SEASON 25 - 2018
Towne Street Theatre 25th Anniversary Gala Celebration
Towne Street Theatre, Los Angeles’ Premiere African American theatre, is celebrating 25 years of producing award-winning productions. From our first staged reading series, “The Play’s the Thing”, to our amazing productions and readings, to our currently running multi-authored show, IN RESPONSE: Year of the Woman, TST continues to raise the bar in reflecting the African American experience and perspective.
We reached this 25 year milestone with plenty of help from a network of supporters. During this celebration, we will honor and acknowledge five special people and an organization that have been with us over the years.
The Gala is also an opportunity to gather and thank our company members, friends, family and audience members for their ongoing support.
The evening will include great food from Back to the Kitchen Catering, live entertainment by TST’s very own Isabel Smith and her band, Strada Swing, as well as special performances from a few other TST "Kids," Christine Crosby and Joshua Boyd Williams. There will also be some surprises and special guests in attendance.
TST Sponsorship Opportunities Are Available!
Download the Packet for more information.
We look forward to seeing you on November 10th as we commemorate 25 years of bringing art and culture to our community.
Meet the Honorees!
Click the photos for bios.
A Celebration 25 years in the making!
November 10, 2018
@ 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Museum of African
American Art (MAAA)
4005 Crenshaw Blvd., 3rd floor
Macy’s Department Store
Los Angeles, CA 90008
View the main event page!
Artist / Designer
Nathaniel Bellamy, Co-Founder of TST, Production Designer and Producer, is a true Renaissance man, Nathaniel is an artist, photographer, film editor and covers the gamut in Production Design with set, sound projection and lighting design. His designs have been on display throughout every show of TST’s 25 year history, and he was nominated for an NAACP Lighting Design Award for Passing twice.
Mr. Bellamy’s photography has been on exhibition at the Louis Stern Galleries in Beverly Hills, Komm Gallery in Nuremberg, Germany. Los Angeles Museum for Afro-American History and Culture, The Museum of African American Art, Desmond Gallery, Sabina Lee Gallery, Cafe Gallery, Westmount College’s Reynold Gallery in Santa Barbara, William Reagh Los Angeles Photography, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery,The Spring Street Gallery, Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park, Bel-ami Studios, Black Photographers of California, William Grant Still Community Arts Center, Photo Impact, Inc., Watts Towers, The Los Angeles Theater Center, Kenosha Museum, Paine Art Center, Portrait of America - Smithsonian Museum and Festac77 in Lagos, Nigeria and he is published In the Life in a Day of Black L.A ... THE WAY WE SEE IT. His work has appeared in the Calendar Section of the Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine, Ebony Magazine, Premier Movie Magazine, Players Magazine, Connoisseur Magazine, Los Angeles Herald, DramaLogue, Variety, Backstage West and the Downtown News. He has also done production and commercial stills for such projects as Wild Palms, (Oliver Stone's television mini series), Robert Townsend's Hollywood Shuffle, Tap with Gregory Hines and The Rhyming Zoo with Meshak Taylor.
Two years after the sudden passing of her husband, Roland Charles, a well known photography artist who owned a photography gallery in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, Deborah Charles set out to discover her passion and pursue it with the hope she would heal from the grief of losing the love of her life.
The journey led her to continue sharing her husband’s legacy as a prolific photography artist and promoter of photography as true art form. For the past 16 years Deborah has curated and co-curated more than 25 exhibitions of her late husbands photography art at venues that include:
Museum of African American Art M. Hanks Gallery, Santa Monica, CA Southwest Community College Art Gallery Mt. San Antonio Community College Federal Bureau of Investigation Black History Month Observance Art Show Mike Curb Art Gallery at California State University, Northridge
Deborah curated an exhibition for the Museum of African American Art, February 2018 titled The Civil Rights Movement: Los Angeles to Selma.
In addition to exhibitions, Deborah co-published a photography and poetry book titled Haiku In My Neighborhood; photography by Roland Charles and haiku poetry by singer-songwriter, Dee Dee McNeil; Deborah also authored and published a book titled “My Walks With Bentley”.
Deborah’s mantra: “I am a piece of the earth, molded into love, tossed into the world to serve my dreams and others…”.
