Frankie Faison, Woodie King, Jr., Pauletta Pearson Wahington, E. Roger Mitchell and Voza Rivers at Aaron Davis Hall, City College of New York.
Photo by Amun

On Friday, Feb. 7, 2014 Woody King, Jr.’s National Black Touring Circuit in conjunction with Voza Rivers/New Heritage Theater Group kicked off the 2014 Black History Month Play Festival with a press conference and star studded reading of Ossie Davis’ play, “The People of Clarendon County” at Aaron Davis Hall, City College of New York.

The play reading was the centerpiece of the event. It was a one-time reading by Pauletta Pearson Washington, Frankie Faison and E. Roger Mitchell, directed by Ajene D. Washington. This seminal play was first performed in 1955 with the all-star cast of: the playwright, actor and director, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier.

“The People of Clarendon County” was written by Ossie Davis and focuses on basis of “Brown vs. the Board of Education.” The play was written in the 1950s and explores the true story of how a group of Black citizens in a South Carolina town were actually the first to go after the government about the constitutionality of the “separate and unequal” practice in public schools. Their case predates “Brown vs. the Board of Education.”

Pauletta Pearson Washington, singer-actress has performed on Broadway and in film. She is married to actor/director, Denzel Washington. Frankie Faison is known for his comedy and dramatic roles on screen and on Broadway, and for his Tony and Drama Desk nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the August Wilson play, “Fences.” E. Roger Mitchell has been a featured actor in film and television. Ajene D. Washington is an award winning director, playwright and set designer. The Bronx Council on the Arts recently presented him with the BRIO Award in playwriting.

From Feb. 7 to March 2, 2014 the National Black Touring Circuit’s Black History Month Play Festival will hold poetry, music and drama performances in Harlem that celebrate the acclaimed poet Amiri Baraka, legendary singer, Billie Holiday, the Great Divas of Gospel and Ossie Davis’ renowned play “The People of Clarendon County.” On February 8th, “A Tribute in Memory of Amiri Baraka” Harlem homage to the late Amiri Baraka, the legendary author, poet, playwright and scholar was held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. It was excellent and included: Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Lamount Dixon, Craig Harris Group, Umar Bin Hassan, Layding Lumumba Kaliba, Haki R. Madhunbuti, Narubi Selah, Bill Harris, Quincy Troupe, Dwight West and Blu Ark and Ras Baraka performing “Black Fire” a poem that he wrote for his father’s (Amiri Baraka) eulogy. “Great Divas of Gospel” starring: Lady Peachena, Debbie Malone, Sargeant, Betty Cook, Delores Morales & others will be performed Saturday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 23 at 3:00 p.m. at New York Academy of Medicine, 103rd Street and Fifth Avenue, “Yesterdays,” an evening with Billie Holiday by Reenie Upchurch, starring Vanessa Rubin, directed by Woodie King, Jr. will be performed Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 2 at 4:00 p.m. at National Black Theater, 2031 Fifth Avenue. For ticket for: “Great Divas of Gospel” and “Yesterdays” visit: www.ticketcentral.com or call: 212-279-4200.

The Black History Month Play Festival is produced by Woodie King, Jr., the producer/director of the National Black touring Circuit and Kim Weston Moran, associate producer.

© Amun/Ankhra House, Ltd.

Pauletta Pearson Washington reads during “The People of Clarendon County” play at Aaron Davis Hall, City College of New York.
Photo by Amun

More from Around NYC