The Coalition of Theatres of Color (CTC) honored award winning actor-director Arthur French with a Lifetime Achievement Award to commemorate his 50-year distinguished career in theatre, television and film at a special tribute hosted by actor Ted Lange on May 19 at Black Spectrum Theatre, 119-07 Merrick Blvd. in Jamaica, Queens.
Ted Lange, known as “Isaac Washington, the bartender” on television’s Love Boat presented the award. Recently, Lange performed in Harlem as Elijah Muhammad in a revival of When the Chickens Came Home to Roost, produced by New Heritage Theatre.
Arthur French, one of the founding actors of the Negro Ensemble Company, holds an Obie Award for “Sustained Excellence of Performance,” an Off-Broadway Lucille Lortel Award for August Wilson’s Two Trains Running and several AUDELCO Awards, including Best Director for his direction of the Harlem revival of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
For over 20 years, French has been a board member of Black Spectrum Theatre, which is under the direction of Carl Clay, its founder and executive director. French’s entertainment career spans key roles on Broadway, television and film. His major New York stage work includes: Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning A Soldier’s Play, August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Melvin Van Peebles’ Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, You Can’t Take It With You with Jason Robards, Horton Foote’s play Dividing the Estate with Elizabeth Ashley and The Iceman Cometh with James Earl Jones. French has worked with George C. Scott in several theatre productions like All God’s Chillun Got Wings, Design for Living and Death of a Salesman. His extensive film credits include Car Wash, Crooklyn, Malcolm X, Kinsey and Three Days of the Condor. He’s also appeared in dozens of television shows including: Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, and Nurse Jackie.
“The Coalition of Theatres of Color is proud to honor Arthur French,” said Woodie King, chairman, CTC and the founder and producing director, New Federal Theatre.
“Arthur French is a brilliant actor. He embodies all the attributes necessary to work, teach and direct in the American theatre. That is why he was a founding member of the legendary Negro Ensemble Company in the 1960s; why he continues to play leading roles on Broadway and direct all over New York.”
Carl Clay, founder and executive director of Black Spectrum Theatre, said, “Arthur French is a acting legend with heart, soul and plenty of humility to go with it. He’s done it all over his close to 50 year career, which includes Broadway, Hollywood, soap operas, major TV commercials, and sitcoms, his success in major commercial stage, screen and TV roles. Yet, it has never kept him away from working in community theatres like The H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players, New Federal Theatre, Black Spectrum or training actors at HB Studios and being a mentor and support system for thousands of up and coming actors. Mr. French is a first class act and we are proud to salute the man, his talent and his dedication to craft with a Life Time Achievement Award as an acting icon.”
The Coalition of Theatres of Color (CTC) is a non-profit community of renowned multi-cultural theatre arts organizations in New York State. These institutions have joined forces to ensure sustainability and longevity of theatre of color in multicultural communities. New York City theatres are Billie Holiday Theatre, Black Spectrum Theatre, H.A.D.L.E.Y Players, National Black Theatre, New Federal Theatre, New Heritage Theatre and Paul Robeson Theatre. Acclaimed producer Woodie King is chairman of CTC, Carl Clay is vice chair and Marjorie Moon, executive producer, Billie Holiday Theatre, serves as second vice chair. CTC is supported through grants from the New York City Council Committee, chaired by James Van Bramer and also from The New York Community Trust