voices from the edge


KELINE ADAMS joins NPTC as Program Manager for Voices From the Edge just in time to Celebrate 20 Years of this ground-breaking program!

With funding, in part, from the Puffin Foundation, 2018 sees us partnering again with the legendary Stephanie Berry, founder and artistic director of Blackberry Productions, and OBIE winner for her solo show THE SHANEEQUA CHRONICLES: The Making of a Black Woman, which NPTC originally produced.

Stayed tune for more details!



In 1997 NPT Artistic Director Melody Brooks met a number of talented African American artists through Community Works, an arts-in-education organization that she was helping to develop. These writers and performers were creating extraordinary theatre—much of it based on their personal experiences in helping populations in need—youth offenders, the homeless, female prisoners, persons with HIV/AIDS, public school children, etc. through workshops and developmental programs. They performed for the same populations, or sometimes in neighborhood organizations.  Through plays, solo pieces, storytelling, poetry and multi-media productions, these artists created powerful theatre infused with a strong sense of purpose and connection to the community, speaking to the many issues confronting African Americans today. 

In February 1998, Ms. Brooks created and produced the first VFtE Festival, inviting these artists to present existing works that had been performed in non-theatre settings.  NPTC wanted to give them access to a larger audience, but more importantly, we believed that the general public needed to see the work.  Some of it was raw, some more polished, but it all fulfilled our vision of what theatre is about—to educate and enlighten as well as entertain—to move audiences on a visceral level and challenge them to become agents for change.

The first festival was very exciting, and audience feedback confirmed our instincts that there was indeed an important need for such a program. Twenty years later, that need still exists.


current vfte guidelines

Since the loss of our black box theatre space in 2006, we have shifted the focus of Voices From the Edge from a large-scale festival to a smaller presentation. While the number of artists is fewer, we are giving more developmental and dramaturgical support to writers, and increasing the number of performances slightly. This allows us to maintain our commitment to showcasing the works of African American artists and at the same time devote more time to specific projects. Currently, VFE projects are selected by invitation only.