About NEC

Auditions for The NEC Training Program:

Please send request, picture and resume and contact information necartz@gmail.com

Doug Krone Hooks


America’s Legendary Black Theater

The Negro Ensemble Company is a New York City-based theater company. Established in 1967 by playwright Douglas Turner Ward, producer/actor Robert Hooks, and theater manager Gerald Krone, the company focuses on themes in “black life“.

In 2005, the ensemble was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. [1] [2]

See Current News About Negro Ensemble Company and List of Notable Alumni below. You may have remembrances about NEC which will help us to expand accounts of it’s long history. You may add them at the bottom of this page in “comments”.

The Historic Negro Ensemble Companywill present :

January 12 – January 29, 2012

by Cate Ryan
Directed by Charles Weldon and Two new workshops added for January 2012. Beginning and Advanced Playwriting classes will be taught by NEC Executive Director and award-winning playwright, Leslie Lee. http://www.necinc.org

celebrated its repertoire of work ranging from The First Breeze of Summer by Leslie Lee, Home by Samm-Art Williams, and Zooman and the Sign by Charles Fuller this 2008-2009 Season. The company’s productions of WEBEIME by Layton Gray and First Breeze of Summer with Leslie Uggams won several Audelco Awards and the current season is produced in collaboration with The Signature Theatre, Castillo Theater and New Federal Theater.

NEC’s Newest Production

Douglas TW Book Cover

Douglas Turner Ward Book: Advice to a Young Black Actor

Sun Down Names and By Gone Things by Leslie Lee begins mid-May at Castillo Theater.  Company founder Douglas Turner Ward recently awarded Antoinette Nwandu the first Leslie Lee Award for Emerging Playwrights for her play Flat Sam at NYU/ Tisch School of the Arts. Negro Ensemble Company offices are located at 303 West 42 Street Suite 501, NYC.


Charles Weldon and S. Epatha Merkerson in "Birdie Blue"

Charles Weldon and S. Epatha Merkerson in “Birdie Blue”

The company’s Artistic Director is Charles Weldon, actor of Soldier’s Play, Radio Golf and many others plays and films. Charles Weldon is a long time alum of NEC since the 70’s. NEC’s Executive Director is Frieda Nerangis; Office Manager, Beverly Summers, Anthony Jones; Design and Graphics, Kimberlyn Crawford and Tim Gamory ,webmaster for http://www.necinc.org .  Alum of NEC,  Marie McKinney is author of http://www.necartz.com and Acting Instructor and founder of NEC Arts-in-Ed and NEC Rep re-launch. The company’s combination professional theater group and training program located at St. Mark’s Place, started (with funds from the Ford Foundation) in 1967 , when Robert Hooks knocked down the walls of his village apartment to teach young actors like Hattie Winston. Original members of the Resident Company in 1968 were: Frances Foster, Rosalyn Cash, William Jay, Arthur French, Esther Rolle, Clarice Taylor, Allie Woods, Hattie Winston, Anita Wilson, Mari Toussaint, Samuel Blue, Jr, Damon Brazwell, Norman Bush and Julius Harris; production stage manager, Edmond Cambridge and stage manager, James S. Lucas. Original Training Program Faculty were: John Blair, Lonnie Elder, Margaret Harris, Luther James, Louis Johnson, Kristin Linklater, Ron Mack, Paul Mann, Lloyd Richards, Michael A. Scultz, Charles Vincent; Assistants: Steve Carter, Robbie McCauley, Cleo Quitman, Gloria Schultz. By 1969, the company had won the Drama Desk Award, Veron Rice Award, Lambda Kappa Mu Citation, Brandeis University Creative Arts Award and the Tony Award. Since then the Theater moved to Theatre 4 on 55th St between 9th and 10 Avenues in NYC with many acclaimed alumni, like Angela Bassett, Keith David, Adolf Caesar, Graham Brown, Samuel L Jackson, Delroy Landau, Carol Maillard, Michelle Shay, L. Scott Caldwell, Phyllicia Rashad, Barbara Montgomery, Ching Valdez, Count Stovall,

frican singer/activist Miriam Makeba performs, while dancer/costume designer at NEC Judy Dearing interprets, on an episode of Soul! from 1972

African singer/activist Miriam Makeba performs, while dancer/costume designer at NEC Judy Dearing interprets, on an episode of Soul! from 1972

Charles Weldon, Malik Yoba, Lawrence Fishburn, Lou Gossett, Jr., designers: Judy Dearing, Myrna Collie Lee, Charles McClennahan, Shirley Pendergast,  Ves Weaver, Lisa Watson, Jesse Wooden, Dwight Cook.

