The Bard of Pittsburgh African Legacy Theatre

The Board of the Bard of Pittsburgh African Legacy Theatre governs the repertory companies in all territories to facilitate their artistic and financial collaboration.

Board Members

stephen mckinley henderson

Stephen McKinley Henderson

Stephen McKinley Henderson, Chair of the Board, has worked on stages throughout the United States, abroad, on Broadway, off-Broadway, in television and film. He received a Virtuoso Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for his work in August Wilson’s Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis; and in the 2010 Broadway revival of Fences, he received a Tony nomination for featured actor. That season he was presented with the Richard Seff Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor from Actor’s Equity Association. His OBIE and Lucille Lortel awards in the outstanding lead actor category are for his work as Pops in Stephen Adley Guirgis’ Pulitzer Prize winning play, Between Riverside and Crazy.

His film work includes performances in six Oscar Nominated films: Denis Villeneuve’s, Dune; Greta Gerwig’s, Lady Bird; Steven Spielberg’s, Lincoln; DenzelWashington’s, Fences, Kenneth Lonergan’s, Manchester by the Sea and Stephen Daldry’s,Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Noteworthy television work includes the FX/HULU series, Devs; Halle Berry’s directorial debut, Bruised for Netflix; HBO’s, The Newsroom; HBO Films’ Everyday People presented at Sundance Film Festival in 2004; and William Duke’s PBS American Playhouse film of A Raisin in the Sun, starring Danny Glover and Esther Rolle.

His six Broadway shows include two Tony winners for best Revival of a Play, A Raisin in the Sun, 2014 and Fences, 2010. His last Broadway appearance was as Torvald in the heralded replacement cast of A Doll’s House Part 2 led by Julie White in 2017. Off-Broadway his roles include Pontius Pilate in the LAByrinth Theatre Company’s production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, directed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He has been part of several productions at Kennedy Center, most notably as a member of the acting company for Kenny Leon’s historic Century Cycle Readings in 2008.

Stephen delivered the commencement address and was conferred Juilliard’s Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, May 19, 2017. Nearly 50 years earlier he auditioned for and became a member of Group l, Juilliard Drama Division. John Houseman cited Stephen’s work as a student in his memoir, Final Dress. Stephen completed his conservatory training at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (BFA) where he served as president of the student government. He recently received UNCSA’s Honorary Doctorate when he delivered their 2020/2021 commencement address. During his 30 years as faculty for the Department of Theatre and Dance, State University of New York at Buffalo, he served periods as Head of Performance and Department Chair. He retired Professor emeritus in 2016.

In an eloquent obituary for playwright August Wilson, Michael Feingold of the Village Voice wrote,

“To think of the great characters and scenes in August’s plays is to think of an epic parade of great African American actors who have seized their moment to make theater history: James Earl Jones and Mary Alice in Fences, Charles S. Dutton in Ma Rainey and The Piano Lesson, S. Epatha Merkerson confronting him in the latter, Roscoe Lee Browne sagely ironic in Two Trains Running, Stephen McKinley Henderson oozing malice in Jitney, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Lisa Gay Hamilton glaring a skyful of weaponry at each other in Gem of the Ocean.”

michele shay

Michele Shay

Michele Shay has performed in August Wilson’s plays from inaugurating the role of Louise in Seven Guitars on Broadway in 1996 to Aunt Ester in Gem of the Ocean directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson (2006 San Francisco), Phylicia Rashad (2007 Seattle) and Kenny Leon (2008 as part of August Wilson’s 20th Century Cycle at the Kennedy Center). Michele has also directed six of his plays, Seven Guitars (2003 Salisbury NC, 2013 San Francisco CA, 2014 Arlington VA), Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (2003 Santa Clarita CA), Gem of the Ocean (2007 Winston-Salem NC), Fences (Salisbury NC 2009), King Hedley II (2017 Los Angeles CA) and Two Trains Running (2018 Los Angeles CA).

Michele is a Tony nominated award-winning actress, director and producer, and also a Coach, healer and teacher. She has taught acting at UNCSA in North Carolina, American Conservatory Theater (ACT) in San Francisco, Actors Theater of Louisville, Cal Arts, David Kagen’s on-camera Film Acting Studio in Los Angeles and currently at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She also served on Theater Panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, New York and New Jersey State Arts Councils, the Princess Grace Foundation and the Board of directors for Theater Communications Group.

Pauletta Pearson Washington

Pauletta Pearson Washington

American Actress, vocalist and a classically trained pianist recognized for her role as Terri Angelou from 2002 to 2004 in the television comedy series “The Parkers,” also in “Happily Ever After Fairy Tales for Every Child” and, in 2017, “She’s Gotta Have It” as well as roles in several films including, “Beloved,“90 Days,” and “The Real MVP: The Wanda Durant Story.” In 2021 Pauletta lovingly played Aretha Franklin’s grandmother Rachel Franklin in the limited series, “Genius: Aretha.” Other recent credits include Mama Lu in the HULU series “Reasonable Doubt,” and Doctor Olivia in the Tubi film “Steps”.

Pauletta is also a Trustee at Spelman College, a global leader in the education of women of African descent, and one of the founding and executive members of The Brain Trust of Cedars-Sinai – a group that raises awareness and funds for brain care and research. She and her husband both have been involved with the organization for over 20 years. Their family has also established the Pauletta and Denzel Washington Gifted Scholars Program — a community outreach program that enables undergraduate, graduate and medical students, with an interest in science, to work on exciting research projects underway in neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai. More than 25 Washington Scholars have completed the program and many of them have continued their work at prestigious institutions throughout the United States and United Kingdom.

