“Harlem Is … THEATER – 1821 to NOW”

Community Works NYC’s
Black Theater Exhibition at
The New York Public Library
for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center
Debuts its Newest Component:


The South African Connection
February 4 – May 1, 2015


Through memorabilia, photos, film and original artwork, learn about the theaters that bloomed and survived, the people who were driven to keep them vital, and the explosion of Black Theater productions that marked the 1960s and continue to this day. The message of the exhibition is strong: Black Theater plays a crucial and continuously vital role for Harlem, New York City, and the world.

As the exhibition moves to The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center,

it additionally explores the important collaboration in the 1980s between New Heritage Theatre Group and Lincoln Center Theater to bring South African playwrights and voices to New York. These productions exposed audiences to the realities of life under apartheid through new, brilliant stage experiences—among them Woza Albert! and Sarafina! At the time, it was considered audacious for Voza Rivers, Executive Producer of New Heritage Theatre Group in Harlem,  Bernard Gersten, then Executive Producer, and Greg Mosher, Artistic Director of Lincoln Center Theater to bring South African playwrights, including Mbongeni Ngema – who created Woza Albert!, Sarafina!, Asinamali, Township Fever – and the Woza Afrika Festival to New York. Commenting on the importance of this project, Mosher said, “One might imagine that the plays of Woza Afrika Festival and Sarafina! sprang from rage…but their work emerged from courageous hope.” New York theater-goers were mesmerized and flocked in droves to the presentations.

Planned are many special performances, conversations and symposia at the library and at partner sites including the Apollo Theater, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, City College Center for the Arts-Aaron Davis Hall. Community Works NYC continues to fulfill a promise it made 25 years ago to advance the arts as a bridge among New York’s diverse neighborhoods and cultures.

harlem is … THEATER honors

Faison Firehouse Theatre
George Faison, Co-Founder/Artistic Director
Tad Schnugg, Executive Director

Blackberry Productions
Stephanie Berry, Founder/Co-Artistic Director
John-Martin Green, Co-Artistic Director

Frederick Douglass Creative ArtsCenter
Ray Gaspard, President (former)

The H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players
Gertrude Jeannette, Founder/CEO

New Federal Theatre
National Black Touring Circuit
Woodie King, Jr., Founder/Producing Director

Harlem Theatre Company
James Pringle, Founder

National Black Theatre, Inc.
Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, Visionary Founder
Sade Lythcott, CEO

Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop
Garland Lee Thompson, Sr., Co-Founder/Executive Director (Deceased on November 18, 2014 -The Memorial: 11:00 AM St. James Presbyterian Church 409 W. 141st St. at St. Nicholas Avenue New York.)

Mama Foundation for the Arts
Vy Higginsen and Ken Wydro, Co-Writers, Co-Producers, Co-Directors

New Heritage Theatre Group
Voza Rivers, Founding Member/Executive Producer
Jamal Joseph, Executive Artistic Director

Take Wing and Soar Productions
Debra Ann Byrd, Founding/Producing Artistic Director

The Classical Theater of Harlem
Ty Jones, Producing Director

harlem is… Theater
African Grove Theatre
WPA Federal Theatre Project Harlem Unit
The Rose McClendon Players
American Negro Theater
New Heritage Theatre Group
New Lafayette Theatre




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