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Festival Founder &

Producing Artistic Director


Debra Ann Byrd is the Founder of Take Wing And Soar Productions, Inc., where she currently serves as Chief Executive and Producing Artistic Director.   Ms. Byrd has guided her company's growth from its birth as the passionate dream of one determined woman into a viable support organization serving classical artists of color and theater arts groups throughout New York ...

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Debra Ann Byrd, Festival Founder & Producing Artistic Director

Dathan B. Wiliams, Associate Artistic Director

Voza Rivers, Executive Producer, New Heritage Theatre Group






Executive Producer

Producing Partner



New Heritage Theatre Group, now celebrating its 50th Anniversary Season, is the oldest Black nonprofit theater company in New York City. NHTG was originally established in 1964 under the name New Heritage Repertory Theatre by the late Roger Furman, a revered playwright, director, actor and lecturer who began his career in the 1940s with the American Negro Theatre in Harlem ...



Associate Artistic Director



Dathan B. Williams has worked in the U.S. and Canada and is pleased to be returning to direct his second TWAS reading. He could be seen in these TWAS Classical Lab readings: Richard Greatham in Hay Fever,  Ross in Macbeth, The Messenger in Medea . . .

Voza's BIO >>

The Harlem Shakespeare Festival is a subsidiary of Take Wing And Soar Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved © 2011-2013

Debra Ann's BIO >> Dathan's BIO >>

NATALIE CLARKE [Director of Patron and Community Affairs] has worked with theater companies and arts, cultural and dance organizations, in promotion and audience development with such productions as The Jackie Wilson Story, Been Rich All My Life movie premier, The Gospel at Colonus, Lackawana Blues, Def Poetry Jam, Hairspray the musical, Caroline or Change, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Gem of the Ocean, Radio Golf, Plantanos & Collard Greens, Everything’s Turning into Beautiful, Bhuthan, Dutchman, Hoodoo Love, Oronooko, Ohio State Murders, Antony & Cleopatra, THURGOOD, The Country Girl, Basic Training,  The Alvin Alley American Dance Theater, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Gabrielle Lansner and Company, The Ossie Davis Endowment Launch, The Audelco Awards, Signature Theatre, The Cherry Lane Theatre, Theatre for a New Audience and Take Wing And Soar Productions, where she has worked on several productions such as Antigone, Medea, King Lear, Triumph of Love,  Macbeth, Steve Carter’s PECONG, Antony & Cleopatra, Take Wing and Soar Spirit of Excellence Awards, was a board member and was the recipient of the TWAS President’s Volunteer Award.  In 2008 she received an AUDELCO AWARD for Outstanding Pioneer Audience Development and Public Relations. Natalie worked with Walker International Communications Group for 6 years in Marketing and promotions and is a proud member of the Harlem Arts Alliance.


TROI HALL [Social Media & Producing Intern] For as long as she can remember, Troi has always been interested in all aspects of the Theatre. She is a senior at Talent Unlimited High School where she studies acting. in her spare time, she attends a PRO-TV Film Youth Program at the Downtown Community Television Center and performs plays with Theatre West 97th. She recently performed in Ring Round The Moon in which she played Madame Desmortes. She is excited to work with the TWAS Team and is grateful for this opportunity.


TONY HOWARD [Curator - Shakespeare On Film Series] Tony Howard is the principal investigator of the UK based Project British, Black And Asian Shakespeare. He is Profesor of English at Warwick University and specialises in the relationship between performance and politics. In 2009 he organised a celebration of Paul Robeson’s career, involving exhibitions and stage and radio documentaries. He is the author of Women as Hamlet: Performance as Interpretation in Theatre, Film and Fiction (CUP 2007). He curated a season of Shakespeare films from round the world for the Cultural Olympiad and works closely with Shakespeare's Globe. He has had plays and (working with Barbara Bogoczek) translations performed at Stratford East, the Royal Court, Riverside Studios and Battersea Arts Centre.


