Theatre Communications Group Announces Entertainment for 2020 Gala: Our Stories To Include Performances from A Strange Loop and Soft Power
Gala to Honor National Black Theatre Festival and David Henry Hwang
New York, NY – Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, is pleased to share the entertainment and performer list for the 2020 TCG Gala: Our Stories, which will be held on Monday, February 3, 2020 at The Edison Ballroom, 240 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036. The Gala will honor North Carolina Black Repertory Company’s National Black Theatre Festival, based in Winston-Salem; playwright David Henry Hwang; and TCG’s arts advocacy at the federal level. The evening will include performances from A Strange Loop and Soft Power, and feature Billy Bustamante, James Jackson, Jr., and Alyse Alan Louis.
The performances will begin with James Jackson, Jr. performing “Memory Song” from A Strange Loop, written by Michael R. Jackson and directed by Stephen Brackett. Later in the evening, playwright Nambi E. Kelley will honor North Carolina Black Repertory Company’s National Black Theatre Festival, where her new play, Phenomenal Maya (working title), will open in May 2020. Kelley will read Dr. Maya Angelou’s manifesto for the National Black Theatre Festival, which was delivered by Angelou at the inaugural Festival in 1989. She will then invite Steven C. Byrd to honor the Festival, represented by NBTF artistic director Jackie Alexander and board president Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin.
The performances will continue with a song from Soft Power, written by Hwang, with music and additional lyrics by Jeanine Tesori, and directed by Leigh Silverman. The scene will be introduced by Silverman and feature performances from Alyse Alan Louis and Billy Bustamante. Called “thrilling, moving, and revolutionary,” by Variety, Soft Power had its New York City premiere at The Public Theater in New York City in September of 2019. Following the song, the artistic director of The Public, Oskar Eustis, will honor Hwang.
“It’s always wonderful to connect with friends old and new, to lift up the remarkable work of our honorees, and raise important funds for TCG” said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. “We’re also grateful to be able to feature scenes from these two heralded productions of musicals that premiered in TCG member theatres. A 6:00pm cocktail reception will be followed by entertainment and a seated dinner beginning at 7:00pm. To learn more about the 2020 TCG Gala, and the programming it supports, visit TCG.org/Events/Gala or email Gala@tcg.org. Please email Corinna Schulenburg at firstname.lastname@example.org for press reservations. To purchase tickets, go to www.TCGgala.org.
Billy Bustamante is a NYC-based performer, director, and photographer. Broadway credits include Miss Saigon (Engineer understudy), The King And I (Lun Tha understudy). NYC/ Regional credits: Soft Power and Here Lies Love at the Public Theatre, Ahmanson Theatre, Arena Stage, Old Globe, Paper Mill Playhouse, Sacramento Music Circus, Walnut Street Theatre, San Jose Rep, North Shore M.T., Pan Asian Rep, Prospect Theatre Company and The Arden Theatre Company. Billy recently directed the Off-Broadway revivals of The Adding Machine and LaChiusa’s The Wild Party. Other directing/choreography credits include Arden Theatre, Virginia Stage Company, Goodspeed, Lincoln Center, NAAP, TUTS, Merry-Go-Round, and CFRT. He is co-founder of Broadway Barkada and on the teaching faculty at Jen Waldman Studio. Billy is passionately committed to the development of new works and new artists. www.BillyBustamante.com INSTA: @BillyBCreative
James Jackson, Jr.’s Off-Broadway credits include A Strange Loop (Playwrights Horizons). Off-Broadway/Solo: The Black-Ups (Joe’s Pub, Feinstein’s/54 Below, Green Room 42, DROM, The Duplex, A.R.T.’s Club Oberon, Lyric Theatre LA), Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Curator of “The Living Room” at Mana Contemporary Museum in Jersey City. Select Regional: Dreamgirls (Massasoit - DASH Award), Showboat (NSMT), Henri Gabler (Exigent), The Wild Party (SpeakEasy). National Tour: Whistle Down The Wind. Most recently, he’s been blocked on Twitter by Kirstie Alley. www.TheJamesJacksonJr.com.
