Dan Friedman's "Ain't Never Been Easy"

Plays to Full Houses at Castillo

Directed by Allie Woods, the production featured Ashleigh Awusie, Jamar Brathwaite, Lisa Campbell, Kendra Holloway, Cassagnol Leonidas, Jr., Zac Pierce-Messick, Justin Thomas and Michele Q. Williams. The design team: Kerry Gibbons, David Levitt, KJ Kim, Bill Toles, David Belmont and Michael Walsh. Lindsay Bleile stage managed.  The show ran from October  21 through November 20, 2016 and the houses were packed!

2016 Otto René Castillo Awards

for Political Theatre Celebrated

The 18th annual Otto René Castillo Awards for Political Theatre were presented to Kia Corthron, an African American playwright, activist, television writer and novelist. Her work has been commissioned and performed across the U.S. and United Kingdom, and explores a wide range of themes including land mines, female gangs, capital punishment, youth violence and disability; Emily Mann, a multi-award winning playwright and director, and the artistic director of the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J. She has produced works on African-American themes, as well as the impact of war, identity, justice and inequality in society; The Theater Offensive, a Boston-based theater company whose mission is to present the diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives in art. They bring shows, events and gatherings to local organizations, schools and the streets to support a diverse, inclusive queer-positive presence in Boston; and Teatro La Candelaria, founded in 1966 by a group of independent artists and intellectuals from the nascent independent experimental theater and cultural movement in Bogotá, Colombia. They have been a voice of opposition to authoritarian power, and its subsequent violence and repression, for several generations.


All Stars Bowl-a-thon 2016

Once again, All Stars volunteers and supporters came out to raise money for our young people and their communities-- and to have a great time doing it! Strikes, spares and gutter-balls were all applauded and fundraising goals were met. Bowl-a-thon 2017 is coming of course next summer and it is not too early to start putting together your team. Details to follow!

Munich-New York Collaboration

"Even Under Bitterness" at Castillo

The warmly political and always moving poems of Otto René Castillo, the Guatemalan poet and revolutionary, were passionately performed by the talented cast of Madelyn Chapman, Gabi Heller and Olivia Luna in Even Under Bitterness, a multi-media collaboration between the Castillo Theatre and Munich-based director Hans Melzer. The actors were joined onstage by musicians Michael Arman, David Belmont and Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi. This, the American premiere, was performed at Castillo May 6 – 15, 2016. 

Read the New York Theatre Wire review by Beate Hein Bennett here.

NFT Alum Washington Applauds Baraka's

"Most Dangerous Man" at Castillo

It was the closing weekend of a sold-out run of Most Dangerous Man in America (W.E.B. DuBois), the powerful play about the final years of the activist and scholar W.E.B. DuBois, a New Federal Theatre production in association with the Castillo Theatre. Among the audience was Denzel Washington, a New Federal Theatre alumnus and long-time friend of NFT's Producing Director Woodie King, Jr. After the performance, actors Art McFarland and Petronia Paley were joined by Mr. Washington, flanked by All Stars founder Dr. Lenora Fulani, Castillo Artistic Director Dan Friedman and All Stars New York Director of Programs Diane Stiles.


2015 All Stars Talented Volunteers

Bowlathon Exceeds Goals!

The annual Bowlathon was a beautiful mix of All Stars youth leaders, donors, friends, and family. Volunteers collectively raised $21,671 for All Stars Project youth programs-- and checks are still coming in! A great time was had.  Thanks again to everyone who made this event such a success!






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Sold out Run for “Zora Neale Hurston”

Laurence Holder's dramatic biographical play, directed by Woodie King Jr., played to full and enthusiastic audiences throughout its fall run. The production, by the New Federal Theatre in association with Castillo, chronicled Hurston’s extraordinary life. A brilliant and independent woman from an all-Black Florida township, she became one of the most prolific African American writers of the 20's and 30’s, known as "The Queen of the Harlem Renaissance." She was a controversial individual whose strong opinions both angered and inspired her contemporaries and later generations of young Black writers.

Holder's play is set in Eatonville, Florida as a 70-year old looks back on her extraordinary life. The Harlem Renaissance and the  jazz age, Jim Crow and white liberal "sponsors"... the play revisits the music, the people, and most importantly the politics that shaped America then and now.

