The National Black Theatre Festival returned to Winston-Salem after a three-year break due to Covid and running biennially, for the week of August 1 – 6, 2022 The event kicked off as the purple carpet was rolled out for the star studded Gala and over 1,000 guests on August 1st at the downtown Benton Convention Center.
The founder of the event, Larry Leon Hamlin created the festival in an effort to connect black theatres from around the country. He wanted to ensure that black theatre survived and thrived. He felt having the event every 2 years would guarantee that there would be enough time for proper planning for a successful festival.
There were many local sponsors for the NBTF that helped make the event possible, including Truliant, Atrium Health, Novant Health and the Winston Salem Forsyth Arts Council. There were also many volunteers who helped make the 6- day event such a welcoming back success, along with leadership from the NC Black Repertory Company, April Broadway – Managing Director NCBRC, Jackie Alexander – Executive Producer of the NBTF and Dr. Eric Sadler – Board Chair NCBRC. Downtown Winston-Salem has become known as the ‘City of Arts and Innovation’ and with the NBTF in town it certainly lived up to its name.
There were over 130 performances throughout the community in 22 different venues during the festive week all performed by professional Black theatre companies from around the world. There were also workshops, a reader’s theatre of new works and many other activities during the week. The celebrity co-chairs for this year’s event was Lisa Arrindell (“Madea’s Family Reunion” and “Livin’ Large”) and Petri Hawkins-Byrd (‘Bailiff Byrd’ from “Judge Judy”).
Brian McLaughlin, Media Relations Director with the National Black Theatre Festival comments, “The NBTF is one of the most historic and culturally significant events in the history of black theatre and is produced by The North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NCBRC). NBTF is the only theatre festival in the country offering six consecutive days of professional theatre. We honor both Larry Leon Hamlin and Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin for leaving us such a legacy to continue here on black theatre holy ground.”
For more information go to www.nbtf.org