Nambi E. Kelley is an award-winning playwright and actress, Kelley has performed on stages across the world and on television. Nambi most recently served in residence at New Victory Theatre and as a Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow. She has penned plays for Steppenwolf, Goodman Theatre, Lincoln Center (Director's Fest), and internationally. Former playwright in residence at the National Black Theatre (I Am Soul Residency 2017) and Goodman Theatre (Playwrights Unit 2012). Awards include: The Prince Prize 2019 ($25,000), Writers Alliance Grant 2018-19 (Dramatists Guild Foundation, $5000), the Francesca Primus Award 2015, 2018 (finalist), and The Kevin Spacey Foundation Award (finalist). Currently working on an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Jazz, a play based on the life of Stokely Carmichael (Prince Prize), and a rolling world premiere of a play based on the life of Dr. Maya Angelou. Nambi is a staff writer on Showtime's The Chi and is working on several commissions for the stage, and is in development with projects for television/film. www.nambikelley.com
Alyse Alan Louis has been seen recently as Zoe and Hillary in David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori's Soft Power (The Public Theater/Dir: Leigh Silverman). Broadway: Amélie, Disaster, Mamma Mia. Off Broadway: TEETH (NAMT); A New Brain (Encores! Off-Center); The Civilians Pretty Filthy (Abrons). Regional: Soft Power (CTG and Curran); Fall Springs (Barrington Stage Company); Amélie (Berkeley Rep and CTG); The Rocky Horror Show (Bucks County Playhouse). Pop! Who Shot Andy Warhol? (City Theatre PA). Original Cast Recordings: Soft Power (upcoming), Amélie, A New Brain, Pretty Filthy.
TCG is the primary advocate for the not-for-profit professional theatre in the United States. TCG represents the theatre field both in Washington, DC, and nationally, to provide timely information for theatres and theatre artists on federal legislation, regulations, and other significant government opportunities and issues. TCG focuses its advocacy in five major areas: 1) increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts; 2) increased funding for arts education within the U.S. Department of Education; 3) favorable tax treatment of not-for-profit arts organizations and charitable contributions; 4) working toward improved cultural exchange by improving visa processing for artists from abroad and increasing funding and 5) White Space – protecting wireless microphones from interference.
The National Black Theatre Festival ® (NBTF) is a program of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NC Black Rep).Presented every odd numbered year, the festival hosts upwards of 120 performances, attracts upwards of 65,000 visitors to Winston-Salem, and has contributed over $230 million dollars to the Winston-Salem economy since its inception in 1989. Founded in 1979 by Larry Leon Hamlin, NC Black Rep was the first professional Black theatre company in North Carolina. NC Black Rep's mission is to engage, enrich, and entertain with innovative programming that resonates across the community and challenges social perceptions. The Company is universally recognized for its artistic and administrative achievements and its international outreach program, the NBTF.
David Henry Hwang’s stage work includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Kung Fu, Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan. Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner, and a two-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is also the most-produced living American opera librettist, whose works have been honored with two Grammy Awards. He co-wrote the Gold Record Solo with the late pop icon Prince, and worked for four seasons as a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair. Hwang serves on the Board of the Lark Play Development Center, as Head of Playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts, and as Chair of the American Theatre Wing. M. Butterfly recently returned to Broadway in a revival directed by Julie Taymor, which marked his eighth Broadway production. East West Players has named its mainstage the David Henry Hwang Theatre and recent honors include his 2018 induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Hwang was a Residency 1 playwright from 2012-14 at New York's Signature Theatre. His newest work, Soft Power, a collaboration with composer Jeanine Tesori, premiered in May 2018 at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles where it won 6 Ovation Awards, including Best New Production, and enjoyed a successful run in Fall 2019 at The Public Theater.
TCG’s annual Our Stories Gala supports vital programs and services for the theatre community. The 2019 Gala honored arts philanthropist and Chairman Emerita, Ingram Industries Inc. Martha R. Ingram; Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner; and Broadway press agent and President of DKC/O&M Rick Miramontez. That evening’s programming, directed by Tony Award-winner Michael Mayer, included special performances from Eva Maria Noblezada and Patrick Page (Hadestown), Ali Stroker (Oklahoma!), Beth Malone and Nico Muhly. Past honorees at the TCG annual gala—now in its eighth year— include actor Brian Dennehy, director Kenny Leon, playwright Lynn Nottage, actress and playwright Danai Gurira, theatrical producers Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey, set designer Ming Cho Lee, lighting designer Jules Fisher, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Vilcek Foundation, producers Ruth and Stephen Hendel, Judith O. Rubin, and the creators of War Paint (Scott Frankel, Michael Greif, Michael Korie, and Doug Wright).
Theatre Communications Group (TCG) exists to strengthen, nurture, and promote professional theatre in the U.S. and globally. Since its founding in 1961, TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to over 700 Member Theatres and affiliate organizations and nearly 10,000 Individual Members. Through its Core Values of Activism, Artistry, Diversity, and Global Citizenship, TCG advances a better world for theatre and a better world because of theatre. TCG offers its members networking and knowledge-building opportunities through research, communications, and events, including the annual TCG National Conference, one of the largest nationwide gatherings of theatre people; awards grants and scholarships, approximately $2 million per year, to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level; and through the Global Theater Initiative, TCG's partnership with the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, serves as the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute. TCG is North America’s largest independent trade publisher of dramatic literature, with 17 Pulitzer Prizes for Drama on the TCG booklist. It also publishes the award-winning American Theatre magazine and ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts. In all of its endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of its Member Theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field, and promote a larger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the theatre.www.tcg.org.