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.

New Heritage Theatre Group and Take Wing And Soar Productions present

Esther Armah's SAVIOUR?, Written by Esther Armah, Directed by Passion, Featuring Michael Green and Jimmy Aquino* | Publicity Photos by Jamaal Spencer, Sharp Eye Photos.   





Executive Producer

Voza Rivers


Producing Artistic Director

Debra Ann Byrd




Scenic Design: Pavlo Bosyy

Light Design: Joyce Liao

Costume Design:  Gail Cooper-Hecht

Sound Design: Sean O'Halloran

Hair & Grooming: O.D. Madison



General Manager:

Debra Ann Byrd

Prod Stage Manager:

William J. Vila*

Asst Stage Manager:

Annette Nelson-Wright


Shabazz Communications Inc.

Directing Assistant:

Jasmin Heatley

Dir. Volunteer Services:

 LaZette McCants

Production: Samuel L. Billups

& Joshua Glenn


Graphic Art: dagrafix designs, ltd

Photograpy: Jamaal Spencer

& Hubert Williams



Fast Paced. Provocative. Potent.


Use arrow below to scroll to view all bios

MICHAEL GREEN [Michael Jamal Williams III] Michael has received critical praise for his ongoing performance as Dr. King in Jeff Stetson's  “The Meeting” at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black culture and venues across the Tri-State and Nationally.  Other roles of note include Sam in “Blues for an Alabama Sky” (Our Place Theatre-Boston), Reverend Ambrose in “A Lesson Before Dying” (New Repertory Theatre-Boston), the Governor in “The Blacks” (Classical Theatre of Harlem-New York),Michael in “Blues Train” (National Black Theatre-New York), and Moses in “Camp Logan” (Victoria Five Theatre-New York). Michael can be seen on CBS's “Walker Texas Ranger” and can be heard as the voice of Uncle Al on Nickelodeon's “Little Bill”.  For the past seven years, Michael has been the drama instructor for the Artists Collective in Hartford, Ct. and Teaching Artist for Medgar Evers College English Department's “ “Re-envisioning Ourselves Through Literature” working with Dr. Brenda Greene. As the Producer / Director of Shades of Truth Theatre he is committed to positive and provocative “Black Theatre” Please visit www.shadesoftruththeatre.com “ I am honored and grateful to be working with this very important group of Artists and Producers…Thank you Esther, Passion, Debra Ann, Marcia and Voza”


JIMMY AQUINO* [Billy Hall] Carlos in “The Eleventh Commandment” at 42nd Street-Theatre Row, created five different characters for the show “Laugh and Cry”, three for multiple comedy skits and an additional two characters in the one act play “Do you mind If I Join You”, in which he received a nomination for best actor by the “Spotlight On Off Broadway” awards.  Other theatre credits include; Muscles (Joe) in “Evaluating Woody” at The Mint, he played multi-character roles Lucius and Mr. Wilson in the dramatic new play “Easy Money” at The Lambs, Dorn in Chekhov’s “The Seagull”, Father, Paul and Harvey in A.R. Gurneys “The Dining Room”, Madrone in “Barcinda Forest.” Film credits include; “Mariposa”, “Directing Eddie”, “Legacy of Lies”, “Beautiful Vacation”.  Appearing in comedy skits on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno and “The David Letterman Show”. A native of Chicago’s “South Side,” now calls Brooklyn home.


ESTHER ARMAH [Playwright] is a playwright, an award-winning international journalist, an author and radio host. Her first play was 'Can I Be Me?" a one woman show adapted from her book by the same name. Her second play is 'Forgive Me?', which debuted  in 2008 at ‘The Roger Furman Playreading Series’ where it broke audience attendance records for this prestigious play-reading series. It was then selected for the September 2008 ‘Urban Stages Playreading Series’ and appeared on Mainstage Theatre, produced by Take Wing And Soar Productions, in July and August 2009’s ‘Midtown International Theatre Festival’ 'Entitled!' is the third play penned by Esther Armah. It debuted at Harlem’s ‘Dwyer Cultural Center’ on June 2009. Esther has also worked in print, radio and television in the UK, US and Africa for more than a decade as a journalist. As a New York radio host, you can hear her WBAI’s morning show 'Wake Up Call' on WBAI99.5FM. 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. Saviour? is her fourth play and debuts as an equity show case October 2011 with Harlem’s Dwyer Cultural Center.


