Atlanta, GA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/11/2012 -- This past weekend sent theatre lovers rushing to Woodruff Art Center's 14th Street Playhouse and the Loews Hotel in midtown for the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival's inaugural event. Over 40 performances and staged readings left patrons frenzied trying to decide which plays they wanted to see. One patron, Vanessa Tchoula, from Kentucky purchased 16 tickets. "They all looked so good." said Vanessa Tchoula from Kentucky. "I drove down here last weekend to be a volunteer. There are so many good plays, after I made my schedule, I realized I didn't have time to volunteer!"
The festival opened with Barrymore nominated actress Zuhairah McGill performing her one woman show Sojourner by Richard Lamonte Pierce, Philadelphia, PA. A story about the abolitionist and woman's rights activist Sojourner Truth. "What a transformation! It was like the spirit of Sojourner took over her body." proclaimed Marian Middleton from NJ.
Several plays left patrons in the lobby wishing they'd purchased advanced tickets to the sold out performances of Big Girls Gotta Eat, Too! by Wanda Simmons & Chaun Archer, A Song for Coretta by Pearl Cleage, and Notes of a Horne by Ryan Jillian. "The box office was so busy we had to add more staff." said Shari Floyd, Woodruff's Box Office Manager.
Toni Simmons Henson, Visionary for the Atlanta BTF
Artists and patrons from 18 states and three countries participated in the "theatre lovers paradise", a phrase used by the festival organizers to describe the event. There were also several family friendly events at the Loews Hotel, just a few blocks away, including a Youth Showcase, Reader's Theatre, Author's Alley, and workshops.
A gala at the fabulous Loews Hotel honored festival favorites selected by patrons who were given secret ballots before entering the theatre. Ravon Hutcherson won Favorite Performance in a Leading Role for his riveting portrayal as Caleb Solomon in Am I My Brother's Keeper by Landra Phillips, Laurelton, NY.
Favorite Performer in a Supporting Role was Bridgette Shorter in Love's Gotta Hold on Me by Shoya Bowman, Chicago, IL. Favorite Theatre Experience was garnered by Meshelle the Indie Mom of Comedy in her one woman play Diary of a M.I.L.F. (Mom I'd Love to Follow), Baltimore, MD. Natasha Dixon won Favorite Playwright for her savvy construction, character development and strong ending in the play Evolution of a Love Addict.Voted Overall Festival Favorite was Notes of a Horne by Ryan Jillian, New York, NY. This play was about the life of the legendary Lena Horne directed by the renowned Susan Batson. In addition, the Theatre Legend Award was bestowed upon Taurean Blacque, NAACP Image Award winner & Melba Moore, Tony Award winner, four time Grammy nominee and Oprah Legend. Following the gala the festival closed with the legendary actress Melba Moore in her acclaimed solo play, Still Standing.
Toni Simmons Henson, the festival visionary was on hand welcoming patrons in the lobby and getting first hand reviews on her staffs' selection of this years plays. "I am so excited about the future of this event. This is only the first of many years of providing a platform in Atlanta for emerging playwrights and plays at affordable prices." says Henson. Ticket prices ranged from as little as $10 to $20 for all shows.
"We are already getting ready for next year." exclaims Henson. "Mark your calendar for October 3-6,Columbus Day weekend. Let's do it again!"
For more information about the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, this year's festival favorites and next year’s line up visit http://www.AtlantaBTF.org or call 678-743-5337.
Contact: Toni Henson