A very special “celebration of life ceremony” for the late Garland Lee Thompson, Sr. will be held on Thursday, August 6, 2015 from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM during the world renowned 2015 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina. The ceremony will take place at the Marriott Hotel’s Hearn Ballroom located on Cherry Street in Winston-Salem, NC, 27101. Two, prior celebrations of this kind were held to honor Mr. Thompson in New York City. Hundreds of attendees from the New York tri-state entertainment and theatre-arts organizations and education remembered him at those events following the death of Mr. Thompson on November 18, 2014.
The Late Garland Lee Thompson Sr. was an accomplished actor, stage manager, director and producer. He dedicated over 43 years of his professional life supporting playwrights at the Frank Silvera Writers Workshop, Inc. (FSWW) in Harlem, New York. Through his tireless efforts, over 20,000 scripts were read by actors at the workshop. These readings notably included the works of Ntozake Shange’s and her award winning play, For Colored Girls Who Have Consider Suicide, When the Rainbow is Enuf, Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller and The Mighty Gents by Richard Wesley to name a few.
Thousands of writers, directors and actors participated over the numerous decades of the workshop’s distinguished history. A few of the writers included: Ruby Dee, Billie Allen, Angela Bassett, Adolph Caesar. Morgan Freeman, Debbie Allen, Chuck Patterson, Micki Grant, Philip Hayes Dean, Aduke Aremu, Ed Bullins, Samuel L. Jackson, LaTonya Richardson-Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Ray Aranha, Shanelle Perry, Roscoe Orman, Charles Dutton, Bill Cobbs, Ernie Baxter, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Samm Art Williams, Pauletta Washington, Shamika Cotton, Karen Baxter, Antonio Fargas, Darlene Gidney, Sean C. Turner, Bill Vila, M. Younger Roberts and David Sheppard.
Many of the said, 20,000 scripts have been archived and some of them are now housed at the historical Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY. Garland Sr. was most probably the most important wordsmith and dramaturg to impact the national stage of Black theatre playwrights in America. In addition, Thompson Sr. and The Frank Silvera Writers Workshop also produced several of the workshop readings by partnering to present fully mounted productions with Crystal Field and Theater for the New City, Miguel Algarin, Nuyorican Poets Cafe and Gertrude Jeanette and the H.A.D.L.E.Y Players. Thompson Sr. partnered with New York University to present the 1st Black Theatre Conference at New York University where he produced at that Black Box Theatre: “Bum Sonata” with Earl Davis and Dr. Robert Taylor. “King of the White Cloth” by David D. Wright was also co-produced with FSWW at The House of Champions in Harlem and “Oshun The Goddess of Love” at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York.
The National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem was founded in 1989 by the late Larry Leon Hamlin. More than fifty celebrities of stage, screen and television artists, producers and technicians attend the festival. Garland Thompson Sr. has produced the Reader’s Theatre of new works since the festival began. Other highlights include the Opening Night Gala, Theatre Productions, International Colloquium (presented by NBTF, Winston-Salem State University and the Black Theatre Network), the Youth/Celebrity Project and Teen TeenTastic, and the International Vendor’s Market which features vendors and crafts from every corner of the globe and live entertainment to add a little flair to your shopping experience. This festival brings in over 60,000 visitors from the theatre, TV and film industry as well as the academic world of theatre-arts along with noted celebrities.
The co-chairs for the 2015 festival are actress Debbi Morgan and actor Darnell Williams. The duo is best known for their roles as Jesse and Angie Hubbard on ABC’s “All My Children”. The two have continued their professional careers through Broadway performances, television and cinema.
The ACT III-Tribute and Celebration of Life for Garland Lee Thompson, Sr. in Winston Salem is coordinated by Aduke Aremu, executive chair and Darlene Gidney program development consultant. The staged readings are to be directed by Woodie King Jr. (with the assistance of Patricia White). Casting is coordinated by Bianca LaVerne Jones and stage managers are Sean C. Turner and Sirlouis Jones. The celebration’s college interns are Edward L. Blair , IV and Bri’Sche Fair. Jennifer Revels Baxter arranged for the attendance of Ruth Locklear Revels Chairperson of North Carolina Indian Affairs appointed by Pat McCory, the Governor of North Carolina and Amanda Sheek, Honor Winery will be doing sign language during the program
Master and Mistress of Ceremonies are Garland Thompson Jr. and Lillias White. Performing Artists will be Eagle Feather Dance Troupe with Brenda Silva and Company along with Haliwa -Saponi, Pueblo, Navajo and Lumbee Native American tribes, Otesha Creative Arts Ensemble with Hashim Saleh, David D. Wright – Yoruba Priest (Libation Ceremony), Joe Robinson Jazz Ensemble, Yacouba Mask Society – Chacaba Dancer, Peggy L. Clemons (Recording Artist), Bishop Wesley Wiley (Pianist) Mista B (Vocalist), Rhonda Hansome (Comedian) Carmen Deese (Actor) and Rome Neal (Vocalist). Spoken word artists will be coordinated by Marc Lee and include W. Calvin Anderson, Val Jones and Darrell Stover. Special Tributes will be offered by Micki Grant, Grace L. Jones, Ntozake Shange, Michael Dinwiddie, Harold Thomas, Kevin Mundy, Jennifer Revels Baxter.
