Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #16

May 11th, 2006  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report


by Kay Bourne
c.1950, brush & ink drawing © Allan Rohan Crite. Crite grew up in Lower Roxbury which is the setting of many of his drawings and paintings.

115 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #16What more fragrant and long-lasting bouquet for Mother’s Day, than words memorializing the Black mother, written by Black authors:

“Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” chides the mother as she encourages her child to climb on! in one of the most beloved poems in all of literature, LANGSTON HUGHES’ “Mother to Son.” In 1927, Countee Cullen published an anthology of verse, including the Hughes poem, every one of them by African American poets entitled “Caroling Dusk.” The decorations on its title page are by Aaron Douglas.

Your mom keeps being your mom, whatever happens to you. In BEBE MOORE CAMPBELL’s page-turner of a novel “72 Hour Hold” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), a mother desperately tries to rescue her manic-depressive daughter from the maw of a mental illness. Along the way, in this heartrending and fascinating story, Keri, the owner of a successful LA designer clothing store, grows wise – and accepting – about the downward spiral in her only child, Trina’s life.

Should you stray, your mom tries her best to snatch you back from harm. It only occurred to rapper TUPAC SHAKUR when he was serving time, how diligently his mother, Afeni, had tried to keep him from this ignominious moment. In his song “Dear Mama,” he relates his appreciation for her efforts: “One day running from tha Police, that’s right – Momma catch me – put a whoop’en to my backside and even as a crack fiend mama, ya always was a black queen mama. I finally understand for a woman it ain’t easy—trying ta raise a man”

Tenor ROLAND HAYES bought his mother a farm, the 600 acre place in Curryville, Georgia where she’d been a slave and where he’d been born. That’s a Mother’s Day gift beyond compare. Hayes who first came to Boston with the Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1911 and made this city his home, achieved international acclaim as a singer of the very spirituals he’d heard at his mother’s knee. Their relationship is so key to Hayes’ success in his life and career that biographer Mackinley Helm entitled his book about Roland Hayes “Angel Mo’ and Her Son.” (Little Brown, 1942).

When playwright ED BULLINS was growing up in the 40′s and 50′s in his mother’s house in Philadelphia, he was made conscious of three Black figures she regarded as important. His mother kept photographs of singer Marian Anderson, boxer Joe Lewis, and artist/activist Paul Robeson in pride of place, on the mantle.

“They were a triumvirate of Black excellence,” explains Bullins, who currently lives in Roxbury and is an artist-in-residence at Northeastern University.

Ed’s mother was “a very private person,” he describes. She earned a living as a federal garment worker for the Quartermaster Corps. and for extra money to augment a skimpy wage, she also ran a power sewing machine in laundries.

As to the people displayed in her shrine, she talked about Marian Anderson and played her records. She and Ed listened to every Joe Lewis boxing match on the radio. She didn’t mention Paul Robeson, however, as Ed recalls, perhaps feeling that her admiration of him could threaten her job with the government, considering Robeson’s association with the Communist Party. Yet she must have played records of his singing at demonstrations because years later when Ed heard these recordings he recognized the voice and realized he had heard Robeson back in those Philadelphia days.

She read every novel by Richard Wright she could find and passed them along to Ed and she did the same with Ralph Ellison. But their pictures never made it to the mantle. In later life, when Ed came home from the service, the trio of Black inspirational figures had been replaced by a White Jesus with flowing, brown hair.

Looking back, puzzling out who his mother was, Ed is already very clear on her intentions towards him. “She wanted me to know what being Black in America was and the future I would have to fight my way through. And that I had to be good at what I did, and be a courageous fighter. My mother made me!” he said.

by Kay Bourne
117 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #16 Listen up, Moms! Actor/singer, minister and diabetes survivor, DELLA REESE‘s personal triumph over diabetes is the subject of an address she’ll deliver Friday, MAY 12 at Dimock’s 10th Annual Body & Soul Women’s Health Forum. The free, all-day conference starts at 8am with a praise and worship session featuring the Silver Lining Gospel Singers. The event continues until 4pm at the Dimock Community Health Center, 55 Dimock Street, Roxbury.

