Ron Himes Honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at
Woodie King Jr.'s New Federal Theatre's 50th Anniversary Virtual Gala
On Sunday, January 17, 2021 Ron Himes was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at
Woodie King Jr's New Federal Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Gala!
Fellow honorees are Cliff Frazier, S. Epatha Merkerson, Ed Pitt,, Phylicia Rashad, Oz Scott, Beth Turner, Gynn Turman and Douglas Turner Ward.
Ron Himes is the Founder and Producing Director of the Saint Louis Black Repertory Company and the Henry E. Hampton, Jr. Artist-in-Residence at Washington University. The Black Rep has developed a national reputation for staging quality productions from an African-American perspective. He founded the company in 1976 while still a student at Washington University, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. The Black Rep began touring to other college campuses and, in 1981, found a home in the former sanctuary of the Greely Presbyterian Church in north St. Louis City, which the company converted and renamed the 23rd Street Theatre. Read more:
New Federal Theatre Brief History
New Federal Theatre (NFT) founded by Woodie King Jr. in 1970, an outgrowth of a theatre program called Mobilization for Youth. This neighborhood-based professional theatre was originally funded by the Henry Street Settlement along with a small grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. The theatre’s first season was launched in the basement of St. Augustine’s Church on Henry Street.
Several early successes brought NFT to national prominence: Black Girl by J.e. Franklin, won a Drama Desk Award, The Taking of Miss Janie by Ed Bullins moved from NFT to Lincoln Center, and won the Drama Critics Circle Award; For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange performed on Broadway for 10 months and was nominated for the Tony Award before embarking on a three-year national tour. It has subsequently been performed regionally and around the world, and was revived off-Broadway in 2019. Both plays were co-produced with the late Joseph Papp.
Many performers benefited from early successes on NFT’s stage, including the late Chadwick Boseman, Debbie Allen, Morgan Freeman, Phylicia Rashad, Denzel Washington, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Issa Rae, and many more.
NFT has focused on the production of new works, often by young playwrights . Many plays first premiered at NFT have established the reputations of playwrights who have gone one to bigger successes later in their careers. For example, Charles Fuller premiered two plays at NFT, In My Many Names and Days and The Candidate. He was later to win the Pulitzer Prize for A Soldier’s Play, and David Henry Hwang, premiered The Dance And The Railroad at NFT & was later to win the Drama Desk Award for M. Butterfly..