TAKE WING AND SOAR PRODUCTIONS, INC.

D E B R A   A N N   B Y R D  -   F O U N D E R   &   P R O D U C I N G   A R T I S T I C   D I R E C T O R.

FORGIVE ME? | MEET THE COMPANY

BEVERLEY PRENTICE [Lexie] native of Cardiff, UK is a graduate of the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London. She has enjoyed a dynamic career in dance traveling internationally. A former company member of the New York based, Urban Bush Women.  Theater credits include: Fighting Fires; Out of Control, Julius Caesar; Salome; Medea; Darker Face to the Earth; Taming of the Shrew; Antigone (US,), The Oedipus Plays, 2003 Athens Festival in Greece; She is Associate Artistic Director of OdD Socks Productions, which she formed with Tony Award winning actress Trazana Beverley.

 

GILBERT GLENN BROWN [Zachariah] He has earned a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Some of his television/film credits include:  TV:  “E.R”, “Shark”, “The Shield”,  “The OC”, “The Parker’s” and “Roswell” ; Film: “Dreamgirls”, “The Good Fight, “The Eavsedropper” , ”Raising the Heights”, “Romeo & Juliet Revisited”, Night Falls on Manhattan and  “Rain”. Some of his theatre credits include;  “Miss Evers’ Boys (nominee 2002 NAACP Best Actor and Best Actor 2003 COLSAC Theatre Award Winner and at the 2003 National Black Theatre Festival), “The Scottsboro Boys” (winner 2003 LA Drama Critics and LA Weekly Theatre Awards for Best Ensemble, nominee 2003 Ovation Awards Best Ensemble), “Has Anyone Seen My Rainbow” (nominee 2003 NAACP Best Musical Production),  “DWB in Beverly Hills” (nominee 2001 NAACP Best Supporting Actor) and  “For Black Boys…” (2001 NAACP award nomination Best Ensemble),  “On the Edge” at the Vineyard Theatre - NYC.  “Trip This A Dangerous Voyage” and “No Laughing Matter” at the Apollo - NYC.  Gilbert has worked in numerous Off-Broadway houses in New York the National Black Theatre, Playwrights Horizons/42nd St. Collective, and The Producer’s Club. Gilbert’s one man musical “Malcolm X”  (in which he was a contributing writer) has toured in New York and California. Gilbert is honored to be working with Trezana Beverley, Esther Armah, The TWAS Team and the talented Beverley Prentice on this wonderful play.  “I give thanks to the Creator, my family, friends, loved ones and those who paved the way.“

 

ESTHER ARMAH [Playwright] is a playwright, an award-winning international journalist, an author and  radio host. Her first play was a one woman show 'Can I Be Me?" adapted from her book. Her second play is 'Forgive Me?', which debuted  in June 2008 at ‘The Roger Furman Playreading Series’ where it broke audience attendance records. It was then selected for the September 2008 ‘Urban Stages Playreading Series’ and has now been selected for Mainstage Theatre at this summer’s ‘Midtown International Theatre Festival’. 'Entitled!' is her third play; debuting as a staged reading at the ‘Dwyer Cultural Center’, the new home of The Roger Furman PlayReading Series. Esther has also worked in print, radio and television in the UK, US and Africa for more than a decade. As a New York radio host, you can hear her from Monday to Thursday 6am to 8am hosting 'Wake Up Call' WBAI99.5FM, the morning drive time talk show. She also hosts 'Off The Page', a multi-media radio talk show about the world of books. She has written for 'The Guardian' newspaper in London, 'Essence' magazine in the US, and 'West Africa' magazine. On radio in London she worked with the BBC as an investigative reporter, a documentary maker and a radio host. On tv in London, she has worked in front of and behind the camera for the BBC and Sky TV. On tv in New York she has appeared in BET's Hip Hop vs America Part II: Where Did The Love Go?, MNN's Ancestor House with Camille Yarbrough, BETJ's 'My Two Cents’ and GRITtv with Laura Flanders which she has also hosted. As a reporter and journalist she has traveled and worked in London, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Lesotho, Washington and Philadelphia. She now lives in New York. Her website is www.centricproductions.co.uk  

 