When Reese collapsed on the set of her TV show “Touched by an Angel,” and was rushed to the hospital, extensive tests revealed she has type 2 diabetes. There are two types of diabetes: juvenile onset, where the auto immune system doesn’t make insulin and adult onset, type 2, where the body produces insulin but doesn’t know how to use it. (Obesity is a risk factor for type 2, so even children are now getting this second variety.)

Reese had seen friends suffer terrible consequences from having diabetes. “Ella Fitzgerald and Mabel King lost both legs. My friend Mahalia Jackson went blind. People lost limbs, lost sight, and then they died. I wasn’t ready for any of that,” Reese told this writer, “so I went searching for the truth.”

She found that by eating right, exercising, and taking medication every day (a regimen of medications that were designed for her, in particular) she had an aggressive diabetes management plan. “I love living. I want to live. I refuse to be a victim. Diabetes is not cancer. You can take this over. You can live.”

by Kay Bourne
Caroline (Jacqui Parker) with a personified washer, dryer and radio.
photo credit: Craig Bailey/Perpsective Photo

121 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #16 The musical “CAROLINE, OR CHANGE” makes passionately clear that there are personal sacrifices made by that battalion of nameless mothers who have toiled as maids so their children would have a roof over their heads and food on the table.

The role of Caroline Thibodeaux, a domestic servant in the home of a middle class Jewish family in Louisiana in the early 60′s, is a part that’s about 180 degrees opposite to the “maid” that actresses loathed to play in old fashioned Broadway fare. She is not the compliant workhorse, only in the play because hands are needed to clear the table or dress the star, nor is she there to deliver an unintentionally comic line that has the audience laughing at her. She is not the Black individual in a mask veiling any emotions her charactor truly might have.

In this empathetically authored musical, perceptively written by Tony Kushner, who is not African American, Caroline, while taciturn, is evidently angry, although she soldiers on courageously. She is wonderfully played by JACQUI PARKER, who is mesmerizing in the part, and so deep into the character you believe at times you are reading Caroline’s thoughts. The play, while at times richly humorous, is genuinely, emotionally moving. Bring tissues.

The dynamic SpeakEasy production staged in association with North Shore Music Theatre, flawlessly directed by Paul Daigneault has been extended to June 11 at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Art, 527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End. For information, call 617-933-8600.

It is the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, when Black people are at the ready to at last dismantle the police state that has squashed their dreams since the end of Reconstruction. Caroline labors for most of her days in a tiny laundry room in the airless basement of the Gellman home, her only companions the washer, the dryer, and a portable radio.

She spends so much time down there that it seems natural that the appliances have taken on personalities. Perfect in these roles are A’lisa D. Miles as the stately washer with a towel swirled around her head, Brian Richard Robinson as the devil of a dryer who heats up the room to unbearably hot temperatures, and a ‘Diana Ross and the Supremes’ type of trio, in bouffant wigs and party dresses, Emilie Battle, Nikki Stephenson, Anich D’Jae Wright as the radio.

Choreographer Jackie Davis has beautifully rendered the Motown dance styles of the trio and the other dancing that takes place in the show. (Later on there’s a deliciously inventive “sidewalk games” dance moment with Caroline’s three youngest children that’s so filled with joy you would like to wrap it up and take it home with you.) A hidden 8-piece orchestra with conductor Jose Delgado at the piano beautifully renders the rather difficult score with its rich borrowings from jazz to Jewish traditional music. You won’t be humming tunes from “Carolina, or Change,” but you’ll be swept up into the music.

The Gellmans are a sad household. Stuart Gellman, who loses himself in playing a plaintive clarinet, is a recent widow who has remarried. His new wife, the energetic Rose, reaches out to the young son Josh but he’s having none of her. He misses his mom, taking what comfort he can in the stabilizing fact that Caroline continues as the maid in the house. He sees her as not bending to the winds of change, however harshly they may blow.

