Theater trip offers chances for experience

Ben Wolford

The Black Theatre Association is taking a two-week journey starting Thursday to two theater festivals in North Carolina and Virginia.

The group will stop Thursday at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C. and Saturday in Covington, Va. for the Wrightsville Renewal Festival.

“A lot of well-established black actors and also big-screen actors will be there (at the National Black Theatre Festival),” said Christian Boykin, president of the Black Theatre Association. “It’s a good experience for black actors to network and pass out resumes.”

According to the festival’s Web site, the festival has seen such celebrities as Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou since the first event in 1989. This year the list of stars includes actors Ted Lange, Janet Hubert and Dick Anthony Williams.

The Black Theatre Association will perform plays, lead workshops and participate in the Youth Talent Showcase.

But the group is most excited about the Wrightsville Renewal Festival.

“We’re excited about it because not only is it the Wrightsville Renewal Festival, but Dr. Calvin McClinton is the founder,” Boykin said.

McClinton, an associate professor of theatre arts and a musical theatre specialist at Kent State, is a native of Covington. He founded the McClinton Musical Theatre Arts Foundation, which puts on the Wrightsville Renewal Festival.

“It’s not just theater,” Boykin said of the event. “There’s jazz, poetry and all the arts.”

One of the main purposes of the festival is to revitalize the town of Covington.

“It was at once a very lively town, and Dr. McClinton is trying to bring that back,” Boykin said.

The association was founded a year ago for theater majors or anyone who wants to broaden their theater experience and connections.

“A group of six or seven of us started it,” Boykin said. “We had people leaving the theater department because they didn’t think they had opportunities.”

Contact news correspondent Ben Wolford at [email protected]