In the Beginning…Freedom Theatre Alumni
Ever watched a show or attended a performance and wondered ‘where did that actor get their start?’
For those actors that came through the doors of Freedom Theatre well before they became ‘famous’, ‘well-known’ or ‘overnight’ sensations, their beginnings are often the grounding and spark that has helped them to push through the ups and downs of life on stage and/or screen, or in music.
Whether the screen is a computer screen (in a video), or TV screen, or the stage is the performing stage, or ‘stage of life’, find out what these talented Freedom Theatre Alumni have to say about their beginnings.
“Freedom Theater was where it all began for me. Freedom is the foundation of all of my formative training and I am grateful for that every single day. I’ve built on the foundation for years and years but at that base level there is a focus on excellence, and personal responsibility, and joy, and improvisation, and fearlessness, and pride, and intellect, and humility that I learned at the Freedom Theater. I am a proud Freedom Theater actor out in the world and I hope that it shows. I walked out of the doors at Freedom a better version of myself than when I entered. Couldn’t have asked for more.” – Leslie Odom, Jr.
Follow Leslie: Twitter | Facebook | More Photos
The Edwin Forrest Play Reading Series: Who Stabbed King? is the second in the series, is directed by Eddie Shields. The reading was written by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, Guest Artistic Director at New Freedom Theatre. It is the story about the time Dr. King was stabbed in a Harlem Bookstore by Izola Ware Curry. Ms. Ware Curry, was a schizophrenic. Join us to hear more about this story and to learn aspects of this little known event in American history, the outcome for Ms. Ware Curry and the effect on the King family.
Briefly, Curry, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, believed that Dr. King, the NAACP, and civil rights activists were mixed up with Communists and torturing her. She attended Dr. King’s book signing for “Stride Toward Freedom” in New York, where she spoke briefly to Dr. King, then used a letter opener to brutally stab him in the left chest area. The doctors of Harlem Hospital later told the reverend that if he had sneezed, the instrument would have punctured his aorta and he would have bled to death.
Immediately after the incident, Curry was arrested. She was found to be carrying a handgun. Curry was charged with felonious assault and possession of firearms. She was, of course, found incompetent to stand trial and was transferred from Bellevue Hospital where she had been in observation, to a permanent home at the Matteawan State Hospital for the criminally insane.
Ten days after the incident. Dr. King, who was still hospitalized, publicly stated that he held no resentment toward Curry and that he had hoped she would receive the help she needed.*
*Source: Taylor, E. (2013). Little Known Black History Fact: Izola Ware Curry, Stabber of MLK. The Tom Joyner Morning Show
Join us for The Edwin Forrest Play Reading Series: Who Stabbed King? as we learn more about this incident in history, about the woman, her illness, and how the King family cared for Izola Ware Curry. Audience discussion will follow the reading with a focus on the effects of mental illness in the African American community.
For more about the series, please click here
Freedom Theatre presents
The Edwin Forrest Play Reading Series Launch
The Edwin Forrest Play Reading series launch is in honor of Edwin Forrest, whose former home is the site of Freedom Theatre. This play reading series takes works that have been historically bypassed and places them in a new diaspora by way of unique casting or vision, in order to breathe life into the piece. The first reading will be March 14, at 6:30 pm. The series continues monthly beginning Monday, April 25th. We are pleased to offer the Edwin Forrest Play Reading series as FREE admission.
The program is sponsored by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
The event is free. The readings will be directed by Adam Mace, the selected works will be read by various Philadelphia Artists.
Photo source: New Burgh Library
New Freedom Theatre Celebrates Black History Month
What’s Up! New Freedom during February 2016 – Productions/Rehearsals/Community/Renovations
New Freedom Theatre Celebrates Black History Month
- New Freedom Theatre celebrates Black History Month. Beginning February 1st, New Freedom kicks off the month with the Edwin Forrest Mansion Renovation project. Yes! we are open during renovations
- Production rental for the Dancing in the Streets rehearsals, begin February 1st through February 29th, then off to tour!
- Community rental Authentic Life Church, Sundays – February 1 through 18th
- New Freedom’s Performing Arts Training Program rehearsals begin February 1 through 29th, for Visions of Broadway on Broad Street production of the History of Blacks on Broadway
- February 10th, New Freedom Theatre staff welcome two staff appointees. Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj and Adam Mace. Rajendra is an Indo-Caribbean American artist, educator, and activist. The New York Times hailed him as “one of the most talented directors in New York these days.” He is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Rebel Theatre. Rajendra joins New Freedom Theatre as the season’s Guest Artistic Director. Welcome aboard Rajendra, we’re looking forward to a great season with you!
- Adam also joins us from Rebel Theatre where he is Associate Producing Artistic Director. As a director, Adam was praised by reviewer Ryan Leeds, “he should be commended for the fine work that he creates” Manhattan Digest (2015). Welcome aboard Adam, we’re happy to have you aboard!
