Renowned Black Theater Unearths Lost Plays and Newly Found Playwrights

June 30, 2009.  In the early 80’s, Negro Ensemble Company, the second oldest black theater company in the world, closed its doors temporarily, leaving boxes of scripts and memorabilia unaccounted for.  Now, those lost archives have been re-discovered at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and excerpts from these works will be returned to the stage. NEC Repertory presents “LOST AND FOUND: NEC Classic Plays and Emerging Playwrights” on  July 10 at 8pm at Where Eagles Dare Theatre in New York, NY.

What an important historic find!”.says Marie McKinney, NEC Repertory Acting instructor.  “A new generation of actors get access to this extraordinary material.” In addition, emerging playwrights Quester Hannah and Barbara Asare-Bediako premiere scenes from their original works for veteran writers Laurence Holder and Leslie Lee, who are honored that night. Continuing the forty-two year traditions of NEC Rep, LOST AND FOUND will present emerging actors who have completed NEC’s rigorous training program, which combines solid groundwork in character technique, script analysis and voice production with ethnic culture.  “We use the time-honored work of masters such as Michael Chekhov and Stella Adler as a foundation and bring it into an African American cultural context,” says McKinney.”  According to Charles Weldon, NEC’s Artistic Director, “We get calls all the times from actors who have graduated from big schools who are hungry for information about their own culture.”

LOST AND FOUND boasts scenes from brilliant vintage plays by unknown playwrights, and famed writers like Alice Childress and Ed Bullins, representing a unique portfolio of African American life  The program features Gail Davis’ The Night of the Wizard, Daniel W. Owens’ La Grima del Diallo, Trevor Rhone’s Two Can Play, Gus Edwards’ Weep Not For Me, Laurence Holder’s Monk ‘n’ Bud, Leslie Lee’s Sundown Names and Night-Gone Things. New plays include Quester Hannah’s My Brother’s Keeper, and Barbara Asare-Bediako’s stirring one-person show, sharing the horrors of working in hospitals where medical experimentation on the poor takes place and her play exposing Ma Rainey’s seduction of Lillian in Secret Mist of Blue .

Quester Hannah,  Barbara Asare-Bediako, Douglas O. Walker, Ginger Spencer, Ed Robinson, Cassandra Johnson, Jillian Walker, Malikia Causey, Jeanette Bookhard, and Ryan Johnson are among the performers on the July 10 production.

About Negro Ensemble Company:

The Negro Ensemble Company and NEC Training Program were first started by Robert Hooks, Douglas Turner Ward and Gerald Krone in 1967. Robert Hooks broke down the walls of his apartment and taught acting to a young Hattie Winston. Rosalind Cash, Frances Foster, Graham Brown and Bill Jay, among the original company members. This Pultizer Prize-winning company, with 200 productions on its roster, boasts a long list of notable alumni, such as Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, Adolf Caesar,  Phylicia Rashad, Samuel L Jackson, Roscoe Lee Brown, and many more. NEC  looks forward to another extended run of Sundown Names and Night-Gone Things by Leslie Lee with brilliant ensemble work   NEC has received 11 Audelco Award Nominations for its plays in the year. The company awarded $1000 to emerging playwright, Antoinette Nwandu, this spring at Tisch NYU.  The current NEC REP program is successfully fostering a new generation of performing artists and writers, who have, in the last year, played on HBO’s The Wire, Law and Order, NEC’s Zooman, Manhattan Theatre Club, Theatre Row, NY Comedy Club, New Heritage Theater, La Mama, Hip Hop Monologues, Commercials and 3 NEC REP members are invited participants of Harvard’s  Advanced Training Program: Moscow.

Award winning, NEC resident playwright, Leslie Lee continues momentum with The Emerging and Classic Playwrights Series in the fall ,also at Where Eagles Dare Theatre. Charles Weldon became the current Artistic Director 5 years ago and stars in August Wilson’s Radio Golf. Charles started performing with NEC in 1970 and now returns as an alumnus of the NEC Repertory Company and active board member, expanding its fiscal standing and ushering the company into the new millennium.

NEC REP is holding auditions and interviews for its ongoing classes for professional actor’s and playwrights. Call 212 582 5860 or email for audition appointment, and semi-private ongoing classes.