"Gertrude Hadley Jeanette – Thespian of 70 Years”

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[Black Theater]

The Coalition of Theatres of Color (CTC) gave a tribute to Gertrude Hadley Jeanette, a 96 year old thespian and producer of plays, at the Dwyer Cultural Center in Harlem on March 28, 2011. “I loved the theatre. When I had some spare time, I would go over and visit with Langston Hughes. Langston taught us how to move from feeling Blue to creating our art,” Ms. Jeanette proudly said.

Congressman Charles Rangel’s office presented Ms. Jeanette with a proclamation for her contributions to the cultural life of Harlem. Ruby Dee, the famed actress from Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” offered proclamation and a verbal tribute to Ms. Jeanette, and Dee spoke about the educational and entertaining tradition of Black culture. “ You embody the finest in theatre,” Dee proclaimed.

In 1979, Ms. Jeanette started her own theatre company which was called the H. A. D. L. E. Y. Players. “I was called a good actress, but I was sometimes nervous on stage. I could produce and help develop acting talent, however,” Ms. Jeanette explained. Her theatrical productions were well attended over the years. For example, one could frequently see her financials supporters, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee at the plays.

As a result of her theater, actors, directors, and playwrights had an opportunity to hone their theatrical skills. Woody King, the chair of CTC, said, “Ms. Jeannette represents over 70 years of theatre in New York as an actor, a playwright, director and producer. She’s done it all !”

Finally, to deal with the current budget crisis situations, Ms. Jeanette joined The Coalition of Theatres of Color (CTC) which is a non-profit community of theatre arts groups in the state of New York. Also, Ms. Jeanette has also been supportive of her friend, Garland Thompson, founder of The Frank Silvera Writer’s Workshop of which this writer is a member. The FSWW has held Monday night meetings at the Center where there are stage readings of original plays by members of The FSWW.

Another long time friend, Voza Rivers, who is the founder of the Dwyer Cultural Center, invited all visitors back to support the cultural programs at his center on St. Nicholas and W. 123rd street. Black theatre still strives in Harlem !

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