In the words of reviewer Constance Rodgers, "Zora Neale Hurston was authentic and beautiful. Elizabeth Van Dyke as Zora Neale Hurston is authentic and beautiful. Van Dyke inhabits Hurston in all her personas. When Van Dyke tells a story, a folktale, she becomes Zora. You feel you are at the party watching and listening to Hurston become all the characters in the tale; man, woman, God, the devil. Van Dyke also shows us Zora’s vulnerability, her intelligence and her joy."

Read the full review here.

On January 27, 2017 the play will be presented at The Zora Neale Hurston Festival in Orlando, Florida.

Performing Fred Newman:

Scenes, Songs, and Of Course, Waffles

The 5th annual celebration of the life and work of Castillo's late founder and long time artistic director Fred Newman was held at the theatre Friday June 10th. Scenes from Newman plays were performed by ensembles cast on the spot; songs from Newman/Roboff musicals were sung; waffles were prepared and served by Castillo's associate managing director John Rankin III and his fabulous team of volunteer cooks.


"Votes" Extended Through May 22!

Votes questions the nature of feminism, of power and of the political game itself.  By turns dramatic and comedic, Votes draws on a 1999 musical The Last Temptation of William Jefferson, written in the wake of the infamous Monica Lewinsky scandal by Castillo’s late artistic director, Fred Newman and Grammy-nominated composer Annie Roboff. Seventeen years later, Jacqueline S. Salit takes Temptation and wraps a new story around it, examining the political and personal conflicts of the famous First Couple.  

Given the strong audience response, the show's run has been extended through May 22, 2016.

Take a look at this review... and this one... and this one...


2015 Otto René Castillo Awards for

Political Theatre Celebrated May 17th

The 17th annual Otto René Castillo Awards for Political Theatre were celebrated at the Castillo Theatre on May 17, honoring the awardees...

Bond Street Theatre has been creating innovative theatre works that cross cultural borders and illuminate social issues since 1976. Their goal is to promote peace and understanding by collaborating with theatre artists worldwide and initiating community-based arts projects. Bond Street explores the relevance of the arts in areas of conflict and poverty, with a special focus on refugees, women and youth, and advocates for artists as powerful spokespersons for their communities. The company has created theatre projects for conflict resolution, healing and empowerment in more than 30 counties worldwide, with current projects in Afghanistan, Myanmar and Kenya.

Michael Rohd is founding artistic director of the award-winning national ensemble-based Sojourn Theatre. He devises, directs and collaborates on cross-sector projects around the nation, is on faculty at Northwestern University, wrote the widely translated book Theatre for Community, Conflict, and Dialogue, and leads the Center for Performance and Civic Practice

Carlton and Maurice Turner together founded M.U.G.A.B.E.E. (Men Under Guidance Acting Before Early Extinction) in the late 1990s, a flexible ensemble focused on collaborative creation in communities. Based in Mississippi, the Turner brothers are artists, arts educators and cultural organizers who use the performing arts to help young people empower themselves and facilitate conversations about the role of art and culture in the broader struggles of our society.



Newark Mayor Ras Baraka at Castillo

for Most Dangerous Man in America

(June 13, 2015) From left to right, actors Art McFarland and Petronia Paley, Mayor Baraka, director Woodie King, Jr., and Diane Stiles of Castillo Theatre. Most Dangerous Man in America (W.E.B DuBois) continues to draw full houses and rave reviews from audience members and critics alike.

Castillo House Staff: A Proud Performance!

The house staff volunteers of the Castillo Theatre handled the sell-out crowds of our most recent show in stride, continuing to live up to their reputation as being of "the highest caliber I have experienced at any theater-- including Broadway theater" (Review by G.S. Bowen of Manhattan Neighborhood Network). Pictured left to right on the closing weekend of Most Dangerous Man in America (W.E.B. DuBois) are Janetta King, Tanya Rosado, Sarah Goode, Faith Vann, Betsy Cruz, Bernadene Weekes, Jorge Bolano, Jennifer Engstler, James Dickson and Dianne Finn.