PASSION [Director] Some of thirty-five productions Passion has directed include Another Man’s Poison (Off-Broadway), Antigone Asata Shakur, T’was The Night Before Kwanzaa, Real Black Men Don’t Sit Crosslegged On The Floor (Best Ensemble Audelco Award), Air Force 525, Jazz Housewife and Blog Out Loud.  In the N.Y. Fringe Festival she directed Damon & Debra and Black Martian. Other festivals include Estrogenius, Going To The River and Melba Moore’s Sweet Songs of the Soul (Best Solo Performer Audelco Award) at the National Black Theater Festival and Bermuda Festival. At Newark and Houston airports, she directed Gimme Wings!  and Formerly Known As Sarah, a tribute to Madame. C.J. Walker, was presented at the National Arts Club, the Museum of the City of New York and Freedom Theatre. This Audelco Outstanding Pioneer Honoree is former Artistic Director of the NJPAC Young Writers Workshop, a Lincoln Center Directors Lab alum, SDC Assoc. and Workshop Theater Company member.


PAVLO BOSYY [Scenic Designer] Assistant Professor of Scenography at the University of San Diego, California (USA), Pavlo Bosyy has taught Theatre Arts, History, and Humanities for nearly 20 years at the university level. He designed, directed or performed in about 100 projects at regional and academic theatres in Ukraine and the USA and Off-Broadway companies. Pavlo’s works participated at SETC, ACTF, USITT’s Young Designers’ Forum, Ming’s Clambake, at the World Design Forum, Prague Quadrennial and at numerous international conferences in the United States and Western Europe.  Professional credits include Kropyvnytsky Theatre - one of the oldest professional resident companies in Ukraine, Century Dance Exchange (Taipei, Taiwan), New York Fringe Festival, Equity Showcases at Take Wing And Soar Productions (NYC), Yangtze Repertory Company, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Meadowbrook Theatre, Plowshares Theatre Company and Jewish Ensemble Theatre in Michigan.


GAIL COOPER-HECHT [Costume Designer] work was most recently seen in NYC with the world premieres of BAFO, by Thomas Strelich. at The American Place Theatre, Moses Was Mv Brother at the Kaufman Theater and Zise Khaloymes (Sweet Dreams) for the Folksbeine at Theatre Four  She designed the hit Off-Broadway play Bermuda Avenue Triangle starring Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna, The Apple Doesn’t Fall directed by Leonard Nimroy, at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre. Off-Bway’s Party. Most recent regional credits include Neil Simon’s Hotel Suite for the Walnut Street Theatre, and Jesus Christ Superstar and Marvin’s Room the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center in Nyack.  Other recent designs include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for the Hayes, 1776 at the Walnut Street, and Yankel the Smith and The Maiden of Ludmir for the Folksbeine. Gail's designs for Awake and Sing starring Tovah Feldshuh at the Jewish Repertory Theatre earned critical acclaim, as did her work for the long running That’s Life at Theatre East. She also designed A Life in the Theatre for the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, and other productions include Conversations With My Father and Italian Funerals and Other Festive Occasions for Walnut Street, The Cage at UPU Rep., and The Gift Horse for JRT. Additional Broadway and Off-Broadway credits also include the world premieres of Ruthless, Rita MacKenzie's Call Me Ethel, Late Night Comic starring Robert Lupone, The Madwoman of Chaillot starring Geraldine Page and F. Murray Abraham, The Unguided Missle, starring Estelle Parsons, for the American Piece, and Manny Azenberg's production of Those Were The Days. ¬Gail's designs have been seen in several National and International Tours including The Odd Couple starring Tony RandalI and Jack Klugmen,  La Cage… starring Gene Barry and Leroy Reams, Camelot starring Robert Goulet, The Sound of Music starring Debbie Boone, ...Forum starring Mickey Rooney, three Carol Channing Dolly tours, and Women of the Year starring Barbara Eden.  Regional Theatre designs include such diverse productions as Family Affair, The Rainmaker, Les Liaisons Dangereuse, and You Can't Take it With You.  Gail was nominated for an Emmy Award for her design of Purlie for TV’s “Great Performances” Series.  She designed the CBS sit com “The Recovery Room” staring Eileen Heckart and Mark Linn, Baker, and for HBO Plaza Suite starring Lee Grant and Jerry Orbach.


