Woodie King, Jr., Founder and Producer of the New Federal Theater, and I have been invited by The Harlem Writers Guild and the New York Society Library to have a conversation on our fifty plus years of history in our respective theaters, the New Federal Theatre and New Heritage Theatre Group. Woodie and I will be sharing our knowledge of Black Theatre in communities of color throughout New York City and beyond. This one-time conversation will be moderated by Professor Michael Dinwiddie, playwright, composer and associate professor at NYUs Gallatin School.
The Harlem Writers Guild and the New York Society Library are proud to present a conversation between two African-American cultural icons, talking about their experiences in theatre, concert, and event production.
Woodie King, Jr. is an American Director and Producer of stage and screen, as well as the Founding Director of the New Federal Theatre in New York City. Since 1970 the New Federal Theatre has provided its community with a stage and collection of talented performers to express the voices of numerous African-American playwrights. The New Federal Theatre boasts nationally known playwrights such as Ron Milner (Checkmates), Ed Bullins (The Taking of Miss Janie), and Ntozake Shange (For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf), as well as actors including Jackée Harry, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad, Dick Anthony Williams, Glynn Turman, Taurean Blacque, Samuel L. Jackson, and Laurence Fishburne. Woodie King, Jr. has written extensively to document the history of Black Theater in America, as well as present the works of talented Black Artists. He is the author of 13 books including Black Drama Anthology, Black Poets and Prophets, and Black Short Story Anthology. After more than 50 years of producing and directing, Woodie King, Jr. received a Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre in 2021.
Voza Rivers is an award winning, international producer, co-producer of theater, film, music and live events. Viewed by millions, Rivers’ work as a theater producer, music executive, event producer, and documentary filmmaker has been presented in the United States, Japan, South Africa, Togo, Nigeria, Cuba, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
The Grammy-, Tony-, and Oscar-nominated Rivers has produced events and concerts featuring world-renowned artists. A partial listing includes Nancy Wilson, Nina Simone, Ruby Dee, Luther Vandross, James Brown, The Count Basie Orchestra, Ray Charles, Ashford and Simpson, Boy George, George Benson, Tito Puente, Lionel Hampton, Isaac Hayes, Little Jimmy Scott, Celia Cruz, Miriam Makeba, Kool and the Gang, Hugh Masekela, Boyz II Men, Tony Bennett, Anita Baker, Chuck Jackson, Max Roach, Gloria Lynne, Yolanda Adams, Mary J. Blige, Dionne Warwick, Manhattan Transfer, Toni Braxton, Jonathan Butler, Phyllis Hyman, Grover Washington, Jr., Al Jarreau, and Chaka Khan. Voza Rivers has served as Executive Editor, and has been featured in a number of publications and periodicals including Forever Harlem. He is the Executive Producer of more than 52 documentary films including Langston Hughes, Percy Sutton, The Savoy King and The Music that Changed America.
Michael Dinwiddie (moderator) is a playwright/composer whose works have been produced in New York, regional and educational theatre. An associate professor at NYU’s Gallatin School, he has served as playwright-in-residence at Michigan State University, Florida A&M University, St. Louis University, and La Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires, among others. His awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Playwriting and a Walt Disney Fellowship at Touchstone Pictures. In 2022 the Michael Dinwiddie Playwright Award was created by the Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC Inc.). Michael sits on the boards of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre, the August Wilson Society, and NewFest LGBTQ+ Film and Media. He is the editor of Holy Ground: An Anthology of Plays and Monologues from the National Black Theatre Festival, which was published by TCG in 2022. A member of the Dramatists Guild, ASCAP, BMI, and the Writers Guild of America, Michael is a past president of the Black Theatre Network.
This event is part of the Library's Black Literature Matters programming, generously supported by the Oak Foundation.