Phylicia Rashad

Phylicia Rashad

Phylicia Rashad is an accomplished actor and stage director, and the newly appointed Dean of the of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University.  Her stage performances include Lena Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun;” Aunt Ester in August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean;” The Witch in Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods;” Violet Weston in Tracey Letts’ “August Osage County;” and Shelah in Tarrell Alvin McCraney’s “Head of Passes;” etc. She has directed August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean” at the Seattle Repertory Theater; “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” (winner of the 2014 NAACP Theatre Award for best director) at the Mark Taper Forum; “Fences” at the Long Wharf Theatre and McCarter Theatre. Her awards include the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, BET Honors Theatrical Arts Award, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s Spirit of Shakespeare Award, the inaugural Legacy Award of the Ruben Santiago Hudson Fine Arts Learning Center, and the Lucille Lortel Award. In 2016, she was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame.

She became a household name when she portrayed Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show,” earning  numerous honors and awards for over two decades. More recent roles in television and film include appearances as Carol on NBC’s “This Is Us;” Diana Dubois on the Fox TV series “Empire;” Dr. Woods-Trap in Tarrell Alvin McCraney’s Peabody Award-winning series “David Makes Man” on the OWN Network; Libba Gardner in Pixar’s Academy Award-winning animated feature, “Soul;” Grandmother Journey in the Netflix holiday musical “Jingle Jangle;” and Dr. Jones in “Between the World and Me” on HBO Max.

Randy Bryant

Randy Bryant

Randy Bryant is a preservationist and architectural historian. He is the President and CEO of Ten Chimneys Foundation, the estate created by theatre legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, open to the public as a world-class house museum and national resource for theatre, arts, and arts education as well as nationally renowned for its Programs for American Theatre and Programs for the Public.  He leads the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program which brings actors from across the country to participate in a week-long master class and retreat with a world-renowned master teacher. During his tenure, he has brought renowned talents such as Alan Alda, Jason Alexander, Phylicia Rashad, Alfred Molina, David Hyde Pierce, and hundreds of other Broadway and regional theatre talent to Wisconsin through the Lunt-Fontanne Program.

His community leadership has benefited organizations such as: City of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission, Milwaukee Art Museum, Preserve Our Parks, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee County Landmark Commission, Coalition for Historic Preservation and Economic Development, Historic Preservation Committee of Historic Milwaukee, Inc. Previously he served as President of the Board of Directors and Interim Executive Director for the Milwaukee County Historical Society, where he oversaw the completion of a $9 million dollar restoration and capital campaign, along with facilitating its designation as a Smithsonian affiliate. He has an extensive record of operationally supporting work at executive levels for both corporate and nonprofit entities in a variety of senior level positions in Brazil, Spain, and England for Motorola, Inc., a U.S. based multinational telecommunications company based in Schaumburg, IL, including Latin America Strategist, Director of Business Development, and President/General Manager of Motorola INOSET in Brazil.

roy williams

Roy Williams OBE

Roy Williams OBE is a playwright with many awards including the 2000 George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright for Lift Off, the 2001 Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright for Clubland, the 2002 BAFTA Award for Best Schools Drama for Offside and the 2004 South Bank Show Arts Council Decibel Award.

In 2011 his play Sucker Punch was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Play; and in 2018, he was a made a fellow of The Royal Society of Literature. In 2020, Roy co-wrote Death of England which the Times described as “a monologue of passion, humour and fury” amongst a plethora of enthusiastic reviews for this portrayal of a white racist anti-hero at the Royal National Theatre which was followed later in the year by the black anti-hero response Death of England: Delroy also performed at the Royal National Theatre to equal acclaim.

Annouchka de Andrade

Annouchka de Andrade was until 2021, director of the Amiens International Film Festival (FIFAM) in France where she hosted movie makers from all continents. Previously she was French cultural attaché in Colombia with a cultural outreach to Bolivia Chile and Peru, and then cultural attaché in Spain.

She was born in the Kremlin because her mother, Sarah Maldoror, was studying film in Moscow at the time and was taken to the city’s best clinic for the birth. She spent her early childhood in Rabat and Algiers while her father, Mário Pinto de Andrade, one of the founders and first President of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was being hunted by Salazar’s Portuguese police and army. At the age of 10, she settled in France where she was educated and lives.

Robert Silman

Robert Silman – schooling in London, university in Paris (Philosophy), returning to London to be a medical doctor, first as a practising clinician then most of his career at St Bartholomew’s Hospital doing medical research into the role of ACTH and endorphin in pregnancy and parturition, and melatonin in growth and puberty. After retirement from medicine he became a theatre producer (Joan Rivers at the Edinburgh Festival, Theatre Royal Haymarket London, and a UK and Irish tour).

He also produced in the USA. While at a workshop at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, he took pot luck with a show at the Goodman theatre and discovered the genius of August Wilson. His enthusiasm for Wilson’s play cycle was matched by his indignation at the under-recognition of the achievement. After the murder of George Floyd, he sought the aid of the signatories for the support letter advocating for the recognition and promotion of Wilson and other great black playwrights much like the RSC does for Shakespeare and the great playwrights of his era.

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