New Freedom Theatre is celebrating 54 years of excellence in arts education, professional productions and community engagement. We continued that tradition with the introduction of Guest Artistic Directors in 2014 and new artistic advisory board in preparation of 55th anniversary.
Ozzie Jones served in that position for one year. We then appointed Rajendra Ramoon Marahaj as Guest Artistic Director in 2015 and Artistic Director in 2016 through the 2017 season.
“Freedom showed that theater is not about bright lights and big budgets, but rather the stories through which we find the ability to discover ourselves.”–Philadelphia Weekly
New Freedom celebrated its 50th anniversary with a renovated facility, Barrymore Award winning programs and Barrymore Nominated productions. It now is planning its 55th anniversary during the 2020- 2021 season.
Freedom Theatre is on the bus routes 4 and 16 on North Broad Street
About Karl (Dice Raw) Jenkins
Karl Dice Raw Jenkins is a modern day phenomenon
With experience as Singer/Songwriter producer, actor and entrepreneur for over 20 years, Karl does it all and he’s extremely good at, it all. Now Karl brings his extraordinary talents to share with us here at New Freedom Theatre.
What’s important to Karl is sharing creatively, emotionally and economically. Karl has had many successful ventures over the two decades he’s spent entertaining hiphop fans across the world, and he attributes it all to a strict discipline, philosophy and a strong work ethic. Karl calls his life changing path to success “Staying in the Game” – a phrase his deceased mentor and longtime manager, Richard Nichols, would use on a daily basis. Karl preaches “Staying in The Game” as guide to success in all forms.
Karl has also developed a strong voice in the fight against mass incarceration, failed judicial system, corporate diversity, social justice. romance and finance.
His theatrical works include “The Last Jimmy” performed at New Freedom Theatre in 2014 and in 2018 “Box” the life story of Henry Box Brown and escaped slave who shipped himself to Philadelphia in a daring escape to freedom. This play has toured most recently in Miami, Florida to sold out houses. His latest plays are “The Narrative” and “The King of Love” which will be performed at New Freedom Theatre in June, 2019.
His recorded works include Reclaiming The Dead 2000; Jimmy’s Back, 2013; and The Narrative, 2018.
“We are so pleased to have Dice Raw share his talents with New Freedom Theatre and our audiences and look forward to a long association with us” stated Executive Producing Director, Sandra Norris Haughton
Board of Directors
Karl (Dice Raw) Jenkins, Chair
Reginald Coleman, Career Specialist, Vice Chair
Christina Thomas, City of Philadelphia, Secretary
Chris Perks, Engineer, President, Camden County Historical Society, Treasurer
Dr. Jill Scott, Artist, Singer, Arts Educator
Rennie Harris, Artist, Dancer, Choreographer
Artistic Advisory Board
Reg Flowers, Director, Playwright, Chair
Executive Producing Director
Ms, Sandra Norris Haughton, is a graduate of the internationally esteemed Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and Preservation Fellow of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Ms. Haughton is a nationally respected and much sought after cultural affairs expert and producer who excels at organizational and resource development. Because of her expertise in cultural arts strategic and developmental planning, she is known as an extremely successful “turn around” professional. Ms. Haughton has time after time taken on the responsibility of evaluating and implementing new strategies for cultural institutions in distress and developed transformational strategies to redefine and make them viable. She has raised millions of dollars over the span of her career for performing arts institutions including Philadanco! The Philadelphia Dance Company; South Jersey Performing Arts Center, National Ballet of New Jersey and served as Executive Director of Bailey Concert Hall in Fort Lauderdale Florida where she served as producer for works by Vinnette Carroll, the first African American female to direct on Broadway.
Ms. Haughton’s work at Freedom Theatre has been nothing short of miraculous. Despite severe financial shortfalls, physical plant issues, public perception and negative images of the theatre, she was able to put together a team of professionals who ensured that the theatre stayed open while successfully retiring almost $6 million in debt. Some of the highlights of her tenure include:
- Preparing an organizational assessment and creating a recovery plan that resulted in new funding and programming
- Restoring all required nonprofit registrations on the state, local and federal level
- Creating and executing a debt elimination plan which included retiring all IRS and Bank debt
- Developing new performing arts seasons from 2010-present
- Securing funding to make repairs on Freedom’s National Historic Landmark building including roof, HVAC and interior repairs
- Managing the development and implementation of a professional repositioning plan from the Community Design Collaborative for the building which resulted in new operation layout, allowing the Theatre to share the building with other organizations to generate new streams of revenue
- Implementing the creation of the Guest Artistic Director position from 2014-present
Producing five seasons of top notch professional productions, including: Home For the Holidays staring Dee Dee Sharp, Home, directed by Johnnie Hobbs, Jr. Celebrate! A Holiday Production 2013-2014; Opera Soup, and the entire 2014-2015 season including The Last Jimmy starring Dice Raw of the Roots; and Project I Voice readings of such plays as Charles Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play
- Producing new productions including Ballad of Trayvon Martin in 2016 ,Black Nativity in 2016, The Freedom Papers 2017, Mother Emanuel, 2017, Box in 2018,
- Creating new programming and facilitating new artistic and community collaborations for the theatre
- Reorganizing the Performing Arts Training Program to ensure that it had a vibrant summer and fall/winter season
- Launching a capital campaign
- Celebrating the theatre’s 50th anniversary with a full season of activities
- Future plans include:
- Completing renovation of the Edwin Forrest Mansion
- Organizing new artistic initiatives including commissioning new works for upcoming seasons
As Freedom Theatre celebrates its 53rd Anniversary, Ms. Haughton’s unparalleled leadership continues to place this historic organization on the path to greatness. All of Ms. Haughton’s initiatives are established to ensure the longevity of New Freedom Theatre, this iconic national treasure based in Philadelphia.
Ms. Haughton’s motto is:
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”