The Billie Holiday Theatre, Inc. (BHT) was founded in 1972 by Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration), a community development corporation whose mission is to be a catalyst for the progressive improvement of the quality of life for the people of Bedford Stuyvesant.

The AUDELCO and Obie Award-winning Billie Holiday Theatre is artistic anchor to the largest African American community in the nation: Central Brooklyn and one of the last remaining theaters forged in the aesthetic and sociocultural kiln of America’s Civil Rights/Black Arts Movements. Founded in May 1972 by Restoration, The Billie Holiday Theatre is a beacon for world class art rooted in racial justice in the heart of Bed-Stuy: producing, presenting, and commissioning new and classic works and festivals in theater, dance, music, visual arts, and film; providing artistic and institutional residencies; and serving ages 3 to 103 with educational programming. For bold and daring artists and audiences from around the corner and around the world who look to The Billie as a rigorous artistic space that tackles racial injustices, presents new and unapologetic voices, and imagines a world where all people can flourish…welcome home.

ENGINEERING POSITIVE TRANSFORMATION

BHT strives to do its part by producing three mainstage productions each season along with special programming such as new play readings and developmental productions, acting and playwriting classes for kids, theatre workshops for seniors, a film series, and panel discussions on topics relevant to the community.

The Billie Holiday Theatre strives to produce and present productions and programs so dynamic in their relevance, content, and connection to our community that a positive transformation begs to take place.

OUR HISTORY

In 1981, BHT made history when it transferred the hit play Inacent Black to Broadway with fifty percent of the financing being derived from the Black community; a first in the theatre world (as cited in The New York Times), and unheard of prior to Inacent Black.

THE BIRTHPLACE OF SUCCESS

Many of today’s successful actors, writers, designers, and musicians developed their craft at The Billie Holiday Theatre. Actors such as Samuel L. Jackson, Debbie Allen, Tichina Arnold, Bill Cobbs, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Carol Woods, Elaine Graham and Ebony JoAnn to name but a few. The great political satirist/comic, Dick Gregory made his theatrical comeback after twenty years on the BHT stage, and audiences were also treated to the reunion of Good Times stars Ralph Carter and John Amos.

The legendary William “Smokey” Robinson had his first musical, Raisin’ Hell, produced at BHT, while other notable authors whose debut plays were produced at BHT include: Samm Art Williams (long before his Tony Award nominated play, Home), legendary jazz musician Weldon Irvine (lyricist for the classic anthem “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”), and John Henry Redwood (The Old Settler). Musicians Victor Willis and Alex Briley met and performed at BHT eight months prior to forming The Village People, and Grammy Award winning bassist and producer extraordinaire Marcus Miller performed in the BHT pit band.

 

MEET THE BILLIE HOLIDAY THEATRE TEAM

Wayne Winborne
Board Chair, The Billie
Executive Director, Institute of Jazz Studies

 

Colvin GrannumVice-Chair, Board of Directors, The Billie
President and CEO, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

 

 

Antonia Yuille WilliamsTreasurer, Board of Directors, The Billie
Director of Public Affairs, Brooklyn Division Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc.

Depelsha McGruderDirector, Board of Directors, The Billie
Chief Operating Officer, Ford Foundation

Indira EtwarooExecutive Artistic Director, The Billie

THE BILLIE REIMAGINING ADVISORY COMMITTEE 

Pauletta Pearson Washington, Co-Chair, Actress and Philanthropist
Antonia Yuillie Williams, Co-Chair, Director of Public Affairs, Brooklyn Division Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc.
Cey Adams, Internationally renowned creative director and visual artist
Camille Brown, Tony Award-nominated choreographer
Karen Brooks Hopkins, President Emerita, Brooklyn Academy of Music; Jerome L Greene Foundation Board Member; Senior Advisor to the Onassis Foundation
Stephen Byrd, Co-Founder, Front Row Productions; 2019 Broadway Global Producer of the Year
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Award-winning actor, professor, and leading expert on August Wilson
Tonya Lewis Lee, American film and television producer, author, entrepreneur and advocate for women
Dawnn Lewis, Award-winning TV, film and Broadway actress, as well as founder of non-profit for youth empowerment
Kamilah Long, Interim Senior Director of Individual Giving & Development Operations, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Kerry McCarthy, Vice President for Philanthropic Initiatives, The New York Community Trust, Mosaic Network and Fund
Dafina McMillan, Co-founder Crux VR
Lynne Nottage, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright
Fiona Rudin, Board Chair, 42nd Street Theaters
Lauren Ruffin, Co-founder Crux VR; nonprofit and for-profit policy, marketing, business development, and strategic planning expert
Carl Hancock Rux, Brooklyn-based, award-winning writer and performance artist
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Tony Award-winning Director, leading August Wilson interpreter
Michele Shay, Tony Award-winning actor and director; Professor at NYU, Juilliard, and Columbia
Mikki Shepard, Chairman of the Board, Mertz Gilmore Foundation; Tony Award Nominating Committee (2018-19)
Laura Walker, Former President & CEO, New York Public Radio; Executive Fellow, Yale School of Management
Wendell Pierce, Actor & producer; founder, Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corporation

 

 

THE BILLIE HOLIDAY THEATRE TEAM

Artistic and Executive Director | Dr. Indira Etwaroo
Managing Director | Jelani Buckner
Creative Director | Hollis King
General Manager | Sabine LaFortune
Acting Director of Education | Chris Berry
Development Leads | Meg Tansey, Karen Spolar
Director of Finance | Martha Samuel
Pre-Professional Training Program Directors | Ronald K. Brown, Arcell Cabuag
Development Associate and Executive Assistant | Karlvy Smith
Public Relations Lead | Nina Flowers
Community Connections Manager | Edna Fulton
Programming Associate| Rama Lindsey-Orleans
Youth Arts Academy Program Manager | Karen Thornton
Marketing Lead | Barbara Bullard
Production Coordinator | Charnae Betton
Administrative Coordinator | Shevron Goffe

CHOREOGRAPHERS, FACULTY& GUEST INSTRUCTORS
Contemporary I | Ronald K.Brown, Arcell Cabuag
Ballet I | Courtney Cochran, Elena Comendador, Briana Reed, Angelique Smith
Ballet Accompanist I | Marc Dimillo
Drama I | Lekethia Dalcoe
Graham & Horton I | Aqura Lacey
Hip Hop I | Shayla Caldwell
Horton Modern Contemporary I | Freddie Moore
Modern I | Hollie Wright
West African (Guinea) I | Karen Thornton
West African (Sabar) I | Mama Andara, Brother Ramon Rahman, Baba Wali
West African Accompanist I | Brother Talu Green

ART INSTITUTIONS-IN-RESIDENCE
Black Arts Institute in partnership with Stella Adler Studio of Acting
Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop
Ronald K. Brown/Evidence: A Dance Company
Noel Pointer Institute
Brooklyn Youth Chorus
Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance

CHOREOQUEST CHOREOGRAPHERS-IN-RESIDENCE
Nathan Trice and Edisa Weeks