Chef Aryen Moore-Alston & EURweb’s LaRita Shelby at Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis 2014 Photo: Ronnie Booze
*The Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis (WTFM) wrapped its 2nd biennial event earlier this month when the city hosted over 30 plays, workshops and performances from around the globe.
Event highlights included: The Gyneka Awards Gala in which 6 women and Two-Time Tony Award winner Pat Halloran were honored for their contributions to the world of theatre.
Highlights also included performances of A Box of Yellow Stars written by Natalie Parker-Lawrence and directed by Lorraine Cotten; a reading of BAGS: Adventures of Black Women Over 40, written and directed by Dr. Nancy Dawson; Celeste Bedford Walker’s Camp Logan, directed by Ron Gephart; Waiting Women written by Silvia Gonzales and directed by Patricia Smith and Bijou’s Secret written and performed by Fiona Stewart and accompanied by Julius Schwing from Australia. The Tennessee Arts Commission, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, FedEx, Toyota and IMAN Cosmetics were the event’s major sponsors, along with support from many others.
WTFM Visionary Founder (Actress, Writer & Producer) Ruby O’Gray and Executive Producer (Event Planner, Communications & Marketing Expert) Karen Moore are beloved artisans in the Memphis community, and such love was demonstrated by the team effort that surrounded this historic event.
WTFM Producers L-R: Tawanna French, Sherronda Johnson, Olivia Johnson, Karen Moore, Ruby O’Gray (center) Photo by Ronnie Booze
IMAN Cosmetics’ Cynthia Dones and Melanie Clark journeyed to Memphis to personally recruit & train makeup artists and oversee IMAN’s participation in this culturally enriching event that brought together performers, playwrights, spoken word artists, dancers, theater owners, managers, designers and technicians. Attendees were treated to IMAN Luxury Lipstick samples and performers graced the stage in makeup, courtesy of IMAN Cosmetics.
The cast of BAGS: Adventures of Black Women Over 40 by Dr. Nancy Dawson enjoy samples of IMAN’s Luxury Lipstick collection at the 2014 Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis. Photo by SB Media
EURweb’s LaRita “Jazzy Rita” Shelby received the First Honorary Chair Award at The Gyneka Awards Gala, which kicked off the festival on Thursday night, August 7, 2014. Jazzy Rita even performed a number choreographed by Cerise Johns, who has directed, performed and choreographed around the globe with the Ellington Orchestra, Donny McClurkin, CeCe Winans and more.
Anika Isom, Jazzy Rita Shelby, Herronda Harley perform “On Broadway” choreographed by Cerise Johns. Photo by Ronnie Booze
Other festival performers included former WTFM Producer & Food Network Star contestant Chef Aryen Moore-Alston, Lila Hood, Aisha Raison, Emma Crystal, Jennifer F. Jones and Lenora Greene who gave a riveting rendition of Sophisticated Lady.
Opera star Lenora Greene performs at the 2014 WTFM
Among the stellar line up of workshop contributors were Erma Elzy Jones(The Parkers, Girlfriends, Moesha), Gloria Baxter (The University of Memphis), Lisa Lax (Lisa Lax Agency), Whitney Jo & Courtney Oliver (Playhouse On The Square), Debbie Litch (Theatre Memphis), Jayme Stokes (New Ballet School & Ensemble), Terran Gary (Subroy Dance Studios) and Luciana Laury (Salsa Memphis).
EURweb.com was the event’s media partner, along with generous support from local media in Memphis and the Mid South. The Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis also wishes to add special thanks to Trust Marketing, MG Ballard Designs, Rebecca Powell, Sherronda Johnson, Author Jae Henderson, Olivia Johnson,The Circuit Playhouse, Playhouse on the Square, Hattiloo Theatre, TheatreWorks, Theatre Memphis, Ballet Memphis, Women of Style, Spirit and Success, Inc. and Opera Memphis for their participation in making this year’s event a success. The 2014 WTFM even received recognition from The Honorable A C Wharton, Mayor of the City of Memphis, U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen and the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP. Much appreciation is extended one and all! For more info and updates on the next Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis visit www.womenstheatrefestivalofmemphis.org.
Ronnie Booze, photographer