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It all started with a dream - one that Larry Leon Hamlin, through dogged determination, pushed into a
The National Black Theatre Festival has been held up by the New York Times as "one of the most historic
and culturally significant events" in the history of American theater. The road to such acclaim was paved by
Hamlin, a visionary ahead of his time whose contributions are vast and wide-reaching.
The first six-day biennial festival was held in the summer of 1989. Dr. Maya Angelou served as the celebrity
chairwoman. Hamlin went to Angelou, who had moved to Winston-Salem more than a decade earlier to
teach at Wake Forest University, with his idea of organizing a showcase for Black theater that would bring
together theater companies and productions from the across the nation and globe. Hamlin's enthusiasm .
and vision won Angelou over. She helped him raise about half-a-million dollars to stage the event and
recruited some of her high-profile friends, Oprah Winfrey among them, to make appearances during
The first NBTF exceeded expectations: more than 10,000 people attended; the nearly 20 theater companies
invited to present played to sold-out crowds; and loads of positive press was garnered. The success did not
surprise Hamlin. Black theater was in his blood; he knew its power to entertain, enrich and enlighten all
lives - black, white, brown, etc.
Continued on page 4
The late Larry Leon Hamlin started
the NBTF in 1989.
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SHOPS & RESTAURANTS Ji
Aeracura Salon ? Adornment ? All Through the House ? Belle Maison
BohoBlu ? European Touch Day Spa ? Gazebo ? Gazebo Sale Room
J.McLaughlin ? K-9 Doggie Bakery & Boutique ? Linda Weaver's Studio
M. Christopher's Clothier ? May Way Dumplings ? Metabolic Effect
McCall's ? Monkee's of the Village ? Painters' Palette ? Pane e Vino
Present Company ? Pure Barre ? START Gallery* Silo Bistro & Bar
Toad Hall ? Uncorked Masterpiece ? Village Fabric Shop
Village Hair Design ? Village Smith Galleries ? Village Tavern
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2201 Reynolda Road
Winston-Salem, NC 27106