Greenville Theater Arts Center
Just 27 years later and one block away from its new location 629 Albemarle Avenue notably referred to as “The Roxy Theater”; Greenville Theater Arts Center (GTAC) was established. Greenville Theater Arts Center is a non-profit organization that coaches, enlightens, and expands the heart of creative personalities and inspiring artist. Greenville Theater Arts Center’s (GTAC) objective is to create a space that encourages creativity, empowers individuality, and motivates change for people of all ages, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Greenville Theater Arts Center carries out their objectives through the five elements of fine arts; Performing arts, Creative arts, Applied arts, Visual arts, and Musical arts.
Davonya Terri Campbell-Payton serves as the Executive Director of GTAC, succession from the founder Annette Campbell, her mother. Annette Campbell a New York native with a passion for performing art strived to create a space for artistic expression in Eastern North Carolina. In 1992, Annette started Greenville Theater Arts Center (GTAC), her brother Carl Campbell a graduate of New York University Tisch School of Dance moved to Greenville to assist. GTAC made a positive impact on the community, they offered a variety of dance, acting and production programs. The first participants of GTAC nicknamed themselves GTAC-ERS, a name that has stuck with GTAC to present day. Twice a year GTAC would put on an original play, the children and young adults (GTAC-ERS) would contribute their ideas and GTAC staff would help formulate a play. GTAC-ERS would participate in every aspect of their performance, they would choreograph the dances, design the props, wardrobe, and backgrounds. For the community, GTAC collaborated with local African American sorority and fraternities and various organizations. GTAC offered space for creative interpretations and meetings. GTAC offered a unique experience within the community that Greenville was missing. In the fall of 1998 GTAC closed its doors to its location on Dickenson avenue and went on tour nationally doing stage plays.
Davonya Terri Campbell-Payton acknowledges both parents for her passion for the arts. Her father the late David Payton a Greenville native was one of the pioneers of the “Chitlin Circuit” for African American plays. David Payton toured nationally with inspirational plays such as “A Good Man is Hard to find”, “When A Woman is Fed Up”, “Behind he Pulpit”, and many other plays since 1991. Davonya traveled at a very early age nationally, as a toddler she watched from the wings of the stage while headliners would grace the audience with their talent night after night. She memorized every character’s lines and cues. Growing Up Davonya watched her father’s work ethics and passion for theater. She immersed herself on stage and behind the scenes. Davonya played leading roles, extra’s, and she studied every aspect of theater. She learned hands on writing, producing, singing, directing, engineering audio, and managing. At 16 years old, Davonya attended Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte NC and at the age of 19 graduated with a BS in Hospitality with a concentration in Sports, Entertainment, and Event Management. She studied at UNC School of the Arts with a concentration in Filmmaking. During her time at Johnson and Wales University she started out as vice-president and became-president of the school’s dance team. Her tenure as president she received 4 awards for Organization of the Year.
Greenville Theater Art Center’s revamp is a true archetype of when opportunity and purpose align. The cinema treasure known as The Roxy Theater opened from 1948-1972 it was the crown jewel of African American theaters operated by the Booker T Theater chain. John W Warner (Politician and 2nd husband to Elizabeth Taylor), who managed the theater and was also a silent partner made one of the first black local films Pitch A Boogie Woogie at the Roxy Theatre which he eventually owned. It was later leased to Bill Shepard and Buddy Alcorn, who turned the theater into a center for the arts, neighborhood development, and popular parties. In 1979 Williams Myles Nobles aka “Billie Myles” a famous national songwriter during the 1950’s and 60’s and a native of Greenville purchased the building. After multiple years of its use as a church, the building became available earlier this year. Since February 2019, Greenville Theater Arts Center (GTAC) has leased the Roxy Theater and is starting renovations to bring back the Historical African American Theater viable to present a wide range of programs that entertain, enrich and inform the diverse multicultural population in Pitt and surrounding counties. GTAC’S multifunctional building is capable of hosting an array of events to complement the heART of West Greenville. On July 4th GTAC-ERS also known as the Pigmented Crowd will perform at Town Commons Fourth of July festivities, and July 6th Black Albermale a vendor exhibition will gather on GTAC grounds. On July 19th Greenville Theater Arts center will present the first Black Albermale Jazz event, in honor of Billy Myles (William Myles Noble). To acquire more information about this movement, visit www.gtacnc.org.