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National Black Theatre Festival - July 29 - August 3
North Carolina’s City of the Arts & Innovation is always abuzz when the National Black Theatre Festival is in town. The National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF), a biennial event brings together theatre goers and theatre professionals from across the globe. Over 120 performances in venues throughout the city transform Winston-Salem becomes a mega-performing arts centre that includes plays, film, family-friendly workshops, seminars, celebrity receptions and poetry slams.
Each year two celebrities are appointed co-chairs for the fesitval events. This year's co-chairs are Tony award-winning actess Tony Pinkins and actor Dorien Wilson of the former hit comedy series, The Parkers. Mr. Dorien Wilson is also making a stage appearance during the festival. More than fifty celebrities of stage, screen and television are expected to attend the Festival. Highlights include the Opening Night Gala, Theatre Productions, Readers' Theatre of New Works/Plays, International Colloquium (presented by NBTF, Winston-Salem State University and the Black Theatre Newtork), 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.
Most folks who attend the festival begin making their plans for the next theatre festival as soon as the current one ends. However, for first-time attendees there is a way to play catch-up with the more seasoned festival goers. Following is a checklist to make the most of your Festival experience:
A Word to Know – Festival founder, late Larry Leon Hamlin, combined two words, Marvelous and Fantastic and created the word, Marvtastic to describe the National Black Theater Festival experience. Practice using the word “Marvtastic” in a series of phrases, i.e. “It’s a Marvtastic evening,” “I had a Marvtastic time,” “You look Marvtastic.”
Theatre Festival Play Schedule – A schedule of plays and events can be obtained by contacting the NBTF for a printed schedule or going online to NBTF.org. The schedule will include the play’s title, date, time, location and the play number. Some plays are performed several times during the week, so knowing the play number is very important.
Purchasing Tickets – Advance tickets may be purchased by calling the Festival box office. These tickets will be mailed up to two weeks prior to the festival.
Getting Around – No need to worry about getting to plays. You can board the bus at downtown and other selected hotels to get to the productions. The bus ride is free.
Late Night – Get ready to paint the town purple and black (the official Festival colors)! Each night after of the plays, social gatherings are held all over the city. Downtown streets and sidewalk cafes are filled with people and music. Celebrity receptions and jazz performances are held at the host hotel and the Midnight Poetry Jam is a major attraction with overflow crowds. The Delta Arts Center offers an elegant late night Jazz Buffet if you want to break away to a quieter setting.
Make time – In addition to plays you take time to enjoy the cultural offerings of the city of the arts, including Diggs Gallery, Saint Philips Church at Old Salem Museums & Gardens and the Delta Arts Center.
Things to Pack – You’ll want to bring some comfortable clothing for the day time but for the night the attire is Chic, Très Chic, Chi-Chi and African inspired! You’ll be able to purchase clothing and accessories at the International Vendors Market. Bring business cards, theatre glasses, an autograph book, and most definitely a camera (the stars love to take pictures with you).
Have a Marvtastic Festival!!
To learn more about the festival, visit NBTF.org.
Check out the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival Documentary Teaser below.