This is a strong cast, with SARAH COREY affecting as Rose, and JACOB BRANDT, as the unhappy boy Josh, a perfect foil to Caroline as the story unfolds. Matters come to a head when Rose determines that Josh needs to be a more responsible person. She warns him that the change he leaves in the pockets of his pants that Caroline puts through the washing machine will now not be returned to him by Caroline, rather that Caroline can keep the quarters and nickels.

At the Thibodeaux home, the irrepressible oldest daughter, Emmie, marvelously enacted by SHAVANNA CALDER , while a compliant daughter, as the old song goes “has got her own” and is invigorated by the notion of change. So too is Caroline’s friend, another maid but enrolled in classes at the nearby junior college, Dotty Moffett, excellently portrayed by MERLE PERKINS who is in great voice. BREANNA BRADLEE and DOMINIC GATES are darling as the two youngest Thibodeaux children.


122 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #16 For the past twenty years, the Boston Women’s Fund has been the only foundation in northeastern Massachusetts to exclusively support community-based organizations run by women and girls. On Friday, MAY 12, from 6 – 10pm at the Omni Parker House Rooftop Ballroom, BOSTON WOMEN’s FUND marks the 10th anniversary of its annual benefit to support the organization’s social justice philanthropic mission by honoring two model community service agencies and two renowned national leaders.

DONNA BRAZILE will be celebrated during the event for her work as an author, journalist, professor, and one of the most powerful women in American politics. Dr. JULIANNE MALVEAUX will be recognized for giving voice to such issues as race, culture, gender, and their economic impacts, as well as her work as an economist, author, syndicated columnist, and broadcast commentator.

In addition to receiving awards, the powerful duo will be engaged in conversation together by moderator and event emcee CALLIE CROSSLEY. A commentator, public speaker, writer, journalist, and Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Crossley is known nationally for regular appearances on NPR and CNN news programs, and known locally as a weekly contributor to WGBH-TV’s “Beat the Press.”

Also receiving awards during the event opening with a reception and live performance by Gund Kwok — acclaimed Asian Women’s Lion-Dragon Dance Troupe — will be Southeast Asian Bilingual Advocates, Inc. and United Teen Equality Center, both of Lowell, Massachusetts.

“Each year we choose women to honor that have taken a stand to advance the agenda of women and girls,” BWF Executive Director Renae Gray said of the local honorees. “We use this time to highlight the work of our grantees doing great work on the community-based or grass- roots level and who are either emerging organizations, have scored a victory, or are doing things worthy of recognition.”

To purchase full-price benefit tickets at $100 per person or discounted tickets for seniors, students, and women with special financial circumstances, call Boston Women’s Fund at 617-725-0035.Boston Women’s Fund website

by Lisa Simmons
120 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #16 There is one thing for sure about his movie: ANDY GARCIA is passionate about Cuba. THE LOST CITY is a beautiful, romantic film set in Havana, during the 50′s. Garcia is a club owner who is caught in the revolution that ousted Batista and brought Castro to power. The story centers on Fico (Garcia) who is the oldest of three brothers, Don Federico (Tomas Milian) and Ricardo (Enrique Murciano) from a wealthy family. Fico, who watches from the sidelines as the revolution takes place, is much different from his two brothers who take leading roles in the revolution. Fico instead cares for his aging parents and the families of his brothers.

This film is as much about how the revolution changed lives forever, both rich and poor, as it is about a family’s struggle to stay together and fight that change. It is so clear in this film how Garcia feels about his native land that he left when he was 5 years old. There is a longing for his place that the film cinematically captures and an aching for a place of what he remembers Cuba to be. There is no denying how Garcia feels about the current regime and those who put Castro in to power. In fact, the film has been banned in parts of South America because it shows ‘Che’ Guevara in a bad light. “That will continue to happen,” Garcia says, “because there are people who don’t want to see the image of Che being tarnished and those who are Castro supporters.” Absent, however in this film, are the peasant farmers who for some reason the writer and director felt where not important to this story about the revolution, that changed Cuba forever (or at least the last 40 years.)

