June 20, 2024

A Guide to the 2024 International Black Theatre Festival

From festival highlights to new features, here's what to know ahead of the 2024 International Black Theatre Festival.  

IBTF in full swing

It's time to pull out your purple and black because the International Black Theatre Festival is almost back. Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2024, this biennial event rolls out its signature purple carpet from July 29 to August 3, bringing over 100 performances to venues across Winston-Salem. Other highlights include a star-studded celebrity gala, midnight poetry slam, workshops and seminars, film festivals, youth programs, and the beloved International Vendors Market.  

With several new offerings and features in the works, the 2024 festival is shaping up to be the most “marvtastic” one yet. Before the purple carpet rolls out, here’s a few things to know before you go. 

New Shows and Familiar Favorites 

With more than 130 shows on tap, this year’s show lineup includes a mix of highly acclaimed new productions and proven crowd-pleasers. Alexander offered a few highlights along with a reminder to purchase tickets ASAP. “You don’t want to wait until the last second, because many of these shows will sell out.” Ticket prices range from $10-$60.

  • “Coconut Cake,” an award-winning play from NC Black Rep directed by Winston-Salem’s own Nathan Ross Freeman. It stars former soap opera stars Count Stoval and Nathan Purdee. 
  • “Twisted Melodies,” an immersive one-man tribute to musical icon Donny Hathaway that’s garnered nationwide acclaim.  
  • “King Hedley II,” written by famed playwright August Wilson and starring Dorian Missick (All Rise, For Life). 
  • “Nephew Tommy’s Life After 50,” written and performed by Thomas “Nephew Tommy” Miles, co-host of The Steve Harvey Morning Show. 
  • “A Motown Celebration,” a crowd-pleasing explosion of tunes and tales starring Broadway veteran and IBTF fan favorite Chester Gregory. 
  • “Float Like a Butterfly,” a one-man play that homages boxing great Muhammad Ali.

For show times, descriptions, and tickets, click here:
 buy tickets here!

Free Events for the Community 

According to Jackie Alexander, artistic director and producer of the IBTF, this year’s festival is designed to unite the community. “We want all of Winston-Salem to come celebrate with us, so we’re offering a lot of free programming to the public.” There will be shows tackling social issues, fun stage readings, a voter registration drive, fascinating historical exhibits, a youth talent showcase, and much more. 

Here are a few highlights to note: 

  • Old School Block PartyNeed to stretch your legs after spending all day in the theatre? Head to the Old School Block Party, a free nightly event in downtown’s Corpening Plaza happening Aug 1-3 from 7 to 11 p.m. The event will feature live bands, food trucks, and other entertainment. Complementing the Block Party is Teentastic, a free two-night event for teens featuring DJs, entertainment, games, and food trucks. It’s being held, Aug. 2-3, at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds beginning at 7 p.m.  
  • Finding Holy Ground Project. In a first-time partnership with Wake Forest University, IBTF is presenting a free program called “Finding Holy Ground” which examines race, religion, and justice in America. The title comes from another catchphrase heard during the festival: “Black Theatre Holy Ground.” The program will include two plays — “Heritage” and “I Am… a Shepherdess,” — along with a concert, panels, and workshops.  
  • “Young Thang" VR Experience. Kids 5 and older are invited to Benton Convention Center on Friday, Aug. 2, for a free screening of "Young Thang," a virtual reality film based on a Nigerian folktale. Screenings will be from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The film will also be screened the morning of Saturday, Aug. 3, in conjunction with a free family program and performance, “Telling Our Stories Through Poetry.” (Time TBD). IBTF is partnering with UNC School of the Arts to get virtual reality headsets for the screening. 
Upgraded Mobile App IBTF app

If there’s one thing you don’t want to forget before you arrive, it’s to download the festival’s upgraded mobile app. This handy little guide offers a whole new way to experience the festivities, creating a one-stop shop with everything you need. Users can check show schedules, read descriptions, purchase tickets, build itineraries, and use the app’s map functions to navigate around the city. Equally important, the app allows organizers to share timely updates, last-second developments, and exciting news with attendees during the festival. (After all, you never know when a surprise guest might pop up at a panel discussion.)

The app is available for iPhones via the App Store and Androids via the Google Play store. (To download, search your app store for “NC Black Rep,” the festival’s presenting sponsor.)  

New Name, New Look, Same Magic 

The biggest change to this year’s festival has nothing to do with events or shows. Instead, it has to do with the name. Known since its founding in 1989 as the National Black Theatre Festival, it was rebranded as the International Black Theatre Festival to reflect its increasingly global appeal. 

IBTF logoAlong with the new name, organizers rolled out the festival’s first rebranding in 44 years. The new look is highlighted by a memorable new logo featuring various purple shades. In the center of the logo are silhouettes of the festival’s two late pioneering forces, founder Larry Leon Hamlin and his wife Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin. Hamlin launched the festival in 1989 with the support of Dr. Maya Angelou, who served as the festival’s first chairperson. When he passed away in 2007, Sylvia kept the festival moving forward until her own death in 2022. Along the way, the festival has grown into the world’s largest and most significant event for black theatre — just as Hamlin envisioned. 

“The festival might have a new name, but it carries on with the same mission,” Alexander says. “And that’s bringing black theatre to everyone.” 

BOOK TODAY! Coming to town for the festival? Then book your hotel room ASAP before they all fill up. A number of partner hotels offer bonus perks to festival guests, such as free shuttle service and special rates. Find your room below:
 book your room 


Find more details on the 2024 International Black Theatre Festival on our event webpage