- New Freedom Theatre’s Community Access program hosts the Celebration of Life Ceremony for Ba Garrett February 13th
- February 16th, New Freedom welcomes NBC10’s Wednesday’s Child program. Stay tuned for when the feature will be aired!
- New Freedom Theatre co-presents with Keith From Up Da Block: Freedom Justice Laughter – The B-Girl Edition, February 20th
- February 25th the Performing Arts Training Program students will perform in a Black History presentation at Wordsworth Academy
- New Freedom rounds out the month with a Tribute to John Allen (co-founder of Freedom Theatre), by New Freedom Theatre’s own Barrymore Award-Winning Actor and Educator, Johnnie Hobbs Jr. The Tribute will take place in the OIC Building on February 29th
Freedom Theatre Launches FREEDOM SPEAKS Series
Freedom Theatre launches FREEDOM SPEAKS Series which takes place the first Monday of every month, beginning on March 7, 2016. Readings will begin at 6:30 pm, and admission is free.
Traditionally, writers, visual artists, performers, educators, and others interested in cultural events gathered at these meetings.*
Join New Freedom as we launch the new
Freedom Speaks Salon Series
February 7, 2016, at 6:30 pm
The Series begins with a conversation with our own Barrymore Lifetime Achievement Award-winner, Actor and Educator Johnnie Hobbs Jr. Mr. Hobbs was recently honored with the Award for his work this past November. His long association with New Freedom Theatre and his many contributions to the arts, both on stage and off have earned him the respect of his students and from his colleagues. As an accomplished actor, director and educator, Mr. Hobbs has contributed greatly to New Freedom Theatre productions and as Senior Artistic Advisor. A veteran of the Philadelphia theater scene, he has performed in many productions in the region. As an actor, Mr. Hobbs has performed at most of the major Philadelphia theaters. In addition to New Freedom Theatre, he appeared many times at the late Philadelphia Drama Guild. He has also worked at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, the Arden Theatre, 1812 and the Walnut Street Theater. In addition to his stage work in Philadelphia, he has been on stage in Los Angeles and Boston and appeared in many movies, TV shows, and commercials.
Mr. Hobbs is a retired, tenured associate professor at the Ira Brind School of Theatre Arts at The University of the Arts. In 1996, Mr. Hobbs was the recipient of the Mary Lou Beitzel Award for Distinguished Teaching. He was also the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Academic Achievement Program and the advisor of the African American Student Union and the African Diaspora Collective. Recent directorial efforts include Oh, Beautiful, Dessa Rose and Does Your House Have Lions – the poetry of Sonia Sanchez. The Legacy of Love Foundation – Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (Philadelphia Chapter) honored Mr. Hobbs for his contribution in Arts & Culture.
New Freedom Theatre presents
Visions of Broadway on Broad Street: A History of Blacks on Broadway
Annual Celebration of Founder’s Day
John E. Allen, Jr. and Robert E. Leslie, Sr. with Melba Moore
Visions of Broadway on Broad Street 2016: A History of Blacks on Broadway
Founder’s Day is New Freedom’s homage to its co-founders John E. Allen, Jr. and Robert E. Leslie, Sr. This year’s musical theme is A History of Blacks on Broadway. The original musical, highlights the significant and exciting contributions of African Americans in the American musical tradition and in the entertainment industry as a whole. The history is presented from the artistic and cultural roots of Africa to artistic expressions developed in slavery. The history moves through the minstrel period, then to vaudeville, and finally to modern American musical theater.
For this original production of A History of Blacks on Broadway, students, staff, and alumni will present a show that highlights Broadway musical numbers. The performance is sure to delight audiences with its high-energy, entertaining, finger-popping, toe-tapping show numbers. A great production recommended for the entire family!
The original musical production is directed and choreographed by the Managing Director of the Performance Arts Training Program (PATP), Patricia Scott Hobbs. Joining her are the teaching staff of the PATP: the directorial/the choreographic team consists of Diane Leslie, Shawna Evans, and Khalil Munir; Musical director Latasha Morris, writer Shanna Mawavise, assisted by Gail Leslie. Also, in the role of support staff are alumni Anwar Marshall, music producer, and music coaches Holden Jones and Michael O’Bryan. All are teaching staff of New Freedom’s Performing Arts Training Program (PATP).
Click here to find out more about the Performing Arts Training Program and how you can enroll your child(ren). You could be watching them in future productions and in next year’s Visions of Broadway on Broad Street production!
We ask our students, parents and patrons for patience as we renovate our beloved historical building.
During renovation, New Freedom is open for business…
The renovation project signals a renewal and transformation that we can all be proud of!
Check out the history of the theatre under the “Our History” tab to find out more about the Edwin Forrest Mansion.