The Atlanta Black Theatre Festival is bringing the best in black theatre to Atlanta each fall. The Festival runs Oct. 4-7 and will bring 40 plays in four days to the Loews Atlanta Hotel and Woodruff Art Center at the 14th Street Playhouse complex.
Rain Pryor will open the festival with a Red Carpet premiere of her New York hit stage play, "Fried Chicken & Latkes," at 8 p.m., Oct. 4 at the Woodruff Art Center.
“I am honored,” Pryor said, “This is a powerful opportunity for us to explore all levels of theatre.”
“It’s a Theatre Lover's Paradise,” agreed Toni Simmons Henson, the founder and executive director of the Festival. The Columbus Day weekend celebration is expected to draw more than 5,000 theatre lovers and 200 performers from all over world to perform.
The Festival is great for aspiring young people, trying to become accomplished in theatre, Pryor said. To succeed, she said, “you must be honest with yourself about what your talents are. You must pursue your dream and be authentic.”
Pryor comes to the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival from her own standup comedy tour and serving as the artistic director for a stage production called WELL by Lisa Kron.
“I am constantly creating it never stops,” Pryor said, adding that her father’s legendary fame has influenced her to work to “just to keep it real. Be the truth.”
Acclaim for Pryor’s work also includes her nomination as best female solo performer and best playwright for the 2011 D.C. Black Theatre Festival, and the 2008 Marin Services For Women Founders Award. Rain Pryor has produced and directed The Exonerated, Colorism, WELL, OUT. She is the Artistic Director for the Strand Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland.
At the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, Pryor will also direct a play called "Diary of a MILF: Mother I Love to Follow,” starring acclaimed comedian, Meshelle Shields.
Shields is an acclaimed Stand up comedian who has produced shows dedicated to raising the self esteem of young urban girls.
“Meshelle is The Indie Mom of Comedy,” Pryor said, adding, she “is a dynamic powerful Black woman, who is juggling career and motherhood. Her piece is about all the hats some women wear and that you ain't gonna get it perfect. She is a brilliant comedian!”
About The Atlanta Black Theatre and Founder Toni Simmons Henson:
Henson’s passion for theater stems from her childhood in the backyard of Broadway in New Jersey, when she and her sister Wanda wrote, directed and produced popular plays.
Henson graduated from Howard and New York Universities, married, had four children when, in 2004, her penchant for acting re-emerged. Henson, burst on the scene as executive director of the Princeton Territory, the largest acting academy in the world, the Helen O'Grady Acting Academy (or Drama Kids in the U.S. In a few years, she’d produced more than 80 plays and presentations and trained more than 750 kids in acting and public speaking, and attracted national publicity in Entrepreneur Magazine and the graced the cover of the Princeton Packet Weekend Magazine.
In 2007, Henson moved to Atlanta and founded Micah 6:8 Media, LLC, produced and directed two hit stage plays: Once Upon a Dream by Khristi Adams and Big Girls Gotta Eat, Too! by Melissa Blackmon & Wanda Simmons. Henson noticed an opportunity to create a platform for black theatre. “Atlanta area is home to the second largest population of African-Americans in the country and has the fastest growing film industry south of Hollywood,” Henson said. “The Atlanta Black Theatre Festival was born. Our art is our history, so I consider this my mandate and that’s a serious responsibility."
Please see the Festival’s website at http://www.atlantablacktheatrefestival.org for more information.
Toni Simmons Henson, Founder and Executive Director
Atlanta Black Theatre Festival
PO Box 76
Snellville, GA 30078