NAACP 19th Annual Theatre Awards Review - A Presentation of Skill and Creativity

For the second year in a row, the NAACP Theatre Awards presented a festival of upcoming black writers and actors.  Held August 29 and 30th in the New LATC building on Spring Street, the festival showed numerous ten minute act plays - some better than others. 

NAACP - Theater Festival : The Pen is Mightier, TannLyne Productions, Gregory Carr

Hosted buy N'Bushe Wright it was an amazing two days of entertainment and creativity, the festival was directed by Clarence R Williams.  The two days were made of panels and plays.  Group discussions on such topics as Why is Legitmate Theatre still Relevant in the Age of New Media, Putting Equity in Equity, Mounting a One Person Show, From Page to Stage - Writing and Directing Your Play and Dance as Theatre featured such notables as Lula Washington, Lacy Darryl Philips, Aaron Woolfolk, Michelle Shay, Ben Guillory, Alretha Thomas, Greg T Daniels. Iona Morris, Adilah Barnes, Joyce Guy, Sloan Robinson, Stogie Kenyatta, Barbara Roberts, Nikki Crawford, Aimee Atwell, Harrison White, Jose Luis Valenzuela, Sheldon Epps, Hattie Winston, Richard Gant, Tim Toyama, Bernard Kinsey, and Lorey Hayes.

NAACP Theatre Awards - Clarence Williams - the 24 hour play

Two of my favorites were The Pen Is Mightier - about the power of words as Ida Wells Barnett, noted civil rights leader and anti lynching crusader is on the run from Memphis, Tenn.   Done by TannLyne Producdtions, the show was written by Gregory S Carr, and produced and directed by Tann Moore and Lyne Hardimon and also stared a well known TV actor, Asante Jones and Malik Anthony. 

My other favorites were Judgment Day, in which the  versions of black women - the well educated, the hooker, the clueless one, half and half, and the religious one take the black man to court.  Done in song and poetry and well acted, it was written by Cocoa Brown and Janean Jeffries.  Also Dear Hollywood written by Cocoa Brown showing the constant stereotypes that Hollywood continues to believe Black actors can play no matter how they are trained or what they look like.
Also very enjoyable in those plays were The Fourth of July speech by Fredrick Douglas, rewritten by Elizabeth Anderson, and the 24 hour play produced by Clarence Williams, who also assisted with putting the awards and festival together.

NAACP Awards - Debra Hayter of Suzanne DeLaurentiis Productions and Carol Earley - 4th of July

The evening festival, held at the Directors Guild of America was produced by Tia Boyld and hosted well known members of the Black community -actress Dreamgirl Loretta Devine and NFL star turned actor Terry Crews (Everyone Hates Chris.)  They honored a variety of performers and those in the creative arts or strong supporters of such.  Sheldon Epps, former director and now artistic  director of the Pasadena Playhouse received the Community Service Award; former police chief, Councilman Bernard Parks received the President's Award ; Audra McDonald, The Trailblazer Award and Tichina Arnold held the Spirit Award.  Ruben Santiago Hudson was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

NAACP Theater Awards - volunteers - Yvonne and Yvette Butler and Nicki Hannah

The show was an evening not only of awards but creative ventures as well.  Vincent Cook did part of his one man show on Malcolm X, R and B sensation Ledisi sang several tune and a special duet was done by Jennifer Leigh Warren and Tonex.   Sloan Robinson's performance of Bananas, songs by Ledisi, performances from Ain't Misbehavin, and Bones of a Lesser Man also stood out.

NAACP Theater Awards : Bernard Parks

Fabulous presenters included Laila Ali, Laz Alonso, James Avery, Monique Coleman, Eric Benet, Keith David, Nautica De La Cruz, Aiisha Ferguson, Robert Gosset, Jr, Louis Gossett, Jr, Toccara Jones, Lisaraye, Jimmy Jean Louis, Mari Marrow, Timmi Mac, Judge Mabalean, Judge Mathis, Darius McCray, Brian McKnight, Niecyh Nash, Julia Pace Mitchell and Elise Neal.  Also there were Harold Perrineau, Andrre Pitre, Kyla Pratt, Cedric Sanders, Wendy Rquel Robinson, Kelley Price, Lady Shaunte, Tasia Sherel, Henry Simmons, Lauren Velez, Al B. Sure, Gary Sturgis, Damon Wayans, Jr, Karimah Westbrook, Brian White, Tristan Wilds, Michael Jai White, and Camille Winbush.

Sponsors of the event included Ciroc Vokka, Marley Coffee, Southern California Edison, BET, Honda, Avid Solutions Graphics, Bradford Tonic, Rent A Center, Pan Africanist, PALEF, KJLH radio, Verizon, Vincent Cirrincione Associates, and Crystal Catering and Events.

Theatre winners included Ragtime, the Musical (Stephanie Simpson for Choreography), Bananas-(Leroy Richardson, best costume, Aeros Pierce best music director), Black Angels Over Tuskegee (Best Ensemble), Turpentine Jake (Rae'ven Larrymore Kelly - Best lead female), Gem of the Ocean (Adolphus Ward - best male lead) and Tene Carter Miller (best famale supporting) and Bones of a Lesser Man (Yves Lola St. Vil, playwright.)  On the Equity side, No Child (Nilaja Sun, best playwright)and best female lead), Atlanta (Best ensemble), As You Like It (Earnestine Phillips best female supporting, and Gerald Rivers, best male supporting.

To find out more about the NAACP go to or call 410 580 5777. 

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