Billie Holiday Theatre, Inc. (BHT) was founded in 1972 by Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration), a community development corporation whose mission is to be the catalyst for the progressive improvement of the quality of life for the people in Bedford Stuyvesant. BHT strives to do its part by producing three to four major productions each season along with presenting a series for children and/or teens as well as featuring special programming for the entire family to commemorate holidays such as Kwanzaa or Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday or celebrate the lives of other historical figures whose lives are significant to our community.
Billie Holiday Theatre strives to produce and present productions and programs so dynamic in their relevance, content and connection to our community that a positive transformation begs to take place. Many years ago, a play that originated at BHT was transferred to Broadway. This was quite a milestone at the time, because it was the first time (as cited in the New York Times) that 50% of the financing for a show came from the Black community--unheard of prior to Inacent Black. It was a play whose message positively transformed and galvanized the community to action. Hence, the Billie Holiday Theatre winner of Obie Awards (Excellence Off Broadway) and Audelco Awards (Excellence in Black Theatre) states its mission as:
- To present professional theatre in a manner which enlightens, uplifts and entertains the African/Caribbean American community
- To sustain a working environment in which the talented and trained artist can fully develop and explore his craft.
Many of today's successful actors, writers and designers developed their craft on the Billie Holiday Theatre's stage. Actors such as Samuel L. Jackson, Debbie Allen, Tichina Arnold (Chris' mom on Everybody Hates Chris), Bill Cobbs, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Carol Woods, Elaine Graham and Ebony JoAnn to name but a few. The great political satirist/comic, Dick Gregory made his theatrical comeback after twenty years on the BHT stage. BHT audiences were also treated to the reunion of Good Times stars Ralph Carter and John Amos; the legendary William "Smokey" Robinson had his first musical theatre production, Raisin' Hell, produced at BHT; notable authors whose first plays were produced at BHT are: Samm Art Williams, long before his Tony Award nominated play, Home; lyricist for the classic To Be Young, Gifted and Black, the late Weldon Irvine delighted BHT audiences with his musicals Over Forty, The Vampire and the Dentist, and Young, Gifted and Broke; John Henry Redwood honed his first play at BHT before his commercial Off-Broadway staged play, and HBO special Old Settler; Victor Willis and Alex Briley met and performed at BHT eight months prior to forming The Village People; bassist extraordinaire and producer for Miles Davis and Luther Vandross, Marcus Miller performed under Weldon Irvine's direction in BHT's pit band.
The New York Daily News calls the Billie Holiday Theatre "a neighborhood jewel and one of the nation's premier Black playhouses." The Crisis calls the Theatre "An unsung institution of our own distinction which produces some of the best dramatic productions in the country, a monument more deserving than the great white way."
The 20132014 Season is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; NYC Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations, James Van Bramer, Chair; City Councilman, Al Vann; New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; Assemblywoman, Annette Robinson; also supported by Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. The Billie Holiday Theatre, Inc. is a proud member of the Coalition of Theatres of Color (CTC).
Many of our past funders are listed on the page of seasons they supported. Visit the our archives for more information about previous seasons.
Executive Director and Producer
|MARJORIE MOON is Executive Director and Producer of the AUDELCO and Obie award-winning Billie Holiday Theatre position she has held for more than thirty years. Most recently, Ms. Moon directed Sassy Mamas and Steal Away as well as Judi Ann Mason's Storm Stories, Lorey Hayes' Power Play and Bless Ji JaJa's M. She also directed Bless Ji Jaja's Barberdashers and Birth, Celeste Bedford Walker's Reunion in Bartersville; White Chocolate by Samuel L. Kelley, Leslie Lee's Spirit North and John Henry Redwood's Acted Within Proper Departmental Procedure.
Additionally, during her tenure, she has directed productions that include Weldon Irvine's Young, Gifted and Broke, Smokey Robinson's Raisin' Hell (co-directed] and Brothers and Sisters, Husbands and Wives. Ms. Moon also directed the latter production starring Ella Joyce (Roc) and Count Stovall (All My Children) at Houston Texas Music Hall. Ms. Moon has produced more than 150 productions including the regional touring productions of Lotto and Over Forty in venues that range from Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall to Washington, D.C.'s Warner Theatre and Historic Tacoma Theatre, Baltimore's Lyric Opera House, Philadelphia's Plays and Players. She produced Good Black Don't Crack at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. On Broadway, Ms. Moon co-produced Inacent Black starring Melba Moore.
After earning her MFA from Temple University, Ms. Moon joined the Speech and Drama Department at Hampton (Institute] University. She later served as adjunct lecturer at Brooklyn College. Ms. Moon is the proud recipient of the Larry Leon Hamlin's Producer Award at the National Black Theatre Festival.
