WBTT founder and artistic director to receive National Black Theatre Festival’s ‘Larry Leon Hamlin Producer Award’ during August event, at which the Troupe will also perform

SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) founder and artistic director, Nate Jacobs, will receive the “Larry Leon Hamlin Producer Award” during the 2015 National Black Theatre Festival in August, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He will receive the honor, accorded due to his contributions to Black theatre specifically and American theatre in general, during the Opening Night Gala Awards Banquet.

The company has, too, been recognized with an invitation to perform during the Festival. WBTT will perform “Soul Crooners 2,” which Jacobs wrote and will direct and star in, on Friday and Saturday, August 7 and 8, at 3pm and 8pm. In the summer of 2013, WBTT was honored to present four performances of "The Soul Crooners," also penned by Jacobs, to sold-out crowds at the Festival.

“All of us at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe are thrilled at this well-deserved honor being presented to Nate by the National Black Theatre Festival,” said WBTT board chair Julie Leach. “His talent as a performer and his ability to write and direct high-quality shows, combined with his passion to serve as a mentor, have impacted the lives of artists and fans of the theatre alike. Even through some pretty tough times, Nate never abandoned his dream of creating a world-class theatre celebrating the African-American experience here in Sarasota – thanks to his vision and dedication, that dream is now a reality.”

Jacobs is an actor, singer, comedian, playwright, composer and director who has produced and appeared in many local hit shows. For more than 25 years, Jacobs has worked extensively in the community mentoring, training and developing young aspiring performing artists. He founded WBTT in December of 1999 and, for years, presented shows in arts venues throughout the region. Some were dramatic offerings, some musicals, some were musical revues penned by Jacobs himself. In 2013, the organization purchased the two buildings on the lot at the northeast corner of 10th Street and Orange Avenue. In October of last year, WBTT held its 15th Anniversary Celebration at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall – 1,500 members of the community came to celebrate the organization’s success and impact.

As a result of Jacobs’ outstanding contributions to young people, the Sarasota County Branch NAACP Youth Council recognized him as one of its 2012 Men of Valor. In the spring of 2013, he was inducted into the Community Video Archives “Hall of Fame” for his significant contributions to the arts and education. In 2015, Jacobs was recognized as a "Champion of Diversity" for the arts during the Biz(941) and La Guia magazines' Unity Awards Luncheon.

"This will be a particularly special National Black Theatre Festival experience for me," said Jacobs. "To receive an award named after Larry Leon Hamlin – whose profound contributions to black theater have helped to pave the way for so many African American artists and unite the Black professional theatre industry – is something that I'll treasure for the rest of my life. I was honored to call Larry a friend and am thrilled to be recognized, in such an esteemed setting, in his name."

The National Black Theatre Festival is a biennial event that brings together the black theatre companies of America and the world. Approximately 30 companies are selected to perform during the week for a total of over 100 performances. The namesake for the award that will be given to Jacobs, Larry Leon Hamlin, was the founder, producer and artistic director of the National Black Theatre Festival. This year’s Festival takes place August 3-8.

About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission is to produce plays that promote and celebrate the African-American experience, attract diverse audiences, while using its productions as a vehicle for supporting African-American artists and building the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.