A special art exhibit by Ademola Olugbefola will be featured at the Marriott. The event host coordinator is Joan Jai. Hosts include Jade Arnold, Bryan C. Jones, T. Renee’ Mathis, Zuhairah McGill, Deborah Pringle, Kimberly Q., Betty Rhodes, Kenthedo Robinson, Helen Sanders, Althea Alexis Vyfhuis.
The Executive Committee includes: Garland Thompson Jr., Aduke Aremu, Sylvia Sprinkle Hamlin, Darlene Gidney, W. Calvin Anderson, Marc Lee, Yvette Holder, Hashim Saleh, Woodie King Jr., Grace L. Jones, Michael Dinwiddie, John Foster, Dawn Alli, David D. Wright, Micki Grant, Voza Rivers, Eieshia Byson, Harold Thomas, Ademola Olugbefola, Sabura Rashid, Nana Malaya Rucker-Oparabea, Lamman Rucker, Kevin Mundy, Lawrence Evans, Edward L. Blair IV, BriSche Fair, Pamela A. Murray, Bill McClain, Mista B, Renee Charlow, Helen Sanders, Fredric Michaels, Wendell Tabb, Carl Clay, Jeanette W. Hill, Deborah Abrams, Lisa C. Shelly
Sponsors are Dove, LLC, Be Rich Entertainment, LLC, Denzel and Pauletta Washington, AUDELCO, Midland Park Veterinary Clinic, Herman LeVerne Jones, Joan Cartwright, Arrowhead Graphics, Irie Rhythms Restaurant, Arthur and Ernestine Reed, Hopeton Blair Atlanta Five Star Limos, Camp Half Blood Brooklyn, Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop Inc., New Heritage Theatre Group, Theatre South Florida Inc., Theatre South Atlanta Inc., Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, Women in Jazz South Florida Inc., The Black Theatre Network, Black Spectrum Theatre, David and Me Publishing , New Federal Theatre. The technical/videography Arthur Reese (Technical Supervisor), Joan H. Allen—Inside New York City -TV (videographer).
The Workshop was founded in 1973 by playwright/director Garland Lee Thompson, along with famed actor/director Morgan Freeman, director/actress Billie Allen and journalist Clayton Riley, as a living memorial to the late actor, director, teacher and producer, Frank Silvera (1914-1970). The Workshop has been based in the heart of Harlem, New York, for the past 43 years. The Workshop has over the years developed a prestigious reputation for having supported the craft of emerging, national and internationally recognized playwrights. Garland’s diligent records contain administrative files, production files, including contracts and set designs, and thousands of play scripts from the Writers/Directors series and the Larry Neal Memorial Seminar Series. Scripts are chiefly unpublished and un-produced and were written by members of the workshop. Among playwrights included are Mari Evans, Billy Graham, A. Marcus Hemphill, Larry Neal, Vinnette Carroll, Ruby Dee, Owen Dodson, Charles Gordone, Charles Fuller, Laurence Holder, James De Jongh, Clifford Mason, Ntozake Shange, Ed Shockley, Garland Lee Thompson Sr., Richard Wesley, and Samm-Art Williams. Garland Thompson Sr. was born February 14, 1938 and died on November 18, 2014 in New York City.
For a look at a small section of research please see: New York Public Library Schomberg Collection FRANK SILVERA WRITER’S WORKSHOP 1973-1982. Creator: Frank Silvera Writers Workshop, Call number Sc MG 64, Physical description, 83 linear feet
The Seventh Annual TEER Spirit Awards honors and recognizes individuals within the community that exemplify the attributes of three pioneers within National Black Theatre’s history: Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, NBT’s Founding Visionary, Adetunde Samuel, a charismatic producer who headed NBT’s award winning Theatre Arts Program, and Fredrica L. Teer, an institution builder who conceived and organized the foundation that made the idea of National Black Theatre a reality. Outside of these awards, National Black Theatre honors a Pioneer in the field of Black Theatre and gives Special Recognition to individuals for outstanding contributions to their community. The Teer Spirit Awards was inaugurated in 2008 after the passing of Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, the founder of the National Black Theatre. June 18th is the birth date of Dr. Barbara Ann Teer and is called Founder’s Day.