A bit long and drawn out in parts, the film could easily be cut to about 100 minutes. Garcia spent years trying to get this movie made and managed to raise $10,000,000 which he used to shoot the film over 35 days. It was Magnolia Pictures who bought the North American rights to the film and Landmark Cinema at KENDALL SQUARE CINEMA who is giving the film a theatrical release in the Boston area on MAY 12 .

Kendall Square Cinema website

by Lisa Simmons
110 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #16 After winning Special Mention Award at Cannes Film Festival, Official Selection Award at both Telluride Int’l Film Festival and the Toronto Int’l Film Festival, and screening in over 120 festivals, SISTERS IN LAW opened at the Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge last week, and tonight, MAY 11, is the last screening. Click on the image to the left go to the Kendall’s website or call 617-499-1996.

Fascinating, touching and at times riveting, this day-in-the-life-of documentary takes place in Kumba, Cameroon where heros or should I say heroines, Vera Ngassa (prosecutor) and Judge Beatrice Ntubu fight for justice for women and children who have been victims of abuse, tyranny in a system and culture where men are suppose to be the dominate sex.

Three stories unfold, a battered wife fearfully sues her husband for divorce, despite the disapproval of her family; a pre-teen girl accuses a neighbor of raping her; a young child is beaten and the accused aunt is brought in for questioning. At times you will hold your breath awaiting the verdict and at other times smile and laugh at what transpires both before the prosecutor and the judge.

The wonderful thing about this documentary is that we are brought right into their lives, where we can see, feel, even touch the characters who are taking us on this journey. This is a truly absorbing film and one that should be on your indie view list.

Directed by Kim Longinotto (Divorce Iranian Style) and Florence Ayisi, SISTERS IN LAW is a “Women Make Movies” production. Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitiates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women

SISTERS IN LAW official website

41 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #16 Our second shipment of The Official ONE LOVE dvd’s and cd’s are in and available for sale!! Below are comments from audience members at The Color of Film’s Official ONE LOVE dvd & cd RELEASE PARTY in March at RCC, where we had the co-star of the movie, CHERINE ANDERSON as our special guest:

“Fantastic. I loved it.” “…Thank you for opening that movie to the Boston community. It was REALLY good! Hopefully, more quality movies like that will come out of Jamaica and marketed abroad…”

“…a complete experience to come to a public setting and see a Black love story that ends on a positive note with such talented young people…” “…Better than The Harder They Come…”

“It was really an immense pleasure to attend the ONE LOVE event. I enjoyed watching a bunch of our young, Black people show-casing their talents. Also, I enjoyed the movie, including the young woman from Jamaica who played the lead role…She was wonderful…” “…Proud to be a Jamaican tonight.”

The Official ONE LOVE dvd and cd are the first of many quality, independent films and products available to you, through TCOF. The ONE LOVE dvd is $20 and the soundtrack is $16 by emailing an order to robin@coloroffilm.com or visiting The Color of Film website .Order ONE LOVE dvd and cd here

16 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #16 THE COLOR OF FILM joins the First Weekend Club ©, sponsored by the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC) to promote the idea to Boston movie goers, the importance of going out to see a movie on the first weekend of its release, which is the crucial Hollywood moment. Club members pledge to support movies on the first weekend of release, and encourage other filmgoers to do the same. The Club is designed to financially advocate approval of African American themed films, in addition to those that portray people of color in a more diverse, three-dimensional way. The importance of BHERC is seen in its national appeal. Since its inception, club membership has increased to more than 37,000 filmgoers, with chapters in Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, North Carolina, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Sacramento, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, D.C. and now, Boston, with the efforts of The Color of Film.

To join the TCOF/First Weekend Club, email your name and phone number to robin@coloroffilm.com with First Weekend Club in the subject line.

by Colette Greenstein
125 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #16 Comedian and actor JOHN WITHERSPOON is performing at THE COMEDY CONNECTION in Faneuil Hall on Friday, MAY 12 at 8pm and 10:15pm and Saturday, MAY 13 at 10:30pm.