Actor / Activist
FELTON PERRY, an accomplished veteran actor, has a distinguished career in theater, television and film. His career in television dates back to the mid-nineteen sixties when he appeared in a couple of live television shows for the Chicago PBS station WTTW. He made his first movie appearance in MEDIUM COOL, and he came to national attention in the fact-based WALKING TALL. Among Felton's other wide screen appearances are key roles in MAGNUM FORCE, TOWERING INFERNO, DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS, ROBOCOP I, II & III, WEEDS, TALENT FOR THE GAME, and CHECKING OUT. He co-starred in "Derby" an ABC-TV Movie of The Week shot on location in South Africa. Among his many t.v. roles, Felton was a regular on the innovative series HOOPERMAN, had recurring character roles in THE FRESH PRINCE OF BELAIR, and HANGIN' WITH MR. COOPER, guest-starred in STRONG MEDICINE, WEST WING, NYPD BLUE, and JUDGING AMY.
Raised in Chicago, Felton dropped out of high school at the age of 16 without, and joined the U.S. Marines. Four years later he emerged as a sergeant with an honorable discharge, and a high school diploma - while on active duty he passed the G.E.D. exam. Back in Chicago, he was accepted as a probationary student at Wilson Junior College where he played baseball, and hung out with students from the drama department while working fulltime. He won an academic scholarship to Roosevelt University in the Windy City, and got a Bachelors Degree. Shortly, after graduating, he was called by a friend to read for a role in a local production. He got more than just the role. He got the leading part, and was hooked. While attending graduate school at the University of Chicago where he had completed all his course work requirements for his Masters Degree, he got a call to join the Second City Touring Company. He grabbed the opportunity, and a year later, he won a starring role in MACBIRD at Chicago's Candlelight Dinner Theater. Felton's experience as a theatrical producer goes back three decades to while he was still in his hometown, Chicago. In 1968, he co-produced a summer Street Theater Touring Company for the City of Chicago, and in 1969, he co-founded well-known theatre group, EX-BAG, which mounted many successful productions.
Shortly thereafter, Felton relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a film career. Migrating to Los Angeles in 1970, Felton enrolled in the Open Door Writer Program offered by the Writer's Guild of America, west, and in 1972 received an award for his screenplay "If I Die At Home". The same year, he was hired to write an episode for the very popular "Ironsides" series. In 1973 he produced the World Premiere of "OR" his own play which was acclaimed by the critics. FELTON PERRY 2. In 1975, he helped organize One Flight Up, a theatre group which although short-lived produced an impressive number of plays, among them "buy the bi and bye" Felton's second play which was picked up and produced by the Los Angeles Actors Theatre to great critical notice. In 1980, he produced his musical comedy "SLEEP NO MORE" which garnered favorable critical notice, and went on to subsequent productions by the Inner City Cultural Center, and the Shakespeare Society of Los Angeles whose production earned awards from the Beverly Hills NAACP and Dramalogue. He has also produced an improvisational comedy group, and plays by other playwrights.
In 1986, Felton launched YAY Productions dedicated to supporting and nurturing playwrights, providing a showcase for local acting talent, and being a conduit to connect stageplays with established and new producers so that they may move from reading to workshop to full production. He sponsored a series of playreadings every Saturday morning which ran from 1988 through 1991. Over 65 new plays were read, from which a select few were presented for two weekends of staged readings in the Spring of 1990.
A card-carrying actor now for over 30 years, Felton is the kind of actor that a lot of people have seen, but don't know his name. He speaks to students in different schools. One of the things that they ask him is 'What is your favorite disease?' because they see actors on television raising money for different diseases. Actors get identified with diseases. Felton always answers, 'Education. I'm a carrier and I want to infect everyone. I just feel that strongly about education.' Since February 1991, Felton has been volunteering two afternoons a week teaching performing skills to students of the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center. In 1992, they toured with a short play he wrote titled, "DON'T TELL MAMA" to several alternative LAUSD high schools. The tour culminated with a performance for a national conference of Psychologists.
He was an original member of the ATAS Directing Repertory Group. During that time he directed several short scenarios utilizing the acting talent of professionals in the business. In 1993, he taped a scenario from "DON'T TELL MAMA" using his students as the actors, and working behind the camera with the Directing Repertory Group members who were more than willing to share their experience with them. The entire experience was exciting, exhilarating and gratifying for all involved.