TREZANA BEVERLEY [Director] won the 1976 Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf.  Ms. Beverley has since created a unique signature in the American theatre.  She is not only recognized as one of our country’s great actresses, but is also a master acting teacher, director and singer.  She has been a guest director on the theatre faculties of NYU Tisch School of The Arts, Rutgers University, Brandeis University, City College, SUNY Purchase and currently, The Julliard School.  Trezana was an artist in residence at the PlayMakers Repertory Co. in Chapel Hill, NC for two years where she was able to further develop her original performance genre DanzActing™. Her recent regional directing credits include Salome, Yellowman and String Of Pearls and her directing work on Salome was sighted in American Theater Magazine [September 2003].  She made her New York commercial theatre debut with TWAS’ production of The Darker Face of the Earth.

 

JAMES “PREZ” CARTER [Light Design] Just Finished Designing the Lights for The Turnstyle Warrior at the ATA, the Hattie What I Need You To Know show at The National Black Theatre.  Is Currently working at Good Morning America (ABC-8 Years) & Focus Earth (ABC) in the lighting department. James also worked at NBC Brian William as a Sub /Electrician & Propman and GospelUptown as sub Light Designer. He has also worked at the World Famous Apollo Theatre (Over 18 Years as an Stage Manager, Light Designer, Electric Crew, Stage Crew), NBC Soap Opera: As The World Turns in the Special Effect Dept (CBS 1year), BMCC, The Billie Holiday Theater for 10 Years serving as Stage Manager, Prod Asst, Stage Crew, Town Hall in Flushing Queens as Light Director/Designer (3 years), New Federal Theatre, Negro Ensemble Company (3 years). He has also worked on Broadway and off Bway and Tours with such plays/Acts as: Harlem Coffee Shop, Your Arms Too Short To Box With God, Smokey Joe’s Café, The Boys Choir Of Harlem, Mama I Want To Sing, Comin Uptown, Sophisticated Ladies and worked with celebrities as Patti Labelle, SWV, The Late Great Gregory Hines, Xscape, Kidd Skilly, C-Boogie, The late Great Luther Vandross, Debbie Allen, Phylicia Allen, Carol Woods, Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell, Ralph Carter, Haywood Nelson, Ray Chew, Faith Evans, Imajin, Monica to name a few. James is also a Light & Sound Designer, Light Director, Writer, Director, Producer, Manager, Tech Director and a Stage Manager.  He has been nominated for an Audelco Recognition Award for best light designer on the show: Sango: Lord Of Thunder at The NBT in 2006.  You can Contact James at [email protected] or 212 860-3639 M-Sat 11a-7p

 

MERCEDES AYALA [Stage Manager] This phenomenal spirited actor alumni is an AUDELCO member and proud native of the Bronx, in New York.  She received most of her training at The National Black Theatre and has performed as well as worked tech on various film and stage productions throughout the city.  Mercedes’ most recent work includes the voice of Michael in “Peter Pan” at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre at Central Park in New York City.  She is currently in training for Television Production and teaches pre-school at The Learning Tree also in the Bronx.  Mercedes is grateful for the Gift from God, the sacrifices of our Ancestors, the support of her family Mel, Shanasia, Nakia, and Mikhael, and special friends Angela, and Nelly, and most appreciative for opportunity to work with mentor Debra Ann Byrd and the family of The National Black Theatre, Institute of Action Arts.  Contact Info: 347.866.1981

 

PENNY LANDAU/Maya PR [Press Representative] saw her first Broadway show, West Side Story, when she was 9 years old.  Since then, she has performed, stage managed,  directed,  teched, taught  and, for  the last 23 years, run her own PR firm.  Maya PR has repped Renee Taylor & Joe Bologna; the multi-award winning Jelly Roll! starring Vernel Bagneris; Edge starring Angelica Torn as Sylvia Plath (NY, London & Australia); Third Eye Rep's acclaimed Godspell; actors Rena Strober (currently on tour with Topol in Fiddler on the Roof), Geri Jewell ("Deadwood"),  BarBara Luna ("Star Trek"), France Nuyen (Joy Luck Club), Sal Richards (Out for Justice, "The Sopranos"), Karen Lynn Gorney (Saturday Night Fever); Kathy Garver ("Family Affair");  vocalist Suzanne Carrico; actor/singer Franc D'Ambrosio (Phantom of the Opera, The Godfather, Part III); musical comedian & impressionist Stephen Sorrentino; Barefoot Theatre Company, Gorilla Rep, upcoming film The Big Gay Musical, Turner Publishing, The Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs, The League of Professional Theatre Women &  Big Apple Comic Book, Art & Sci-Fi Conventions. She is honored to be working with Debra Ann Byrd & Take Wing And Soar Productions.

