Crossroads Theatre Company is an African American theater.
In 1978, a group of African American actors and leaders met with the Regional Director of the Comprehensive Employment & Training Administration, Ed Hardy, and Director of Management Development & Training, Susan Morris, to request funds for the establishment of a Black theater in New Brunswick, New Jersey. A grant was awarded to them under the CETA program, which enabled the artists to start up the theater in the old King Block building in the heart of New Brunswick, where it became an integral part of the Rutgers University-New Brunswick Tomorrow redevelopment and premier theater experience. By 1985, it was thriving and had 1,300 subscribers. Crossroads was so successful that it moved to a new building where it is located today, enduring for 35 years from its modest beginnings based on the foresight and vision of a small group of individuals.
Crossroads' primary effort has been its four-play main stage season, where the many timbres of the African American experience have been given voice in full productions. Since its founding, Crossroads has produced over 100 works, many of which were premiere productions by African and African American artists. Crossroads' world premieres include: The Colored Museum, which originated at Crossroads in 1986 and was then seen by millions on national public television when it was produced for WNETs "Great Performances," and Spunk, both by Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe.
Additional Crossroads world premieres include: The Love Space Demands, Ntozake Shange's choreopoem; Black Eagles by Leslie Lee, an historic chronicle of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II; Sheila's Day, the cultural collaboration of six South African and six African American women written by Sarafina! creator Mbongeni Ngema that toured the US. Britain and South Africa after its run on the Crossroads stage; Ruby Dee's stage adaptation of the novel, The Disappearance; Vernel Bagneris' worldwide hit musical, And Further'Mo; fonner U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove's first play, The Darker Face of the Earth; the award-winning Lost Creek Township by Charlotte A. Gibson; Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues; Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song and History of the Word.
Other noteworthy productions by Crossroads include: celebrated American playwright August Wilson's reworked play, Jitney; Flyin' West, written by Pearl Cleage and starring Ruby Dee (Kennedy Center) and Trazana Beverly and Olivia Cole (Crossroads); Nomathemba, a musical by Ntozake Shange and Joseph Shabalala, founder and leader of Grammy Award-winning South African recording artists Ladysmith Black Mambazo; Marian X's The Screened-In Porch; and Two Hah Hahs and a Homeboy, written by Ruby Dee and starring Ms. Dee, Ossie Davis and their son, musician Guy Davis.
The American Theatre Critics Association together with the American Theatre Wing and the Lauge of American Theatre and Producers presented the 1999 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre to Crossroads in recognition of twenty years of artistic excellence.
Over 50 new plays have premièred at Crossroads, including works by such artists as August Wilson, Anna Devere Smith, George C. Wolfe, Ntozake Shange, Migdalia Cruz, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Linda Nieves-Powell, former US Poet Laureate Rita Dove and South African writer/composer Mbongeni Ngema.
Since its founding Crossroads has produced over 100 works including many premiere productions by African and African American artists. Crossroads' productions include:
- The Colored Museum (by George C. Wolfe), (world premiere) originated at Crossroads in 1986 and later appeared on television as one of WNETs "Great Performances"
- Spunk, also by George C. Wolfe, (world premiere). Mr. Wolfe is himself a winner of multiple Tony Awards.
- Jitney by American playwright August Wilson.
- Fly by Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan October, 2009 (World Premiere)
- Sheila's Day by South African writer, Duma Ndlovu
- It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues by Ron Taylor and others.
- McKinley, Jesse (June 3, 1999). "Spotlight On an Outpost Of Black Talent; A New Jersey Theater Steps Onto the Big Stage". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2009.
- Foster, Janet W. (May 26, 1988). "NRHP Nomination: King Block". National Park Service.
- Catinella, Joseph (October 21, 1979). "State's First Professional Black Theater Is at a Crossroads". The New York Times.
- Freedman, Samuel G. (December 8, 1985). "Black Theater Thriving in New Brunswick". The New York Times.