Now celebrating its 35th anniversary, Bushfire Theatre of Performing Arts, a cultural hub in the West Philadelphia community, presents its Sixteenth Anniversary Walk of Fame recognizing African Americans of stage, screen and television. This year’s honorees are Sonia Sanchez, a celebrated poet, playwright and professor, and legendary actor Vinie Burrows, who will leave their handprints on the Walk of Fame in front of the theater. A plaque will honor acclaimed actor Dick Anthony Williams and Tony Award winner Gregory Hines, who are being recognized posthumously.
“I think the biggest thing is [that] in the past we wanted to honor Sonia [Sanchez], because Sonia is an excellent playwright. So it’s not her poetry that day, it’s her as a playwright,” said Bushfire Artistic Director Al Simpkins. Original plays by Sanchez, who is currently a poet-in-residence at Temple University, include “Black Cats and Uneasy Landings,” “The Bronx is Next,” “Dirty Hearts,” “Uh, Uh; But How Do It Free Us?” and “Malcolm Man Don’t Live Here No Mo.”
Simpkins stated that the ceremony will take place on the birthday of the late Muslim minister and human rights activist, Malcolm X. “It’s no coincidence that it’s the same day,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that we wanted to do, and why Sonia was so very important, because of her activities back in the ’60s and ’70s.
“Vinie Burrows, she’s really an international actress. She’s toured the world, and she’s a quiet kind of thunder in New York,” Simpkins said. “She does a lot of one-woman shows, but she’s done Broadway, she’s done Off-Broadway, and she’s one of the older actresses that has basically inspired a number of actors as well as writers, I know, in New York, and I would imagine wherever she goes. She’s that kind of person.”
Once again, the street will be closed to traffic during the Walk of Fame induction, which will begin at 4:30 p.m. with a Meet & Greet Reception attended by Sanchez and Burrows. The Induction Ceremony takes place at 5:00 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:00. At 7:30 p.m., Bushfire Theatre will present the world premiere of P.J. Gibson’s “The Ancestor Series: A Trilogy of One Act Plays,” directed by Simpkins.
As Simpkins continues Bushfire’s legacy of training fine actors and making the arts accessible to the community, he said proudly, “We’ve achieved 35 years of doing continuous world premiere and Philadelphia premiere productions.”