FELTON PERRY 3. Channel Two Newswoman Linda Alvarez aired a story describing the volunteer work Felton did with the students which aired on CBS-TV Prime Time News.
His most recent stage appearances were as Adolf in the critically acclaimed and award_winning TASSLA production of August Strindberg's "The Father" at the McCadden Place Theatre June and July 2000. Before that he performed in concert readings of the play during the 1998 August Strindberg Festival held in Stockholm, Sweden. He read the role of Joe Mott in concert readings of Eugene O'Neil's "The Iceman Cometh" with Al Pacino. He played Polonius in The San Diego Repertory production of "Hamlet", and before that he reprised the role of Martin Luther King in the critically acclaimed Los Angeles and New York productions of the "The Meeting". He played Bert Williams in "Nobody", Pops in "Full Court Press", and Leon Becker in "Ritual".
Since November 1997, he has been teaching 4 mornings a week at the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center in Watts.
He is a member of Actor's Equity, Screen Actor's Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and The Dramatist Guild, and was an Independent Producer member of Theatre LA.
He is a member of The Actor's Studio.
Barbara White Morgan
Barbara White Morgan is a founding member of the Towne Street Theatre Company and is honored to be selected as an honoree at this milestone anniversary.
Barbara is very grateful for the creative collaboration with Towne Street, especially since there are so few African American theatre companies still in existence.
The playwright stresses the importance of being a member of the company. “Towne Street provides the luxury of trying out new work and the creative validation when the work is produced.”
The Dance Begins When the Waltz Goes Backwards was Barbara’s first play produced by the theatre when the company’s plays were performed in a loft on Towne Street in Downtown LA.
Other Towne Street productions by Barbara White Morgan include: An American Tract Digital Natives Babblerousers 1969 Emma Claudine ( A short piece included in the 2016 IN RESPONSE PRODUCTION A Mother’s Lament, a short scene from Crawdaddy was performed in the IN RESPONSE 2 Production.
Staged Readings include: Derivatives Daily Entries Crawdaddy
AWARDS They Need a Porter At The Chase Hotel - Best Screenplay Writers Guild Open Door Writing Program, 1972 An American Tract - Finalist McDonalds/Negro Ensemble Company Literacy Achievement Award, 1990
Barbara is currently working on the screenplay based on 1969.
Creative Career Specialist & Cultural Experience Curator
Elena Muslar is the Assistant Director of Entertainment and Fine Arts Professions in the office of Career and Professional Development at Loyola Marymount University. Through one-on-one career advisement, employer engagement, workshop facilitation, and the coordination of industry events, she works to enrich students in the College of Communication and Fine Arts, the School of Film and Television, and other clients in pursuit of creative careers.
Her passions intersect at a crossroads between cultural equity, creative balance, and arts entrepreneurship. Elena holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre (with minors in Dance, African-American Studies, and an emphasis in Education) from Loyola Marymount University along with a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Management & Producing from CalArts. She has been committed to working with non-profit arts & culture organizations throughout her career and has professional affiliations with Arts for LA, Center Theatre Group, the Dance Resource Center, Get Lit-Words Ignite, the Hewlett Foundation, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the Music Center, the Skirball Cultural Center, Theatre Bay Area, Towne Street Theatre, the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She is on the Advisory Board for Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles, a member of WOCA – Women of Color in the Arts, and was in the first cohort of the California Presenters’ Next-Gen Leadership Diversity Program. As an Advisory Committee Member for the Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, through the LA County Arts Commission, Elena received a commendation from the LA County Board of Supervisors for her dedication to community affairs and civic pride. She has published articles through Americans for the Arts, Western Arts Alliance, and HowlRound focusing on unpacking diversity in arts administration and outreach to diverse audiences. Her producing credits include over 25 theatre and multidisciplinary programs. Elena also celebrates her own creative pursuits through modeling and spoken word. Ultimately, it's the creativity that is at the heart of every experience she supports, develops, or energizes! www.elenamuslar.com
Community Arts Organization at St. Elmo's Village
When you enter Roderick Sykes’ home in Los Angeles’ St Elmo Village, you are immediately confronted with who he is – a gifted painter, photographer, and co-creator of an amazing art center / residence / garden space. Every wall, door, and enclave is an unexpected feast of photographs, bold colors on canvas and sculpture which give testimony to the concept that Roderick lives by...that art is an intricate part of everyday life. “Creativity makes you aware of your power and strengths as a person. It’s a tool to self awareness and the very act is joy.”