Honorable Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye
[DR. BARBARA ANN TEER SPIRIT AWARD}
Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, Roberta Uno
[FREDRICA L. TEER AWARD]
Carmen De Lavallade, Rosalba Rolón, Sydne Mahone
Kwame Kwei-Armah, Kamilah Forbes
[ADETUNDE SAMUEL AWARD]
Russel G. Jones
Celebrating 47 Years In the Harlem Community!
Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre,
Board of Directors & Honorary Host Committee includes:
Shashi Balooja⎟Sherry B. Bronfman⎟Peggy Cooper Cafritz ⎟Teresa Eyring ⎟ Ezra Ezzard⎟Claudette & Ade Faison⎟Shirley Faison⎟Ebony Ebony Noelle Golden⎟Alia Jones-Harvey⎟Omodara Hewlin & Ayodele Moore⎟Woodie King⎟Leslie Lewis⎟Michael (Adeyemi) Lythcott⎟Jill Newman , Jill Newman Productions ⎟James Reynolds⎟Jennifer Carter-Scott⎟Michele Shay⎟Mike & Lakesha Walrond⎟Michelle Wilson⎟Sankofa.org
Courtesy of Hoffmanjazz
The late Loften Mitchell attended the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem. He was a brilliant and very, very nice man. I think he would be proud of all the Black Theatre, Black Drama and American and international theatre mega events with black perspectives. His many works must be curated and preserved for generations to come.
From Columbus, North Carolina, his parents were Ulysses Sanford Mitchell and Willia Spaulding Mitchell. In addition to having three brothers, he had one sister, Gladys. The family moved to Harlem before young Mitchell was a month old. His first stage productions were the shows that he and brothers Louis, Melvin, and Clayton performed in the backyard of their home in Harlem.
Mitchell’s further interest in the theater began at the vaudeville theaters of Harlem. He learned first-hand the promise of Black theater as he observed at work such pioneering Black artists as Dick Campbell, Ralph Cooper, Ethel Waters, Fredi Washington, and Canada Lee. He also witnessed the negative stereotypes of African Americans in the American theater and later worked to remove such images in order to project real-life, positive images. Mitchell enrolled in New York Textile High but transferred to DeWitt Clinton High, where he graduated with honors in 1937. He found work as an elevator operator and delivery boy to support himself while he studied playwriting during the evening at City College of New York and performed with the Rose McClendon Players in Harlem. A professor from Talladega College in Alabama helped him win a scholarship to study there, and Mitchell received his B.A. degree with honors in 1943.
Mitchell married Helen Marsh that same year and they had two sons, Thomas and Melvin. They were divorced in 1956. While at Talladega, he won an award for the best play that included the stories he had heard at the vaudeville houses while he was growing up in Harlem. It also became the basis for his critical work later published in 1967, Black Drama: The Story of the American Negro in the Theater. After two years in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Mitchell enrolled as a graduate student at Columbia University in New York. In 1948 he accepted a job with the Department of Welfare as a social investigator, but continued to study during evenings. At this time he wrote Blood in the Night 1946, which was followed by The Bancroft Dynasty1948, and The Cellar 1952. In 1957 he wrote A Land Beyond the River, a drama based on South Carolina pastor and schoolteacher Joseph DeLaine’s historic court case, which ended segregation in public schools.
The following year Mitchell won a Guggenheim award, which enabled him to return to Columbia and write for a year. Mitchell worked as a writer and actor for New York radio station WNYC’s weekly program The Later Years (1950–1962). He also wrote a daily program titled Friendly Advisor for radio station WWRL in New York (1954). A series of plays followed: The Photographer 1962, Ballad of Bimshire 1963, Ballad for the Winter Soldiers 1964, Tell Pharaoh, which was televised in 1963 and produced on-stage in 1967and Star of the Morning 1965. Mitchell’s most successful musical was Bubbling Brown Sugar 1975, written with Rosetta LeNoire. It opened on Broadway, traveled to London, was nominated for a Tony Award for best musical, and was awarded the Best Musical Award in 1977.
