Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj Named as Artistic Director at New Freedom Theatre
Ensuing excitement is surrounding the performing arts community as New Freedom Theatre (1346 N Broad St) has announced that Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj will be taking on the permanent role of Artistic Director after a string of guest directors have filled the position over the past few years.
Founded in 1966 by John E. Allen Jr. and Robert E. Leslie Sr., New Freedom Theatre, simply known as “The Freedom” to local residents, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Being the oldest African-American Theatre Company in Pennsylvania, New Freedom is a cultural hub for African-American pride and performance, dedicated to achieving artistic excellence in professional theatre and performing arts training for the enrichment of the community.
In addition to having housed some of the finest displays in African-American performance art, such as “Purlie Victorious” (1966), “Black Picture Show” (1985-86) and “Trick the Devil” (2003-04), New Freedom Theatre combines its award-winning Barrymore training programs with its Barrymore Nominated productions to create an environment that is renowned citywide for its professionalism and integrity.
44 year-old Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj is an Indo-Caribbean American artist and member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He established Rebel Theatre Company in New York City in 2010 and has been regarded by the New York Times as “one of the most talented directors in New York these days.” Rajendra is also a member of Theatre Philadelphia’s Board of Directors.
Having already served as Guest Artistic Director in 2014 and being officially appointed as Artistic Director earlier this year, Rajendra looks to oversee the future success of New Freedom. With an impressive resume under his belt, his contribution to upcoming productions has been highly anticipated by the performing arts community.
Having worked in every aspect of theatre including music, set design and choreography along with being devoted to social justice performance, Rajendra possesses an impressive resume that shows he is more than capable of taking on the role of Artistic Director at New Freedom.
Some of his previous director/choreography credentials in New York City include The Classical Theatre of Harlem (“Marat Sade”), Lark Play Development Center (“Man Measures Man”, “Breathe”) and New Federal Theatre (“Diss Diss and Dat”).
In addition to his directing and choreographic experience, Rajendra is an accomplished playwright having authored plays such as “Little Rock” — a drama about the Little Rock Nine. He also co-wrote plays such as “The Ballad of Trayvon Martin” and “Daisy”, inspired by the life and legacy of Daisy Lee Bates.
The appointment of Rajendra as Artistic Director coincides with New Freedom’s aim to look for a new and modern direction to ensure the theatre’s longevity.
They have recently fired their long-time legacy directors and now hold free monthly community events such as the Edwin Forrest Reading Series and Harlem Renaissance inspired Freedom Speaks.
With Rajendra’s reputation as a nationally respected figure in the activism and performing arts worlds, the theater community of Philadelphia is very much looking forward to what he will bring to the historic New Freedom Theatre.
Running from November 30th until December 18th, New Freedom Theatre is exhibiting “The Black Nativity”, written and directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj.
Tickets are $20. •