New Federal Theatre Opens Fall Season

Gala and Micki Grant Premiere Directed by Woodie King Jr.

By: - Sep 09, 2023

New Federal Theatre's Fall gala will be held in the Edison Ballroom On October 2, and honors Woodie King, Jr., Gabrielle Kurlander and Sade Lythcott. Kenny Leon and Lynn Whitfield chair the event.  

New Federal Theatre (NFT) has produced more works by minority playwrights and women than any other organization in the history of New York theater.  Its name came out of the Federal Theatre Project, created under the FDR administration and directed by Hallie Flannigan, which had 35 Negro Units across America.  In over 450 productions, NFT has brought an exceptional cohort of minority actors, directors, and designers to national attention.  These include playwrights Ron Milner, J.E. Franklin, Ed Bullins, Pearl Cleage, Charles Fuller, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Laurence Holder, Ntozake Shange ("for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf") and Amiri Baraka ("Slave Ship," "Black Girl"), "When The Chickens Came Home To Roost") and actors Denzel Washington, Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad, S. Epatha Merkerson, Issa Rae, La Tanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Chadwick Boseman, and Morgan Freeman.  Its vocational training workshops, begun in 1976, have prepared Black people for employment in the theatre.

Woodie King, Jr., Founder and Producing Director Emeritus of New Federal Theatre, has been a father in the theater to generations of Black and women playwrights, actors and other professionals whose work he has nurtured and presented since the 1970's. The company rose to national prominence with such productions as "Black Girl" by J.e. Franklin, which won a Drama Desk Award; "The Taking of Miss Janie" by Ed Bullins, which moved from NFT to Lincoln Center and won the Drama Critics Circle Award; and "for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf" by Ntozake Shange, which performed on Broadway for ten months and was nominated for the Best Play Tony Award.  before embarking on a three-year national tour. It has subsequently been performed regionally and around the world and was revived in 2019.  Woodie King, Jr. and NFT received the 2020 Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre. 

Gabrielle L. Kurlander is a theater director, actor and nonprofit entrepreneur who left a Broadway national tour in 1987 to join the grassroots Castillo Theatre and its blend of activism and political and multicultural theater.  She has spent more than 35 years building programs to empower poor and underserved communities using an innovative performance approach. She has served as founding CEO of All Stars Project since 1989.  She serves on the boards of The Arts Community Alliance and All Stars Project.

Sade Lythcott is the CEO of the historic National Black Theatre (NBT). She is the daughter of the late Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, founder of NBT and legendary champion of African-American arts and culture. As a leader and staunch advocate for women and people of color in the cultural sector, she chairs the Coalition of Theaters of Color, serves on the board of directors of Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and the advisory boards of the Black Genius Foundation, Art in a Changing America, and HueArts NYC Project.  In 2021, she served on the New York Governor’s task force to reopen live performance statewide after pandemic-era shuttering and was chosen by New York City Mayor Elect Eric Adams to co-lead his transition committee on Parks, Arts and Culture and was tasked to contribute to the blueprint for New York City’s recovery. 

"Telling Tales Out of School" by Wesley Brown, directed by Woodie King, Jr., will open NFT’s Fall Season on October 17, 2023.  

Contact:  New Federal Theatre