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North Main Hall
Tues, Aug. 4 8 p.m.
Wed, Aug. 5 3 p.m.
Wed, Aug. 5 8 p.m.
I The talented
I young cast
The N.C. Black Repertory Company is giving some of Winston-Salem's most talented
young performers a chance to shine before audiences from around the world. The Teen
Theatre Ensemble, a division of the Black Rep created to nurture tomorrow's on-stage
and behind-the-scenes talent, will present Samm-Art Williams' "Excelsior" at this year's NBTF,
just months after the historical drama was received warmly by local audiences for its debut.
The play tells the story of Charlotte Forten, a black woman born into a wealthy Philadelphia
family who packs up and heads South after the Civil War to teach newly emancipated blacks on
the South Carolina Sea Islands. She makes this decision to the chagrin of her family and against
the advice of doctors, who warn her that the humid Southern climate may kick her tuberculosis
Forten had long fought for an end of slavery. Her anti-slavery work put her in contact with
many of the stars of the abolitionist movement, including William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell
Phillips. Her diaries offer one of the few windows into the life of a free (and wealthy) Northern
black woman in the 1860s.
Williams relied on those diaries and other resources to pen the play. The North Carolina native
received both Tony and Drama Desk nods for his play "Home," and his television screenwriting
credits, which include "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and "Cagney and Laceyr have earned him
two Emmy nominations. Williams has frequently collaborated with the Black Rep and is one of
the many legends who is a regular at the biennial NBTF.
Black Rep Artistic Director Mabel Robinson directs "Excelsior," whose cast includes Teen
Theatre Ensemble veterans like Thatcher Johnson-Welden, Jordan Speas and 16-year-old
Sierra Duckett, who plays Forten. ?
Erich McMillan-McCall is the founder and CEO of ProjectlVOICE.
The mission of the not-for-profit performing arts organization
is to expand and promote the African-American theater
tradition. Each year on the third Monday in June, ProjectlVOICE
presents 1VOICE/1PLAY/1DAY, when theaters, libraries and other
institutions across the world organize readings of the same play
or musical. The event is designed to foster community awareness
and audience recommitment to local arts institutions. This year,
Samm-Art Williams' "Home" was selected. Past selections have
included Ntozake Shange's "For Colored Girls," Alice Childress'
'Trouble in Mind" and James Baldwin's 'The Amen Corner."
McMillan-McCall is also a talented actor and singer whose stage
credits include "Once on This Island," "The Who's Tommy,"
"Chicago" and "Harlem Song."