NEW YORK — On Saturdays from February 13 to 27, 2021 New York’s New Federal Theatre (NFT) will present “New Federal Theatre Celebrates Black History Month,” a retrospective readings series in which three rarely-done yet noteworthy plays, all previously produced by NFT, will be recreated by savvy actors and directors. These plays illuminate burning issues of their time and are newly instructive today.
The readings will be free and accessible from NFT’s website, newfederaltheatre.com. Donations will be gratefully accepted.
February 13 @ 7:00 PM (EST), streaming until February 15 @ midnight.
“When the Chickens Come Home to Roost” by Laurence Holder, directed by Ralph McCain
Featuring Allie Woods as Elijah Muhammad and Lawrence Winslow as Malcolm X.
The play centers on the relationship between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad – the beating heart of the Black Muslim movement. Its title is a reference to Malcolm X’s notorious comment in the wake of JFK’s assassination. The comment caused him to be censored by his leader, Elijah Muhammad causing a rift between the Nation of Islam’s founder and his star disciple. New Federal Theatre’s 1981 premiere production starred Kirk Kirksey as Elijah Muhammad and Denzel Washington as Malcolm X.
February 20 @ 7:00 PM; February 21 @ 7:00 PM and February 22 @ 7:00 PM (EST)
“The Meeting” by Jeff Stetson, directed by Ajene D. Washington
Featuring: Joseph L. Edwards as Dr. Martin Luther King, Tyler Fauntleroy as Resheed, Beethovan Oden as Malcolm X.
“The Meeting,” whose premiere was presented by NFT in 1987, is an imaginary encounter between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in 1965 in a hotel in Harlem. Differing in their philosophies but alike in their mutual respect, the two men debate their varying approaches to the same grave social problems. Both are prepared to die for their beliefs but neither is aware of how soon assassins’ bullets await them. The play was televised on American Playhouse in 1989.
February 27 @ 7:00 PM (EST), streaming until March 1 @ midnight (EST)
“Widows” by Mfundi Vundla, director TBA
This drama, originally presented by NFT in 1981, is about the struggle of three African women to overcome oppressive conditions in South Africa.