as a mainstay in television. He received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for this role. His career includes many other television roles as well. He first became known as the smooth-talking talk show host “Eddie Charles” in HBO’s hit comedy series “Dream On.” He appeared in recurring roles in “Sister, Sister,” “The Steve Harvey Show,” and was the first African-American to have a recurring role on “Friends.” Wilson has strong roots in theatre and has appeared in more than 75 plays. A longtime supporter of the NBTF, Wilson has performed in several productions in previous Festivals. Wilson will be starring in the production of Love and Other Four Letter Words along side popular television actor Tommy Ford best known for his work from the TV show “Martin.” The N.C. Black Repertory Company will present the gospel musical Crowns.
Roscoe Orman and Pauletta Pearson Washington in Lorey Hayes' Power Play. Photo by Will Chang

Roscoe Orman and Pauletta Pearson Washington in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play. Photo by Will Chang

The NBTF is also proud to bring back, Broadway actor and festival-favorite Chester Gregory in his show The Eve of Jackie: A Tribute to Jackie Wilson.This dynamic musical will open the festival following a star-studded opening night gala. Gregory took audiences by storm with his portrayal of Wilson in The Jackie Wilson Story during two previous festivals.This year’s festival offers a wide range of theatrical performances including drama, comedies, musicals, choreoplays and multi-media productions. The shows will include celebrity performances throughout the week, featuring actors like Rain Pryor, daughter of famed comedian Richard Pryor, Debbi Morgan, Kim Coles, Roscoe Orman and Pauletta Pearson Washington, wife of Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington, in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play, and theatre icon, André De Shields, who returns to the Festival in Charles Smith’s Knock Me A Kiss after playing to soldout houses in 2011, and many more.
André De Shields as Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois in Charles Smith's Knock Me A Kiss. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields as Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois in Charles Smith’s Knock Me A Kiss. Photo by Lia Chang

S. Epatha Merkerson. Photo by Lia Chang

S. Epatha Merkerson. Photo by Lia Chang

“We are so excited about all of our main stage productions this year. Our selection committee did an excellent job. The talent we will be bringing to the 2013 NBTF will be Marvtastic and will reach audiences of all ages” said Gerry Patton, Executive Director NCBRC. Patton also added that the NCBRC is happy to honor some theatre greats during the award ceremony at the opening night gala. Those being honored include veteran actor and longtime festival supporter Hal Williams. Williams will receive the Sidney Poitier Lifelong Achievement Award. Other awardees include star of stage and screen, Starletta DuPois, and S. Epatha Merkerson, who captivated audiences for years as Lt. Van Buren on Law & Order. Visit www.nbtf.org, for a complete list of performances and awardees.

NBTF is proud to be in partnership with the following sponsors this year: City of Winston Salem, The Millennium Fund, Reynolds American, Visit Winston-Salem, Hanesbrands, Inc., Twin City Quarter, Branch Banking and Trust (BB&T), Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County, N.C. Arts Council, Truliant Federal Credit Union, Inc., Wells Fargo Bank, Winston-Salem State University, Novant Health, Duke Energy Foundation, American Express, Verizon Wireless and The Marvtastic Society.

NBTF is the international outreach program of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company, founded by the late Larry Leon Hamlin in 1979. The Festival, also founded by Hamlin, has been held biennially since 1989. The event attracts thousands of national and international patrons, theatre professionals and scholars to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It was named one of the Top 100 events in North America by the American Business Association. This is the only national black theater festival in the country offering six consecutive days of professional theater, film, poetry, workshops, seminars and shopping.

For additional information and a schedule of events, call the festival office at (336) 723-2266, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, or visit www.nbtf.org online.

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