JOYCE LIAO [Lighting Designer] Broadway: Marquis Theatre, where her work helped Soul of Shaolin to a 2009 Tony nomination in the category of Special Theatrical Event. Other New York Credits: Baruch Performing Arts Center, Cherry Lane Theatre, Henry Street Playhouse, Here Arts Center, Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre and Take Wing And Soar at The National Black Theatre. Regional: The Studio Theatre (DC), Le Petit Theatre (New Orleans), Jefferson Performing Arts Society (LA). Recent lighting design: Polanski Polanski and 7 Sins in 60 Minutes, Here Arts Center; Songs Of The Dragons Flying to Heaven, The Studio Theatre; Tosca, Amore Opera, Connelly Theatre. Joyce recently assisted Jennifer Tipton on The Glass Menagerie, first at New Haven's Longwharf Theater and again at the Laura Pels Theatre, when Roundabout brought this production to NYC. She also designed NPTC’s workshop of Hamlet and this year’s Women’s Work Short Play Festival. She is the winner of the Peggy Ezekiel Award for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design for Caucasian Chalk Circle. MFA: Ohio University Theater School.


SEAN O'HALLORAN [Sound Design] is a New York-based artist and technician who works  in the graphics industry, film industry and theatre. He has designed soundscapes for numerous productions including Castillo Theatre's A Night of One Acts: Che and Risky Revolutionary, Another Man's Poison, directed by Passion, New Federal Theatre's Kernel of Sanity, Sweet Mama Stringbean, Three Travelers, Melba Moore: Sweet Songs of the Soul, Paul Robeson, Great Men of Gospel, kA'RAMMU KUSH's kA', Don Wilson Glenn's American Menu, Ossie Davis' Last Dance for Sybil starring Ruby Dee,  and Howard B. Simon's  James Baldwin: A Soul on Fire. www.SeanOHalloran.com



THYSHA M. SHABAZZ [Marketing /Publicity] established Shabazz Communications, Inc. in September 2006 and has worked in the media industry for over fifteen years.  Shabazz Communications, is a full-service Communications & Publicity Company and has represented and worked with: Tavis Smiley, SmileyBooks, ESSENCE Magazine, Bre from America's Next Top Model and many more. Currently, Shabazz Communications is growing and continuing to deliver top-notch communication services to clients across the nation and the world. Shabazz Communications' mission is to represent celebrities, corporate entities, artists, community activists, authors and various organizations that are dedicated to empowering society and culture.


WILLIAM J. VILA* [Production Stage Manager] cherishes the opportunity to not only work with TWAS and Miss Debra but to work under PASSION’s direction along with a stunning duo of craftsman such as Messer’s Aquino and Green.  THEATRE: Billy Ray Johnson (Piano) in DESTIONATIONS (Dir., Gregory Fletcher – Le Poisson Rouge); Alex’s Father, Amunotep III in ANKHST (Dir., William York Hyde & Joe Williams – A.T.A.); Cami (Piano) in DON’T EXPLAIN (Dir., Rome Neal – Nuyorican Poets Café); Joe / Dad in TIGER, TIGER (Dir., Ted Mornel – TNC); Production Stage Manager for PECONG (Dir., Arthur French – Take Wing And Soar at the National Black Theatre); Dr. Storm North in PAP SMEAR (Dir., Jennifer Vermont-Davis – Payan Theatre).  Sang National Anthem at Madison Square Garden before New York Liberty and Knicks games and Citi Field for the Mets.  Thanks to Esther for the words, Debra Ann for the work and my life partner John O’Toole for “having my back.” ¡Bendición!


