National Black Theatre, a Harlem mainstay, works to keep legacy alive

One of Harlem's most important incubators for cultivating black talent is trying to make sure its 45th season isn't its last.

The National Black Theatre, which catapulted local actors such as Samuel L. Jackson and Michael K. Williams ("12 Years a Slaveā€) to Hollywood fame, is facing a real-life drama of its own, from financial struggles, dwindling grants, and constant costs from maintaining its aging building on Fifth Ave.

The current CEO, Sade Lythcott, the daughter of the theater's late founder, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, told the Daily News that keeping productions rolling is "such a challenge on a daily basis."

"It's the biggest problem of our lives, because we're underfunded," said Lythcott, 34.

This season, Lythcott and NBT program director Jonathan McCrory, 27, have launched several new initiatives, including a playwright residency, reading series, and showcases.The idea is to cast a wider net that appeals to a broader cross section of Harlemites.

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