The lives and legacies of three giants of American History — Frederick Douglass, W.E. B. DuBois and Adam Clayton Powell III — will take center stage at Woodie King Jr.’s National Black Touring Circuit’s Black History Month Play Festival, in separate performances occurring at various theatres, weekends, February 8 – 24.
“This year’s Festival examines American history from antislavery Abolitionists to the emergence of the NAACP to the height of the civil rights movement,” says King, who founded NBTC in 1974 and continues to produce and direct the series, supported by award-winning producer/actress Kim Weston Moran as associate producer. “It’s especially important for younger audiences to comprehend the relentless determination of these men as they faced inconceivable challenges in the pursuit of racial equality. They laid the framework for achievement by contemporary African-American political figures including President Obama.”
The Black History Month Play Festival will feature three-day weekend separate performances for each legend, and post-play discussions. At last weekend’s press announcement reception, the noted playwright/community activist/scholar Amiri Baraka reflected on issues faced by these African-American political figures and their respective contributions to history.
The Festival schedule follows:
February 8 – 10: Adam, a biographical drama on Cong. Adam Clayton Powell starring Timothy Simonson at the Dwyer Cultural Center, at 258 St. Nicholas Avenue. Written by Peter DeAnda and directed by Shauneille Perry, Adam is a dramatization of the words and thoughts of the Reverend and Honorable Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Adam follows the handsome and charismatic Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. on his political journey as the Congressman who represented Harlem between 1945 and 1971.
February 15-21: He Who Endures, starring Ralph McCain as Frederick Douglass, will be presented at the National Black Theatre, 2031 Fifth Avenue (at 125th Street). He Who Endures, written by Bill Harris and directed by Ajene D. Washington, is set prior to the Civil War with Douglass questioning the direction the Abolitionist Movement with the Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, John Brown and slave-turned-rebel Shields Green. It co-stars Norman Marshall, Marcus Naylor and Leopold Lowe.
February 22 – 24: Dr. DuBois and Miss Ovington will be held at the Castillo Theatre, 543 West 42nd Street (between 10th and 11th Avenue). Co-starring Peter Jay Fernandez as W.E.B. DuBois and Kathleen Chalfant as Mary White Ovington. The play is written by Clare Coss and directed by Gabrielle Kurlander. It captures a moment of crisis between two esteemed founders of the NAACP in 1915 when DuBois submits his resignation.
Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 3:00pm. Tickets: $20. For information: (212) 279-4200 or ticketcentral.com.