Negro Ensemble Company’s Training Program and Monthly Meets for Arts Professionals:

The Negro Ensemble Company Training Program and Monthly Meets  empower professional actors to meet, partner, create, build arts and business skills and perform on an on going basis. NEC’s award winning instructors: Leslie Lee, Erik Kilpatrick, Marie McKinney, Laurence Holder and other guests provide training in acting, play writing, traditional arts and culture, and business skills. Techniques based on traditional African,  Latin and Native folk arts, the techniques of Bea Richards, Philip Meister’s National Shakespeare Company Conservatory techniques: Joan Evans, Jim Tripp, Peter Lobdell(Michael Chekhov techniques), Mario Silletti, Robert Perillo( Cicely Berry Voice Production and Articulation), Stanislavsky methods are used to expand the professional actor’s abilities in character development, voice production and articulation, dramaturgy, charles as hedlleyperiod work, dialects, classic world literature, and improvisation. Like the original NEC Training program, NEC Rep explores basic elements of African, Native and Latin Dance and music, martial arts. Rep members are encouraged to do weekly field research exploring the African’s role in world history through field trips to collect samples of dialects and living culture in action, also fact finding at research libraries and museums. Their finds are shared with the group to give the actors a variety of tools to powerfully express their unique voice.

leslie_lee head shotLeslie Lee: Award Winning Playwright in residence

The Classic Play Readings and NEC Arts-in-Ed Program

Leslie Lee’s The Classic Play Readings, play writing workshops and NEC Rep programs are presented regularly. NEC’s Arts-in-Education program features residencies facilitated by professional performers for elementary, middle and high school students in the NYC public school system. 10-20 week Residencies are custom designed to support the school’s curriculum, through hands-on participation in artistic, literary and technical skills. Students created TV productions including original music, writing and choreography were aired on MNN cable network, live performances, newsletters and middle school students were included in on-the job training. NEC’s Traveling Theater brings quality clasic and contemporary productions to schools and venues. Some offerings include: Subway by Darsel Brittingham and Otter, for younger audiences.


The website http://www.necartz.com was started in August 2008 to connect professional performing artists with resources to do produce their work as creative entrepreneurs. NEC’s primary wensite is http://www.necinc.org containing information about the company’s programs, shows, history and picture gallery.  http://www.necartz.com maintains frequent updates of information on grants and opportunities, artist service organizations, events, workshops, articles, social networking and other resources.  Internships and on the job training are available at the Negro Ensemble Company offices.

Quote from Douglas Turner Ward in the New York Times August 14, 1966:

“If any hope, outside of chance individual fortune, exists for Negro playwrights as a group – or, for that matter, Negro actors and other theater craftsmen – the most immediate, pressing, practical absolutely minimally essential active first step is the development of a permanent Negro company of at least off-Broadway size and dimension.Not in the future, but now.

“A theater evolving not out of negative need, but positive potential; better equipped to employ existing talents and spur the development of future ones. A theater whose justification is not the gap it fills, but the achievement it aspires toward – no less high than any other comparable theater company of present of past world fame.

“A theater concentrating primarily on themes of Negro life, but also resilient enough to incorporate and interpret the best of world drama – whatever the source. A theater of permanence, continuity, providing the necessary home-base for the Negro artist to launch a campaign to win his ignored brothers and sisters as constant witnesses to his endeavors…so might the Negro, a most potential agent of vitality infuse life into the moribund corpus of American theater.”

External links

Creative Entrepreneurs! Arts Grants, Events, Resources

16 02 2009

Creative Entrepreneurs! Performing and Visual Artists You have support in getting your projects done!

A network of partners, service organizations, cultural resources and outlets, grants and organizations that will help you!

African, Latin, Native, Asian American… Events!

Become a http://www.necartz.com subscriber or just write http://www.necartz.com on your wall or bulletin board!

Notable Alumni