ANNETTE NELSON-WRIGHT [Assistant Stage Manager] a Jamaican native. Worked as production stage manager for the five time Audelco nominated production of ANTONY & CLEOPATRA and the 2010 Classical Staged Reading of Massinissa for Take Wing And Soar Productions.  Other stage management credits include Illegal Alien Andell Forgie; The award winning  Kingfish Amos n Andy  Black Spectrum Theatre  directed by Bette Howard; Snared Notion Production /Cezar Williams; The Brethren Thomas Goggans;  American Theatre of Harlem;  Caribbean Culture Theatre;  Unda MI Nose  KMC Productions; Giggles Production;  Paul Robeson Theatre;  Common Law Basil Dawkins Front Room Aston Cooke  by Ja-Mek-Ya.  Annette acted   in Higglers Ginger Knight.  However, she decides that being a stage manager is her contribution to the theatre genre. Respect One Love.




LAZETTE MCCANTS [House Manager] was introduced to the “Black Theatre Experience”, by Ms. Vivian Robinson, the founder of AUDELCO and became an AUDELCO member in 1983.  Her experience with AUDELCO included being a member of the Board of Directors, Nominating Committee and Event and Volunteer Coordinator. She has enthusiastically supported arts and culture in general and BlackTheatre, in particular.  Over the years, she has volunteered and provided professional services for groups that include Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre, Take Wing and Soar Productions, Rhythm Color Associates, SweetPea Producers, Harlem Week, ImageNation, AUDELCO and more. LaZette currently serves as the Director of Volunteer Services for Take Wing and Soar Productions (TWAS). She has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation and the AUDELCO Board of Directors Award for Tireless & Consistent performance as a Volunteer to Black Theatre.  LaZette continues to volunteer and consult with Arts and Culture and Community Service organizations. Over the past year, she has begun to develop a group called Volunteer Divas Plus – Volunteers for Arts & Culture and Community. The group includes theatre lovers, actors, producers, playwrights and students. Her goal is to look for ways to be involved and perpetuate the spirit of volunteerism while passing on skills, knowledge, commitment and experience to theatre in general and Classical and Black Theatre in particular.


NEW HERITAGE THEATRE GROUP | VOZA RIVERS [Executive Producer] is the oldest Black nonprofit theater company in New York City. NHTG was originally established in 1964 under the name New Heritage Repertory Theatre by the late Roger Furman, a revered playwright, director, actor and lecturer who began his career in the 1940s with the American Negro Theatre in Harlem. It was created to present entertaining, informative and quality productions and to preserve and institutionalize classic works of Black theatre. In 1983, Voza Rivers, an award winning music and theatre producer took over the company.  Today, New Heritage Theatre Group serves the community through presentations of entertaining, informative and quality productions of performing arts events, stage readings, and documentary shorts and films. Through its umbrella organizations Impact Repertory Theatre, Furman Theatre Rep and New Heritage Films we outreach to the New York City and world community, giving training, exposure and experience to new and emerging artists. Our works reflect the historical, social, and political experiences of African and Latino descendants in America and abroad. We seek to bring attention to works by international writers, directors and performing artists who have achieved success in their respective country but lack exposure in the United States.


TAKE WING AND SOAR PRODUCTIONS, INC | DEBRA ANN BYRD [Producer | General Manager] founded in 1999 by classically trained actress Debra Ann Byrd, is a women-led, New York State, 501(c) 3 Professional Theatre Arts Corporation, dedicated to supporting women, youth & especially classically trained actors of color.  In its brief history, Take Wing And Soar Productions has enjoyed many successes including the creation of The TWAS Theatre Project, The TWAS Classical Lab Reading Series, The Take Wing And Soar “Spirit of Excellence Awards” & the Hackney Harlem International Youth Project. The theatre company is the 2009-2010 recipient of the LPTW Lucille Lortel Award, presented in recognition of the theatre’s body of work in the community, audience development in Harlem – and in celebration of the “International Exchange Program” between Take Wing And Soar Productions & London’s Hackney Empire Theatre. Other honors include 5 AUDELCO Awards & 19 AUDELCO Award nominations for its mainstage productions of Richard III, The Darker Face of the Earth, Hamlet, Medea, King Lear & Pecong.  Saviour? Is TWAS’ thirtieth production & ninth main stage project.  For more information about TWAS Inc. visit us online at www.takewingandsoar.org


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