New York producers to receive first-ever Emerging Producer Award at NBTF

LINDA ARMSTRONG Special to the AmNews | 7/27/2011, 5:26 p.m.

Commenting on why this was necessary, Heyliger explained, "Women of color get less than 10 percent of the production opportunities in all 50 states. It's been as low as 1 percent at times-that's why you have to get your plays up yourself. As a playwright, you want to see your work on the stage, living and breathing."

To Heyliger, getting the Emerging Producers Award is like the NBTF saying, "'These twins had chutzpa. They got up and made things happen.' The NBTF gave us a chance as producing artists and carried our plays in its festival. We were put in the best theaters at the festival. And that says, 'We believe in you guys. We know you're going to bring a good product,' so it's doubly sweet for us," Heyliger said.

"Yvonne and I work very hard, and we put our own money and our husbands' money into producing our work. I've also won grants, but I wish that more grants were given to women. I wish that the government could...produce programs for women to level the playing field," Heyliger remarked.

Discussing Twinbiz's mission, she shared, "I'm very interested in social awareness. My plays are about HIV/AIDS, sexual abuse, race and beauty in America and sex scandals in the White House. My newest play, 'White House Wives: Operation Lysistrata!' is an antiwar comedy about the White House wives."

Demonstrating their social concerns, Twinbiz launched the National Black HIV/AIDS Theatre Initiative, held annually on Feb. 7, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, featuring readings and productions on the subject of HIV/AIDS and sexual health.

In addition to the Emerging Producer Award, Twinbiz looks forward to going to the festival because "it's an opportunity for Black theater artists and producers to come together and commune with each other and celebrate their art. It's a rejuvenating period. There's a sense of community and coming together, replenishing the spirit of getting back out there and to keep fighting the good fight," the producer said.

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