New Professional Theatre (NPT), founded by Sheila Kay Davis, throws a spotlight on multicultural vitality and diversity; while also promoting the work of predominantly minority artists to both mainstream and minority audiences. NPT aims to empower, advance and sustain new work written by emerging and established writers. We promote the work of new and established writers through showcases, full productions, international collaborations, symposia and seminars. NPT develops new, diverse audiences and cultivates hard-to-reach communities.
Founder & Artistic Director
SHEILA KAY DAVIS
Sheila Kay Davis is a lifelong theatre professional. After graduating from Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga. with a degree in theatre, Sheila headed to New York City. She was immediately cast in the hit show "Little Shop of Horrors", now a classic, in which Sheila originated the role of Ronette. She is featured on the cast album and played the role for five years. She hit the ground running racking up success in television commercials, regional theatres, and daytime dramas.
However, she noticed very few minorities having real sustainable success in the theatre world. Her thorough experience as an actress gave her insight into both the joys and frustrations of minority artists. She used this insight as her drive to found the New Professional Theatre (NPT). Armed with passion and desire, Ms. Davis set out to form a theatre company that would develop African American playwrights, a sorely underrepresented group.
Since its inception, NPT has served over 1000 playwrights with productions, cash grants, dramaturgy, business seminars and providing access to agents and producers. NPT writers have been featured in regional theatre, television, and film. Sheila is the daughter of Carrie Meek, the first African American elected to the US Congress in the state of Florida since Reconstruction. Sheila understands developing constituencies and community mobilization. She serves her community through the NPT Education Program a program that provides mentoring, homework assistance, college prep, volunteerism and Broadway outings to New York City Public School Students. She has received the Spelman College Alumnae Achievement Award for Arts & Media and the Arts Leadership Award from the Coalition of 100 Black/Asian/Latino women at the World of Women Leaders.
MARK DUNDAS WOOD
Mark Dundas Wood has worked as literary manager for New Professional Theatre since 2000. In addition, he has served as a dramaturg for the New York Musical Theatre Festival since 2009. His articles and reviews have appeared in Backstage, American Theatre, Theater Week Magazine, bistroawards.com and elsewhere. He is a co-editor for and contributor to the entertainment website SimplyShowbiz.com. Mark holds MFA degrees in creative writing from The University of Oregon and in dramaturgy from Columbia University.
Theatre Conference at Bethune Cookman University
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO HAVE A SUSTAINABLE CAREER IN SHOW BUSINESS?
New Professional Theatre produced a Theatre Conference at Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach, FL in April 2023. The conference was led by NPT Artistic Director Sheila Kay Davis, Broadway star Jawan Jackson of the MOTOWN MUSICAL and AIN’T TOO PROUD and Dr. Julius John, Chair of the Theatre Department at Bethune Cookman University. This HBCU was founded by Mary McLeod Bethune in 1904.
Students at Bethune Cookman University.
Jawan gives advice and stresses patience, persistence and pivoting.
Artistic Director Sheila Kay Davis with Jawan Jackson and Dr. Julius John.
New Professional Theatre developed a new play for New York City Public Schools entitled PRESSURES. Written and directed by Tai Thompson this show delves into the pressures young people encounter in society today i.e. gun violence, gangs, post high school education, sexuality and family. We performed in April 2023 at Bronx Theater High School, In-Tech Academy, High School for Health Careers and Sciences and Urban Assembly High School.
The cast of PRESSURES
The students and administrators loved the show.
Cast with Writer/Director Tai Thompson (front row left), and our student guest actor (front row right). Artistic Director Sheila Kay Davis and two Assistant Principals join the fun.
"this show should be seen by every student in New York City"
Single Black Female, by Dr. Lisa Thompson, The Duke Theatre.
The In-Gathering, by John Henry Redwood and Daryl Waters, The Duke Theatre.
Coming Apart Together, by Paula Materre.
Two Divas & the Dog, by Kira Arne.
Skindiver, by Charles Randolph Wright and Nona Hendryx.
Slam, by Thom Jones III.
Barnstormer, by Cheryl Davis and Doug Cohen
New Professional Theatre has supported, encouraged and celebrated many writers through its annual Writer's Festival. We selected the very best and brightest talent in the United States, contributing to a diverse American cultural landscape. Featured below are samples of the many outstanding writers NPT has promoted with cash grants, staged readings, dramaturgy, and literary support. Many have gone on to achieve careers in theatre, film, and television.
Notable writers include:, Colman Domingo, Kathleen McGhee-Anderson, Marva Hicks, Kia Corthron, Zakiyyah Alexander, Patricia Ione Lloyd, Karen Chilton, Ken Roberson, Keith Josef Atkins, Katori Hall, Kara Corthron, Ramona Keller
A 2021 Hollywood Critics Association Award winner for Best Actor in a Limited Series/Anthology and Imagen Award nominee for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his work in Euphoria and a Film Independent Spirit, NAACP, SAG and Critics Choice Award nominee for his work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Colman has starred in some of the most profound films in recent years such as Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk, Steven Spielbergs' Lincoln, Lee Daniel's The Butler, Ava DuVernay's Selma and Nate Parker's Birth of a Nation. He stars in this summer’s films, Jordan Peele's Candyman and Janicza Bravo's Zola. He stars on AMC's Fear the Walking Dead for seven seasons and guest stars on HBO's Euphoria as Ali. He recurred on Steven Soderbergh's series The Knick. As a writer, his plays and musicals include Dot (Samuel French), Wild with Happy (Dramatist Play Service) and A Boy and His Soul (Oberon Books), the Tony Award nominated Broadway musical Summer: The Donna Summer Musical and Geffen Playhouse’s groundbreaking musical Light's Out: Nat King Cole. His plays have been produced by The Public Theater, Vineyard, La Jolla Playhouse, Humana Festival of New American Plays, New York Stage and Film, A.C.T, The Tricycle Theater in London, Brisbane Powerhouse in Australia, among others.
NPT Writer's Fest Winner
NPT WRITERS FESTIVAL WINNERS
WIN PULITZER PRIZE FOR DRAMA 2021
Olivier Award-winning and two-time Tony-nominated Memphis-native Katori Hall is the bookwriter and co-producer of the West End and Broadway hit, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. She’s also the executive producer and showrunner of P-VALLEY, the breakout Starz drama based on her play Pussy Valley. Katori is an alumna of Columbia University, ART at Harvard University, and Juilliard. She’s also a graduate of the Sundance Episodic Lab’s inaugural class, the Sundance Screenwriting Lab, and Ryan Murphy’s Half Foundation Directing Program. Katori has been published in publications such as The Boston Globe, The Guardian, and The New York Times. She is a proud member of the Ron Brown Scholar Program and the Coca-Cola Scholar Program.
MICHAEL R. JACKSON
Michael R. Jackson holds a BFA and MFA in playwriting and musical theatre writing from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. As a songwriter, he has seen his work performed everywhere from Joe’s Pub to NAMT. He wrote lyrics and co-wrote book for the musical adaptation of the 2007 horror film Teeth with composer and co-bookwriter Anna K. Jacobs. He wrote book, music, and lyrics for the musicals White Girl In Danger and A Strange Loop (2019 world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in co-production with Page 73 Productions).