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Producer Woodie King Jr :"The Impact of Race": Theater;'s Present and Future

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Woodie King Jr. essayist, short-story writer, anthologist, dramatist, scriptwriter for film and television, producer, director, actor, and contributor to the Black Arts movement. He attended Michigan's Will-O-Way School of the Theatre on scholarship from 1958 to 1962, studying every element of the theater while immersing himself in black literature. Both at Will-O-Way and at Wayne State University and the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts, where he did postgraduate study in theater, King lamented the lack of acting opportunities for blacks and, with Ron Milner, cofounded the Concept-East Theatre. As its manager and director from 1960 to 1963, King staged plays by white and black playwrights, including Milner's, eventually exchanging the middle class for a neighborhood audience to the enlivenment of the productions.After producing in 1969 Black Quartet, four one-act plays by Black Arts movement dramatists (including Ron Milner), King founded the New Federal Theatre in 1970. Serving as showcase and inspiration for new black plays, the New Federal Theatre also welcomed works by other ethnic writers. In the 1970s, King edited several landmark anthologies, including Black Drama Anthology (coedited with Ron Milner), Black Short Story Anthology (containing his story “The Game”), and Black Poets and Prophets: The Theory, Practice and Esthetics of the Pan-Africanist Revolution (coedited with Earl Anthony). King has also produced, directed, and written several films, including The Long Night (based on Julian Mayfield's 1975 novel) and The Black Theatre Movement: “A Raisin in the Sun” to the Present, and scripted teleplays for “Sanford and Son”. A collection of his essays on Black Theater: Present Condition was published in 1981. A multitalented man, King has greatly aided the development of contemporary black theater, both through his writings and encouragement of black dramatists widely varied in political and social viewpoints.

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