Year 44: Voza Rivers At Gala By Woodie King Jr.'s New Federal Theatre

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Voza Rivers

[Theater]

Harry Belafonte and Mayor David N. Dinkins are Honorary Co-Chairs.

Danny Glover and Debbi Morgan To Host Gala at Tribeca Center for the Performing Arts

Woodie King, Jr.’s New Federal Theatre (NFT) will celebrate its 44th anniversary with a special gala honoring legendary producer Voza Rivers on Sunday, March 16 at the Tribeca Center for the Performing Arts, located at 199 Chambers Street. This special event, which begins with a 3:00pm reception and followed by the awards program, will be co-hosted by Danny Glover and Debbi Morgan.

The NFT’s gala honorary committee includes Ruby Dee, Congressman Charles Rangel, Cliff Frazier, Natsu Ifill, Byron Lewis, Sen. Bill Perkins, Shauneille Perry, Marcia Sells, Daniel Beaty, and Lloyd Williams. The benefit committee includes Jeff Burns, Jr., Imhotep Gary Byrd, Stephen Davis, Geoffrey Eaton, Irene Gandy, Barbara Horowitz, Jamal Joseph, Lonette McKee, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Michael Unthank, Linda Walton, Karen Witherspoon, George Williams, Jr. and others.

Voza Rivers, executive producer and co-founder of New Heritage Repertory Theatre, is renowned as Harlem’s cultural impresario.  Rivers is an accomplished theatre, music, film and events producer and is recognized as one of the country’s leading African American theatre producers. In 1964, he met Roger Furman, New Heritage Theatre founder, who was an acclaimed playwright/ director, and a member of the American Negro Theatre (1940-1949), which included Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Gertrude Jeannette, and Fred O’Neil among many others. Rivers became Executive Director of New Heritage upon Furman’s death in 1983. By1984, Rivers and his team South African play, Woza Albert!, featuring Mbongeni Ngema and Percy Mtwaat the Lucille Lortel Theater on Broadway to allow New Heritage to transfer and produce this powerful play about apartheid, at New Heritage’s theater in Harlem. The success of Woza Albert! initiated a historic relationship between New Heritage, Mbongeni Ngema and Black South African artists that has fostered such major productions such as Ngema’s Asinamali! and Sarafina! the Musical – both shows went to Broadway.

The relationship between New Heritage’s team (Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Andre Robinson, and Duma Ndlovu) continues to this day. In 1988, New Heritage presented the stage production of Sarafina! in Harlem at Aaron Davis. Awards include the League of American Theatres and Producers’ Foundation for the Extension and Development of the American Professional Theatre and the United Nations Medal for Peace. He received a Grammy nomination, as one of the producers of the Sarafina! cast album and co-produced with Lincoln Center Theater a musical concert featuring Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masakela and the Sarafina! cast at Radio City Music Hall. Over the years, New Heritage’s IMPACT Repertory Theatre has featured hundreds of youth ages 12 to 19 with original staged performances in front of live audiences totaling 100,000 yearly since 1997. Oscar and Grammy nominated IMPACT reaches out to millions in television appearances on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox television shows, HBO’s film “Disappearing Acts” and the Academy Awards performing the Oscar nominated song “Raise It Up” from the movie “August Rush” starring Robin Williams. Rivers also serves as the chair of the Harlem Arts Alliance, first vice president of Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce and executive producer of the world renowned Harlem Week.

The celebration will feature performances from Daniel Beaty, Impact Repertory Theater, Chuck Jackson, and Valerie Simpson.

Founded by Woodie King, Jr. in 1970, New Federal Theatre (NFT) has gone on to international acclaim. NFT has provided emerging playwrights with the opportunity to have their works produced; it has brought minority actors, directors and designers to national attention and sponsored numerous ethnic theater groups and events. Under Woodie King, Jr.'s stewardship, NFT presented over 280 productions in the last four decades including: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, What the Winesellers Buy, Reggae, The Taking of Miss Janie and The Dance and The Railroad. His directorial credits are extensive and include work in film as well as in theater.

He has directed at the most prominent theaters across the country and has been the recipient of numerous awards from AUDELCO, The NAACP, Drama Critics Circle and an Obie Award for Sustained Achievement.

Tickets from $100 to $300 (including pre-event reception) may be purchased by calling New Federal Theatre at 212/353-1176 or by email at newfederal@aol.com

 

 

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