Photo credit: Arthur Cohen
Jackie Alexander's novel, Our Daily Bread
|JACKIE ALEXANDER is an award winning actor, writer, producer, and director. His debut feature film Joy, on which he served as actor, writer, and director was awarded Best Feature Film 2002 by the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, and named one of the Top Five Independent Films 2002 by Blackfilm.com, which sponsored a national tour of the film that included screenings at the Director's Guild of America in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago, the French Embassy in Washington D.C., and the Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center in New York. The film also earned Best Actor and Best Screenplay honors for Jackie on the festival circuit.
Stage directing credits include the World Premieres of his critically acclaimed plays Brothers from the Bottom, The High Priestess of Dark Alley, The Legend of Buster Neal, The Right Reverend Dupree in Exile, The Desire, Birthright, and The Obeah Symphony. Select other credits are The Waiting Room by Tony Nominee Samm-Art Williams, the Off-Broadway World Premiere of Plenty of Time at Primary Stages in New York, Lemon Meringue Façade by Ted Lange, Losing the Light, and Video Direction for the World Premiere of Judi Ann Mason's multi-media play Storm StoriesTrue Stories From Hurricane Katrina. Jackie's direction of Plenty of Time was also honored with a production at the 2005 National Black Theatre Festival, while his plays The High Priestess of Dark Alley and The Legend of Buster Neal received that distinction in 2009 and 2011, respectively.
A short list of stage acting credits include: Acted Within Proper Departmental Procedure, Losing the Light, Imperfection Flawed, The Death of Bessie Smith, Romance, Revolution, & War, Tell Pharaoh and The Author's Voice, which he produced on Theatre Row, as well as the originating role of "Prophet Solomon Jones" in Raisin' Hell, a musical premiere by Motown Legend William "Smokey" Robinson.
Jackie’s debut novel, Our Daily Bread, was published by Turner Publishing in the fall of 2012, and is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major online booksellers. The book was acquired by publishing veteran, Diane Gedymin. Gedymin described Our Daily Bread as “moving and evocative,” and stated that, “it is important to get Our Daily Bread into the hands of readers who will be enriched by Alexander’s unique perspective.”
Jackie has been featured on two recordings Spoken Melodies and the critically and socially acclaimed Amadou Project - Price of Freedom, both produced by the late jazz great Weldon Irvine.
For more information, please visit www.jackiealexanderproductions.com.
Above: Ms. Dee in 2011 at a luncheon in her honor hosted by The Coalition of Theatres of Color. From left to right, Director of Youth Arts Academy and actor Peggy Alston, BHT Executive Director Marjorie Moon, Ms. Ruby Dee, Freedomways Founding Editer Esther Jackson and poet and activist Sonja Sanchez.
Ruby Dee was a magnanimous, committed, incredibly talented artist with an immense capacity for love. Ms. Dee was a brilliant, mesmerizing actor and writer which brought her fame and a fierce advocate for civil rights and theatres of color which brought her our admiration and our deeply rooted gratitude.
Above: Ms. Dee with BHT Executive Director Marjorie Moon, (left) and BHT Artistic Director Jackie Alexander (right).
Ms. Dee demonstrated her love through her partnership with her husband, the great Ossie Davis, and through her seeming inability to say "no" to endless requests from members of the theatres of color community who called upon her to appear, to present, and to be there for us.
Ms. Dee has our lifetime devotion and appreciation and has inspired our community to maintain our theatres with integrity, high artistic standards and love.
Thank you, Ms. Ruby Dee.
Billie Holiday Theatre, Inc.
Board of Directors and Staff
Saturday, June 14, 2014
To learn more about Ruby Dee's career and legacy visit the official site: www.ossieandruby.com.
To express condolences and share with other fans and admirers visit the official facebook fan page.
Executive Director and Producer
Resident Stage Manager
Assistant to the Producer
Jonada R. Burson
Carrie C. Reyes
Wayne C. Winborne, Chairman
Ruby Dee (1922-2014)
Colvin W. Grannum, Esq.
Antonia Yulle Williams
Lester W. Young, Jr. Ed.D.
Submissions are open for the Billie Holiday Theatre's 2013-2014 New Voices Reading Series, and the 2014-2015 main stage season. To submit, please follow the guidelines below:
with the subject line: [Title of Your Play] 2014-2015 Script Submission
In the body of the email include the following:
Attach the first 10 pages of the script in PDF format.
To ensure your submission is reviewed, please strictly adhere to the above guidelines. If interested, the full script will be requested. Please note that due to the volume of submissions, we unfortunately cannot respond to individual emails.
Agents may email full scripts with production history and a playwright biography to
, or send hardcopy to:
Billie Holiday Theatre
ATTN: Literary Manager
PO Box 470131
Brooklyn, NY 11247-0131