He also wrote Cartoons for a Lunch Hour 1978, A Gypsy Girl 1982, and Miss Ethel Waters 1983. Mitchell never lost sight of the need for a written history of Blacks in the theater. He wrote Black Drama in 1967. In this collection of 12 essays, Mitchell discussed Charles Gilpin’s work in Eugene O’Neill’s Emperor Jones at the Provincetown Theatre in 1920. Mitchell was a professor at State University of New York at Binghamton’s theater department and the Department of African American Studies (1971–85), and professor emeritus from 1985 to the present. In addition, he wrote a novel, The Stubborn Old Lady Who Resisted Change (1973), and edited Voices of the Black Theater (1976). He won a playwriting award from the Research Foundation, State University of New York (1974), and the Outstanding Theatrical Pioneer Award from the Audience Development Committee in 1979.
He married Gloria Anderson in 1991. An important figure who has made important contributions to the African American theater, Loften Mitchell’s work as playwright and essayist preserves the work of Black artists who preceded him as well as those whose genius, talents, and pioneering efforts were realized during his lifetime. He has documented an important part of Black America’s cultural development, in addition to contributing to that development through the body of his own written work.
Contemporary Black Biography, various volumes
Edited by Shirelle Phelps
Copyright 1999 by Gale Research, Detroit, London
See Selected Writings in Encyclopedia.com
Celebrities, coordinating committee members and honorary chairs are requesting your support of the Salute for the Late Garland Lee Thompson, Sr. which will be held on August 6, 2015 from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM during the world renowned 2015 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina, NC at the M.C. Benton Convention Center, 301 West Fifth Street Winston-Salem, NC 27101.This festival brings in over 60,000 visitors from the theatre, TV and film industry as well as the academic world of theatre-arts along with noted celebrities.
The Late Garland Lee Thompson Sr. dedicated over 43 years supporting playwrights at the Frank Silvera Writers Workshop, Inc. in Harlem, New York. Through his tireless efforts, over 20,000 scripts were created and read at the workshop, including Ntozake Shange’s award winning play For Colored Girls Who Have Consider Suicide, When the Rainbow is Enuf, Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller and The Mighty Gents by Richard Wesley to name a few.
Thousands of Writers, Directors and Actors participated over the numerous decades of historical participation as part of the workshop such as, Ruby Dee, Billie Allen, Angela Bassett, Adolph Caesar. Morgan Freeman, Debbie Allen, Chuck Patterson, Micki Grant, Philip Hayes Dean, Aduke Aremu, Ed Bullins, Samuel L. Jackson, LaTonya Richardson-Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Ray Aranha, Shanelle Perry, Roscoe Orman, Charles Dutton, Bill Cobbs, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Samm Art Willians, Pauletta Washington, Shamika Cotton, Karen Baxter, Antonio Fargas, Darlene Gidney, Sean C. Turner, Bill Vila, M. Younger Roberts and David Sheppard to name a few.
Many of the 20,000 scripts are now housed at the historical Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (http://archives.nypl.org/scm/20721) in Harlem, NY. Thompson Sr. was probably one of the most important theatre development icons to impact the national stage of Black theatre in America.In addition, Thompson Sr. and The Frank Silvera Writers Workshop produced several of the workshop readings by partnering to present fully mounted productions with Crystal Field and Theater for the New City, Miguel Algarin, Nuyorican Poets Cafe and Gertrude Jeanette and the H.A.D.L.E.Y Players. Thompson Sr. partnered with New York University to present the 1st Black Theatre Conference at New York University where he produced at that Black Box Theatre: “Bum Sonata” with Earl Davis and Dr. Robert Taylor. “King of the White Cloth” by David D.Wright was also co produced with FSWW at The House of Champions in Harlem and “Oshun The Goddess of Love” at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York.
We are asking you to join this “Labor of Love” Salute for Garland Lee Thompson, Sr. by donating $100 to be on the Executive Committee, $50 to be a patron to keep this workshop alive for many more decades or $25 just because you worked with Garland Sr. and it was a memorable experience. Your name will appear in the historical commemorative journal.
“Black Theatre is alive and well and we are continuing our legacies and traditions for the next generation to tell their stories”.
Deadline for Donations is June 30th and your name will be printed in the Commemorative Journal.
Sincerely and Much Love,
Program Development Consultant and Article: Darlene Gidney (201)562-5337,
“Be Rich Entertainment, LLC” Honorary Co -Chairs: Garland Thompson Jr., Woodie King Jr., Dawn Alli, Voza Rivers, Micki Grant, Ntozake Shange, Grace Jones, Nana Malaya Rucker-Oparabea; Lamman Rucker, (list incomplete). Co- Chairs and Founders of Salute: Richard Wesley, Dr. John Foster, Professor Michael Dinwiddie, Sabura Rashid, W. Calvin Anderson, Hashim Salih, Marc Lee, Dr. Ademola Olugebefola, Harold Thomas and