Celebrating 47 years of keeping soul alive in Harlem, visionary Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre (NBT) will host the eighth annual TEER Spirit Awards Gala on Thursday, June 18. The NBT is the oldest continuously operated black theater in New York and one of the oldest organizations led by a woman of color in the United States. The date is significant because it marks NBT National Founders Day, and what would have been her 78th birthday.
“This year we honor these extraordinary individuals who exemplify the spirit and legacy of service for which Dr. Teer was renowned,” said Sade Lythcott, CEO of NBT. “Our organization is celebrating the work these individuals do day in and day out to enrich New York City and the nation.”
Hosted by multiple-award-winning actor Russell G. Jones (“Ruined,” “Traffic”), this years honorees include renowned dancer, actress and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, Spelman College President-Elect Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, and acclaimed artistic director and Order of the British Empire recipient Kwame Kwei-Armah (Baltimore’s Center Stage). Each of the honorees will receive a beautifully crafted award, designed by visual Mariona Lloreta for the event.
In addition to the awards ceremony and dinner, attendees will be treated to a special theatrical selection from the one-woman show “Fried Chicken & Latkes,” written and performed by Rain Pryor. “Fried Chicken & Latkes”, which previews at NBT on June 2, and runs from June 11 through June 28, is the actress-writer-comedian’s funny take on her mixed-race heritage and growing up the daughter of one of the world’s most beloved and iconic funny men, comic genius Richard Pryor.
Founded in 1968 and expanded in 1983, the 64,000-square-foot building on 125th and Fifth Avenue (which would come to be renamed “National Black Theatre Way” by local law in 1994), exist as a monument to Dr. Teer’s vision to focus on “the healing art of black theatre as an instrument for wholeness in urban communities where entrepreneurial artists of African descent live and work.”
Tickets for the event, which will be held in NBT’s historical landmark home in Harlem, are $150 per person and $1,500 for a table of 10. Tickets can be purchased online at www.nationalblacktheatre.org, by calling NBT directly at (212) 722- 3800, or at NBT’s Box Office from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.