 

LAZETTE MCCANTS [House Manager] was introduced to the “black theatre experience”, over twenty years ago, by Ms. Vivian Robinson, the founder of AUDELCO.  She has enthusiastically supported arts and culture in general and black theatre, in particular.  Most recently she was Volunteer Coordinator and House Manager for the National Black Theatre’s co-Production of “Hattie…” . Currently she serves as the Director of Volunteer Services for Take Wing and Soar Productions.  Also, for 2009 she is the Managing Director of RhythmColor Associates’ the 4th Annual POTPOURRI - World Women Works Series.  LaZette continues to volunteer and consult with community-based, cultural and social service organizations.  Over the past year, she has also begun to develop a group called Volunteer Divas Plus.  This group is comprised of individuals with various background related to theatre and includes, actors, writers, producers and enthusiasts.  LaZette’s goal is to look for ways to be involved and perpetuate the spirit of volunteerism while passing on her skills, knowledge, commitment and experience.

 

DEBRA ANN BYRD [Producer | General Manager] is the Founder of Take Wing And Soar Productions, Inc., where she currently serves as Chief Executive and Producing Artistic Director.  Ms. Byrd has guided this company's growth from its birth as the passionate dream of one determined woman into a viable support organization serving classical artists of color and theater arts groups throughout New York.  As an actor, producer, arts manager, and business leader she has received more than 20 awards and citations and was recently selected for inclusion in the 2008 ~ 25th Silver Anniversary Edition of Who’s Who In The World and is the recipient of the 2006 Josephine Abady Award for Excellence in Producing works that foster diversity.  This award winning theater arts professional received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Acting from Marymount Manhattan College, and a certificate of completion from The Public Theater’s Shakespeare Lab Program.   In  2007   she  was  selected  for  producer  training  at  The  Commercial Theatre Institute, a special project of The League of American Theatres and Producers and the Theatre Development Fund.  She received additional training from the Arts Leadership Institute, a unique Leadership Training Program for Arts Managers at Teacher’s College/Columbia University.  Ms Byrd is currently on the Producing Team at The National Black Theatre, Inc. and an Associate Producer for 6-10 Productions, Inc.  Her credits as a producer include: For TWAS Inc.: King Lear, MEDEA, Hamlet, The Darker Face Of The Earth, CORIOLANUS: The African Warrior, Richard III; four years of the Take Wing And Soar Spirit Of Excellence Awards and five seasons of the TWAS Classical Lab Reading Series.  For the National Black Theatre; HATTIE…What  Need You To Know!; Orunmila, Don’t Play That Song For Me, Black Man Rising, Dorothy Dandridge: Before, After and Now, Yesterday Came Too Soon: The Dorothy Dandridge Story, Yesterday’s, Serenade The World: The Music and Words of Oscar Brown Jr., and Marian Anderson: The Lady From Philadelphia; and for 6-10 Productions Broadway Sings The Odd Potato: A Chanukah Musical.  A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU TO MY MENTORS; Veronica Claypool, John-Phillip Parkman and Dorothy Olim.  Your guidance and encouragement has been the wind beneath this little ‘byrd’s’ wings.  And to my special mentor Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, who now looks down from on high, “Thanks a million for your many years of support, your strong leadership and guidance, your unending love, and the many blessings you have left me with.”  

 

ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION [AEA] founded in 1913, represents more than 45,000 actors and stage managers in the United States.  Equity seeks to advance promote and foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of our society.  Equity negotiates wages and working conditions, providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans.  AEA is a member of the AFL-CIO, and is affiliated with FIA, an international organization of performing arts unions.  The Equity emblem is our mark of excellence.  www.actorsequity.org

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