After postponing last year's event due to COVID, the 17th biennial National Black Theatre Festival is back in full force beginning Monday. There will be more than 20 productions over six days on stages across the city of Winston-Salem.
As it has for the past three decades, this year's National Black Theatre Festival will provide a wide variety of contrasting productions — comedies, musicals, historical dramas — every day and night. Each one showcases some of the finest actors and theatre companies from around the country — Harlem Shakespeare Festival, Ebony Repertory Theatre in Los Angeles, Ensemble Theatre of Houston, and more. Executive Producer Jackie Alexander says this year's focus is North Carolina, featuring five regional companies, and the festival's first world premiere, Succession by Charles White.
"And it deals with the Black theatre," says Alexander. "So, what better place to have a world premiere for a show about Black theatre than at the National Black Theatre Festival? And it's very entertaining, funny — kind of gives you a behind-the-scenes look at Black theatre, how it's looked at by the broader theatre community. So, I'm really excited just to get that one up. And he's going to get a bigger world premiere than he ever imagined."
Other special events this year include Mabel P. Robinson's Emerging Artists Awards, Out on Holy Ground, a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, and the book release of Holy Ground: The National Black Theatre Festival Anthology covering the festival's first 30 years.