Woodie King Jr. Wraps Up Octoberfest

Stories About the Old Days by Bill Harris

By: - Nov 03, 2020

New Federal Theater Octoberfest  
Stories About The Old Days
Written by Bill Harris.
Directed by Latanya Richardson Jackson
Assistant Producer Linda Herring

 Stories About The Old Days closes Octoberfest, a delightful retrospective. Latanya Richardson-Jackson directs this two-hander to bring forward the meaning of faith, art and friendship. As the light filters through the red and gold stained glass windows of an old church,  the restrictions of the “zoom” style presentation are conquered.

Clayton (Michael Potts) and Ivy Watson (Pauletta Washington) are past retirement age. For different reasons, they find themselves together one morning in an empty church.  Clayton, a has-been blues-singer, stays in the basement and acts as the janitor. And Ivy, a comfortably retired factory worker and member of the choir, has come to pray. As they begin to talk, Ivy demands that the past be forgotten. Clayton has lost the ability to sing the blues and refuses to consider a future. Each of them struggles with the death of a loved one. Bereavement is draining sense out of the present.

The church too is past its prime. It is being shut down, unable to adjust to a changing neighborhood.  

Playwright Harris's dialog is funny, natural and poignant. Clayton and Ivy wrestle wittily with the stories of their past which impact on the present moment. Washington moves with grace as Ivy begins to shed the brittle exterior of a judgmental and self-satisfied churchwoman. She slowly and subtly reveals a sensitive soul in search of the meaning.

Washington's increasingly imparts a softer more vulnerable person. Potts is charming as he allows this very contrary woman to turn his resignation into hope. He lights up when finally recaptures his ability to sing the blues.

The narration by Beethovan Oden provides cohesion to the drama.

Desire for friendship, and a love of music, checkers and baseball bring these two lonely people together, as they find themselves meeting again, and again “by chance” in the empty church. A moving testament to the resilience of the human spirit, Ivy and Clayton show us we are nothing without love. Without a friend to hear and understand our song, we cannot truly sing. Stories About the Old Days provides uplifting performances to close the Octoberfest! 

On Saturday, November 14 an evening of dance music and remembrances will be streamed from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM on the New Federal Theatre website ( and on Harlem America (, a radio podcast channel founded recently by G. Keith Alexander.  The evening will adapt the festive style of DJ D-Nice's "Club Quarantine" to theatrical subjects.  Celebrities attending will include actors Danny Glover, and Robert Hooks and singer Sarah Dash (co-founder of Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles).  These stars and surprise guests will chat with NFT founder Woodie King, Jr. about the Theater's storied history.  Their interviews will be interlaced with a very dance-able 70s-'80s Rhythm Revue that has been selected and mixed by Felix Hernandez to recreate the aural environment of New Federal Theater's formative years.

New Federal Theatre invites you to a party on November 14th.