The historic Theatre Training Workshops of Woodie King, Jr.’s New Federal Theatre will move uptown next month to Dwyer Cultural Center at 258 St. Nicholas Ave. (at 123rd Street). They were previously held in spaces adjoining the theater’s offices at 292 Henry Street. The workshops have been a fertile training ground for leading African-American playwrights and actors.
Classes in the new location will begin Monday, October 10th from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM and will meet each Monday through December 19, 2016. Courses will include Playwriting taught by Michael Dinwiddie, Laurence Holder and Cassandra Medley; Acting 1 taught by Nora Cole, Mary Hodges, Rosalyn Coleman and Eric Coleman and Acting 2 taught by Arthur French, Charles Turner and Alice Spivak. The fee is $375.00 per course. For info and registration, interested students can write firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-353-1176.
New Federal Theatre (www.newfederaltheatre.com) was founded in 1970 on the Lower East Side with the bold mission of integrating people of color and women into mainstream American theater. It has since become a launching pad for emerging artists and groundbreaking theatre works. In 1975, the theater founded educational workshops in playwriting and drama workshops for adults and teens. They became a powerhouse program whose contributions have not yet been fully appreciated, although many of its alumni are now legendary.
The theatre and its workshop have helped bring to national attention such playwrights as Ed Bullins, Amiri Baraka, J.e Franklin, Ntozake Shange, David Henry Hwang, Ron Milner, Joseph Lazardi, Damien Leake, Genny Lim, Laurence Holder, Alexis DeVeaux, and others. Actor veterans include Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Debbie Allen, Samuel L. Jackson, Laurence Fishburne, Robert Downey, Jr., Ruby Dee, Leslie Uggams, Jackée Harry, Phylicia Rashad, Dick Anthony Williams, Glynn Turman, Taurean Blacque, Garrett Morris, Sam MacMurray, Debbie Morgan, Lynn Whitfield, Reginald Vel-Johnson, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Ella Joyce and many more.
On January 19, 2016, New Federal Theater observed the 40th year of its Theatre Acting and Playwriting Workshop with an intimate gathering of some of its prominent playwrights, teachers and actors. A video of the event was made which offers a fabulous oral history of the Workshop, capturing and preserving significant testimonials by artists whose careers were shaped there. To view the video, go to https://youtu.be/GHAYe1hKjbk.