NEC Rep: Renowned Black Theatre Honors Playwrights to Over-Capacity Crowds

Marie McKinney presents Laurence Holder with plaque, cast of NEC Rep Lost and Found: Classic Plays and Emerging Playwrights

l to r: Jeanette Bookhard, Laurence Holder winner NEC Rep Award for "Excellence and Prolific Commitment", Marie McKinney, Ginger Spencer, Barbara Asare-Bediako

July 10, 2009. An over-capacity crowd bombarded Negro Ensemble Company Repertory’s Lost and Found, Friday. .From 1967 to the 90’s, Negro Ensemble Company, the second oldest black theater company in the world, was the best place for black playwrights to sent their plays for production. When the company closed temporarily, in the 80’s, boxes of scripts and memorabilia unaccounted for. Excerpts from six of the hundreds of archived works re-discovered at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture returned to the stage. New plays and original


Actor/ Writer :My Brother's Keeper NEC Rep member

works by Actor/Writers, Barbara Asare-Bediako and Actor/Writer/Rapper, Quester Hannah; Ryan Johnson, actor/comic and singer/songwriter, heart throb, Jillian Walker ignited the stage . “Excelllence and Prolific writing for the Theatre.” read NEC Rep citations awarded vereran writers, Laurence Holder and Leslie Lee. An interview followed. NEC Repertory presented “LOST AND FOUND: NEC Honors Classic Plays and Emerging Playwrights” on  July 10 at 8pm at Where Eagles Dare Theatre in New York, NY.

“Astounding work!..I see  a young Denzel, Sam Jackson, L Scott Caldwell, Frances Foster on this stage….Judi Ann Mason passed. A huge loss, and yet these new artists give us hope for Black Theatre’s future.” NEC Repertory Acting instructor, Marie McKinney, says What an important historic find!A new generation of actors get access to this extraordinary, unknown material.” In addition, emerging playwrights Quester Hannah and Barbara Asare-Bediako premiered scenes from their original works for veteran writers, Laurence Holder and Leslie Lee, honored that night. Continuing the forty-two year traditions of NEC Rep, LOST AND FOUND continues to  support emerging actors who have completed NEC’s rigorous training program. NEC Rep 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.” Auditions are held by appt.  Contact

Charles Weldon, Leslie Lee and Laurence Holder

Charles Weldon lauds young playwrights and actors, honorees: Leslie Lee and Laurence Holder interviewed by Marie McKinney; and regretfully announces the passing of Judy Ann Mason

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 .

Barbara Asare Bediako Actor/Writer of One Woman Show "Removing the Mask" and "Secret Mist of Blue"

Barbara Asare Bediako Actor/Writer of One Woman Show "Removing the Mask" and "Secret Mist of Blue" NEC Rep member

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.

leslie_lee head shot

Leslie Lee Award Winning Writer Playwright in Residence/NEC Rep Instructor

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. Email for audition appointment, and semi-private ongoing classes. 212 862 4625