Richarda Abrams* an award-winning actress/singer/playwright. First By Faith: The Life Of Mary McLeod Bethune was developed over a six-year period at New Federal Theatre’s Playwright’s Workshop, League of Professional Theatre Women’s Julia’s Reading Room, and the Actors Studio, my artistic home. Thank you to everyone who contributed to my growth as an artist/playwright. I dedicate my performances to my dad, the late Muhal Richard Abrams (pianist, composer), who with my mom, Peggy, encouraged me on this journey. These two wonderful human beings along with my dear grandmother, the late Bernyce Clark, remain the pillars that form my very foundation. I share that in common with Mary McLeod Bethune, her family formed who she became, and as Mary lived her life First By Faith, so am I embarking on this journey and carrying it through to completion.
Richarda is a three-time AUDELCO Viv Award Winning actress/singer/dramatist/producer and she received the Al Jolson Award for Academic Excellence at her alma mater New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. She won the 2019 AUDELCO Viv (Excellence in Black Theatre) Solo Performance of the Year Award, received the 2019 Honor of being Named the Best of Solo Theatre in the last 10 years by United Solo Theatre Festival and won the 2018 United Solo Theatre Festival's: Best Educational Show Award all for First By Faith: The Life Of Mary McLeod Bethune. Credits include: First By Faith: The Life Of Mary McLeod Bethune (SOLDOUT Audiences at the National Black Theatre Festival, Winston Salem, NC and The United Solo Theatre Festival in NYC), GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER (Ivoryton Playhouse), 365 DAYS/365 PLAYS FINALE (Public Theatre), CONTRIBUTION (2nd Stage), LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT director Estelle Parsons (LaMaMa), ASCENSION (NY Fringe Festival) (Cherry Lane), FEAR ITSELF (Crossroads Theatre Co.), VAGINA MONOLOGUES (HERE), Yara Arts Group’s BLIND SIGHT (UKRAINE), INSURRECTION/BOOTY CANDY director Robert O’Hara, THE COST director Barbara Montgomery (LaMaMa), Erik Ehn’s CLOVER (LaMaMa), HOMELESS AND HOW WE GOT THAT WAY by Dan McCormick, FIRST BY FAITH: THE LIFE OF MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE by Richarda Abrams (Theatre 167, 14th Street Y). SHERRI (LIFETIME), OREO’s WITH ATTITUDE (SHOWTIME), COSBY (CBS), NOISES IN THE DARK (SESAME ST.) & THE RIVERSIDE BENCH. CD SONG FOR ALL written with her father the late pianist, composer, visionary, Dr. Muhal Richard Abrams, co-founder of the Association For The Advancement of Creative Musicians. Muhal Richard Abrams’ Ensemble at Roulette NYC. Amina Claudine Myers’ Voice Ensemble USA & SONS D'HIVER (FRANCE), Amina Claudine Myers' Generation IV, (NYC Winter Jazz Festival and Brick Jazz Festival).
Memberships include: Actors Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA, The Actors Studio, Association For The Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), The Dramatists Guild, League of Professional Theatre Women, and New York Women In Film and Television.
Richarda received a B.F.A. with Honors in acting from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts and received an M.A. in Educational Theatre from New York University, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development traveling in the abroad program studying Drama and
Theatre in Education from the University of Leeds, Bretton Hall College (ENGLAND).
Dina Vovsi, (Director) Upcoming: UNTITLED BRIGHTON BEACH PLAY (Working Theater 5 Boroughs 1 City Commission), IPHIGENIA AND OTHER DAUGHTERS (LIU Post), FIRST BY FAITH: THE LIFE OF MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE (United Solo), and the ensemble-created UNTITLED PARLOR PLAY, OR, FOR HOME AMUSEMENT (2017-18 Access Residency). Assistant directing: Broadway, off-Broadway, and regionally, with Roundabout, Playwrights Horizons, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and more. Dina is a Resident Director at The Flea and a member of the 2018-2019 Civilians R&D Group. She has been a Robert Moss Directing Fellow at Playwrights Horizons, the recipient of an SDC Foundation Observership, a member of the Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab, and an O'Neill National Directors Fellowship Finalist. www.dinavovsi.com
Amina Claudine Myers, (Music Director) Born in Blackwell, Arkansas. Myers graduated from Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas with a B.A. Degree in music education. She moved to Chicago, Illinois where she taught music in the public school system for six years. Myers began playing jazz in and around Chicago and was brought into the Association For The Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). There she began composing for large and small ensembles, instrumental and choral music. Myers moved to NYC in 1976 and taught and directed choral music at SUNY in Old Westbury, NY for a year. She was the Assistant Musical Director for the Off Broadway production of “AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ “, Director Richard Maltby prior to Broadway. She had the opportunity to tour Europe and this enabled her to later travel with her Trio, Voice Choir, Quartet solo and with many other artists. Her composing and music directing in theater includes Off Broadway “ THE LADDER”, Director Charles Turner, “OCCASIONAL GRACE”, Bill Rauch, Director and Myers’ “I DREAM”. Myers co-starred with Joseph Jarman in Muhal Richard Abrams theater work “THE DREAM” and she co-starred with David Murray in “PRIMATIVE WORLD” by Amiri Baraka. She continues to tour on piano, voice, organ and pipe organ while living and teaching privately in New York City.
Sally Lesser (Costume Consultant) has been active in New York theater and television for over 30 years. She was the Associate Costume Designer at the ABC soap One Life to Live for 4,904 episodes where she received 3 Daytime Emmy Awards and 9 nominations. She currently works as a swing designer for Good Morning America and The Good Wife. Her extensive background in theater includes the costume design for 150 plays. She designed the original Little Shop of Horrors for which she received the Joseph Maraham Theatre Design Award. She designed 25 major productions at La Mama ETC , Theater for the New City, American Place Theater, The Women's Project, and New Federal Theater. Regional credits: the Alley Theater, Pittsburgh Public, Syracuse Stage and San Diego Rep. At Berkeley Rep she won a Drama-Logue Award for her costume design of The Hairy Ape.
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary Jane McLeod
Mary Jane McLeod