Upon arriving in Los Angeles in 1964, Roderick was pressed to support himself and his young family. Unemployed, he hit the streets armed with his paintings. His pastime soon became his love when he began selling his paintings with steady interest and increasing frequency.
Roderick quickly became a recognized and acclaimed artist throughout California. Numerous on-going exhibitions and murals throughout California in all genres include the 1984 Olympics, the Social and Public Art Resource Center, A&M Records, Pacific Telephone Company, Mount Vernon Middle School, Carthay Circle Elementary School, Alta Loma Elementary School, The Governor’s Black Art show, Cedar Sinai Medical Center, and the Wilshire Police Station.
“Everyone is an artist. Everyone has the ability to create. What my life is about is sharing the creative process.” As a co-founder, board member, and resident of St Elmo Village – an inner city arts center that has been the recipient of many grants from The Getty – Roderick practices what he preaches by supervising workshops in painting, photography, drawing, and African drumming.
Not only is he a “hands on” instructor, Roderick is often called upon as a public speaker. He believes that it is “important to take responsibility for one’s life and not waiting for others”. With that commitment in mind he continues to give of himself through lecturing on the artistic process as well as the idea of creativity as a way of life. On tours of St Elmo Village Roderick has been overheard saying, “Creativity is a tool for building self awareness. The very act of creating is a profound joy. It is with great joy and pride that I share with you the spirit of people meeting in an atmosphere of creativity. Welcome to St Elmo Village.”
For more than 50 years Roderick Sykes has been involved in the creative process and sharing it with the community. From elementary schools to colleges to senior centers he has shared this process through public speaking, workshops in photography, painting, mural making, and sculpture. Roderick’s philosophy is, “Do what you love and love what you do”.
Community Arts Organization at St. Elmo's Village
“Creating is my centering and my focus”, says JACQUELINE ALEXANDER-SYKES, a multi-talented artist who utilizes color, shape and perspective to create striking forms figures and landscapes. Her pallet includes working with acrylic, oils, watercolor and 35mm camera.
Within the past 30 years Jacqueline has found her voice in the creative process, a voice that speaks eloquently through painting, photography and other creative endeavors. After receiving her Bachelors of Arts degree in Art History from San Jose State University, Jacqueline traveled to Africa and studied in Ghana during the summer of 1974. A few of her many accomplishments are, the design of a mural located on Venice Boulevard (across from the Helms Bakery building), and a published photograph in a book entitled “Black Women for Beginners” by S. Pearl Sharp. She has also been included in several recent exhibitions at the Los Angeles Photography Center, Art-n-Barbee, The Watts Towers Art Center, the California Afro American Museum at Exposition Park and Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery Barnsdall Park.
Since 1979 Jacqueline has lived and worked at St. Elmo Village, in Mid City Los Angeles. The Village has been an avenue for Jacqueline to share and teach the process of creativity to others as well as being a place of creativity where she can explore and develop as an artist and exhibit her work. For the past six years her work with youth has extended to be a Discussion Leader for the Getty Multicultural Internship Program, in which college interns are mentored. As a Board of Directors Member and Administrative Director of St. Elmo Village, Jacqueline has been an important part of the day to day work that the Village accomplishes in the community.
As a visual artist Jacqueline Alexander-Sykes continues to develop by borrowing from and recreating the “material” that life has to offer. Recently she has partnered with her husband, Roderick Sykes to paint two of the Los Angeles City Angels. In 2000 she painted two panels for the CRA/TNI (Community Redevelopment Agency / Targeted Neighborhood Initiative) that have been installed at Alta Loma Elementary School. Among her other public art commissions are art for the Junipero Serra Branch Library as part of the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, Public Art Program, creating art for the walls of Raymond Avenue Elementary School and producing three painted panels for Good Beginnings Pre School. The most resent mural was painted for Walter N. Marks Realty Inc. on the Helms Bakery property.
Jacqueline considers painting and photography to be her “Third Eye”. All of life is a picture to be captured and enjoyed.