Woodie King Jr. (82) is the founder of the New Federal Theatre in New York City. He celebrated his “birthday week” as usual, at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina. As far back as 1975 Mr. King was called, “The Renaissance Man of Black Theatre” by theatre arts journalist, Peter A. Bailey. Woodie King Jr. was, even then, a noted actor, producer, director, and filmmaker. Another noted Black Arts’ editor and critic, Hoyt W. Fuller called King, “the leading entrepreneur in Black Theatre in the center of the American theatre industry”.
This part of the interview is about Wood King Jr. and his opening night presentation of a Special Recognition Award to, Herman LeVern Thompson-Jones. Mr. Jones is a Garner, North Carolina native. Herman, an actor, producer, educator, and director of American theatre was an “influencer” in the creation of the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem in 1989.
Herman LeVern Jones (above) is today the founder of TheatreSouth in Homestead, Florida. The 30-year old National Black Theatre Festival was founded by the late Larry Leon Hamlin.
Today, it is continued by his wife Sylvia Sprinkle Hamlin and executive producer Jackie Alexander. The National Black Theatre Festival is not only the premiere Black theatre festival, it is the largest of its kind in the world. The first festival brought 10,000 people to the area. The 2019 festival according to local television media (MSN Channel 12) is expected to have an economic impact of $10 million dollars on the City of Winston-Salem and Triad area. The 2019 festival will showcase 130 performances, free workshops, an international intellectual colloquium, diverse reader’s theatre, a nationally competitive Words & Verses (poetry slam), daily youth/celebrity projects, matinees, teen talent shows and more. This interview is produced and directed by W. Calvin Anderson for Itz Black Theatre magazine. All rights reserved.