PENNY LANDAU/Maya PR [General Press Representative] saw her first Broadway show, West Side Story, when she was 9 years old. Since then, she has performed, stage managed, directed, teched, taught and, for the last 27 years, run her own PR firm. Maya PR has repped White’s Lies (Tuc Watkins, Betty Buckley & Peter Scolari); Bermuda Avenue Triangle (Renee Taylor & Joe Bologna); the multi-award winning Jelly Roll! starring Vernel Bagneris; Edge starring Angelica Torn as Sylvia Plath (NY, London, Australia & New Zealand); Third Eye Rep’s acclaimed production of Godspell (Leslie Kritzer, Shoshanna Bean, Chad Kimball, Barrett Foa, Capathia Jenkins); A Broadway Diva Christmas (Kathy Brier, Ellen Green, Maya Days, Marla Schaffel & Christine Pedi); Christmas with the Crawfords (starring Joey Arias); BarBara Luna (“Star Trek”), France Nuyen (Joy Luck Club),  Geri Jewell (“Deadwood” & “Facts of Life”), Kathy Garver (“Family Affair”),  playwrights Dennis Richard, Ryan  Schube & Anthony Laura; New Zealand author  Nathan Hoturoa Gray (First Pass Under Heaven); Take Wing And Soar Prods; Big Apple Comic-Con; League of Professional Theatre Women; Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs (Founding Charter Member); Singers Forum; the  feature film An Affirmative Act; & the upcoming play Oswald (LA, NYC, London, Dallas). As always, to the late, Madeline Lee Gilford, thanks for being you. www.mayaprny.com


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Debra Ann Byrd, Founder/Producing Artistic Director

Dathan B. Williams, Associate Artistic Director

Tony Howard, Shakespeare On Film Curator

Tom Martin, Events Liason

Lazette McCants, Director Of Volunteer Services

Natalie Clarke, Director of Patron Affairs

David Wright, Festival Sound Designer

Gail Cooper-Hecht, Festival Costume Designer



Voza Rivers, Executive Producer

Jamal Joseph, Executive Artistic Director

Daniel Beaty, Senior Artist In Residence

Lainie Cooke, Associate Producer  

Kats Abe, International Producer

Darryl T. Downing, Audience Development

Jasmine Heatley, Media Coordinator

Salaam Tsegaye, Administrative Assistant

Kathleen Sauders, Jr., Administrative Assistant







TAKE WING AND SOAR PRODUCTIONS [Festival Producer] founded in 1999 by classically trained actress Debra Ann Byrd, is a New York State, 501(c) 3 Professional Theatre Arts Corporation, dedicated to supporting women, youth and especially classically trained actors of color.  In its brief history, Take Wing And Soar Productions has served thousands of patrons and artists and has enjoyed many successes including the creation of The TWAS Theatre Project, The TWAS Classical Lab Reading Series, The Take Wing And Soar “Spirit of Excellence Awards”, the Harlem Shakespeare Workshop, the Hackney Harlem International Youth Project, and its newest initiative the Harlem Shakespeare Festival. The theatre company is a recipient of the LPTW Lucille Lortel Award, presented in recognition of the theatre’s body of work in the community, audience development in Harlem, and in celebration of the “International Exchange Program” between Take Wing And Soar Productions and London’s Hackney Empire Theatre. Other honors include 31 AUDELCO Award Nominations for its mainstage productions of Richard III, The Darker Face of the Earth, Hamlet, Medea, King Lear, Pecong, Antony & Cleopatra, MASSINISSA and The Importance Of Being Earnest.   Associate Artistic Director for Take Wing And Soar Productions is actor, director, teaching artist, Dathan B. Williams.  For more about Take Wing And Soar productions and The Harlem Shakespeare Festival visit us online at www.takewingandsoar.org and/or www.harlemshakespearefest.org


NEW HERITAGE THEATRE GROUP [Festival Producer] celebrating its 50th Anniversary, is the oldest Black nonprofit theater company in New York City.  It was established in 1964 by the late Roger Furman, a revered playwright, director, actor and lecturer who began his career in the 1940s with the American Negro Theatre in Harlem. In 1983, Voza Rivers, an award winning music and theatre producer took over the company. In 1991, Rivers co-produced with Haworth Shakespeare Festival, The Tragedy of Macbeth at the historic St. Bartholomew’s church and in 1996 Romeo & Juliet, featuring leading black actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal National Theatre in England. Both of the Shakespeare presentations toured nationally and throughout the Caribbean. In 1997 Jamal Joseph, a playwright, director, author, award-winning documentary filmmaker and educator joined NHTG as Executive Artistic Director. In 2005 Rivers and Greg Mosher (former artistic director of Lincoln Center Theatre) co-produced Columbia University’s U.S. premiere of international British director Peter Brook’s epic production Tierno Bokar. Under the leadership of Rivers and Joseph NHTG expanded its mission and transformed the theatre into a leading nonprofit arts organization serving tens of thousands of community members and youth annually. New Heritage is composed of three major division: IMPACT Repertory Theatre, New Heritage Films/Harlemwood Film Festival and Furman Theatre Rep. www.newheritagetheatregroup.org