You probably remember Witherspoon as Ice Cube’s outrageously funny, dog-catching dad ‘Mr. Jones’ in the smash urban trilogy “Friday,” “Next Friday” and “Friday After Next” or as ‘Spoon’ on NBC’s “The Tracy Morgan Show”.

Witherspoon has brought to life some of the most hilarious, unforgettable characters in comedy, including, David Allen Grier’s fashionably challenged, mushroom-wearing father in the romantic comedy “Boomerang” and the quirky, diner- owning father ‘Pops’ on the WB’s “The Wayans Brothers Show.”

In addition to TV, Witherspoon’s film roles include the 1987 comedy “Hollywood Shuffle,” “Vampire in Brooklyn” starring Eddie Murphy, “Bulworth” starring Warren Beatty and Halle Berry, “Ladies Man” with Tim Meadows of Saturday Night Live, Adam Sandler’s “Little Nicky” and in 2004 “Soul Plane” with Snoop Dogg, Method Man and Mo’Nique. Witherspoon has also done voice over work in the animated series “The Boondock’s,” “The Proud Family” and “Kim Possible.”

With no sign of stopping in the near future, Witherspoon’s most recent film “Little Man,” written and directed by Marlon and Keenan Ivory Wayans just completed filming and is schedule to hit the theaters in 2006. Click on his image above, to go to his official website. purchase JOHN WITHERSPOON tickets here

123 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #16 ORIGINATION Salutes The 70′s & 80′s at it’s Annual Spring Concert, MAY 20, 7:30pm at The Back Bay Events Center (formerly known as The John Hancock Hall), 1808 Berkeley Street. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.
The night before, MAY 19, OrigiNation’s Tiny Tots Spring Dance Concert will be at Roxbury Community College‘s Media Arts Center, 1234 Columbus Avenue, Roxbury, showing the talents of the Creative Movement students, ages 3-6, with special guests IMANI, Jr. Tickets are $8.
For info call 617-541- 1875, or click here.

MONET LEDBETTER-GLAUDE’s original musical “JACK’s WORLD” is a story of busy parents so caught up in doing for their family they fail to see their oldest son feels neglected. Now in its eighth year as an annual production, “Jack’s World” is playing MAY 11-13 at the Strand Theater, Dorchester. There are three matinees: Thurs. and Fri. at 10 am and Sat. at three pm; with evening shows, Fri. and Sat. For more info you can click here or call 617-296-3282.

Boston author K.M. THOMPSON, is on a book signing tour for his newly released, controversial novel, ME & MRS. JONES, inspired by teacher-student scandals:
Sat. MAY 13 The Hair Kingdom, 51 Humboldt Ave. 8:30am;
Mon. MAY 15 on Speaking About, BNNtv program, 2:30pm;
Tue. MAY 16 Emerson College, Alumni Panel, The Emerson Room 7pm;
MAY 19-21 Book Expo America, Washington DC Convention Center;
For more info click here.

The Nubian Professionals Network & First Fridays United Boston Chapter is Proud to Support The Boston & Vicinity Club of The National Association of Negro Business And Professional Women’s Clubs’ 2006 Founders’ Day Program at their 40th Annual Sojourner Truth Awards Luncheon, Saturday, MAY 13, 2pm at The Radisson. For info and tickets, call 617-436-3350.

Celebrate Mother’s Day and the 26th anniversary of a Boston tradition with the little ones dressed up as their favorite duck from Robert McCloskey‘s classic book, MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS. Starting on The Boston Garden, opposite the State House, The DUCKLING DAY PARADE, begins at 1pm, rain or shine, Sunday MAY 14.
Children and families retrace the adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and the eight ducklings. Led by the Harvard University Marching Band, with traffic halted by Officer Michael and all ending at the Public Gardens, children that are registered receive ducky prizes and refreshments. Tickets are $25 per family in advance or register the day of the event, beginning at noon. Call 617-723-8144 for more info, or click here.

FYI: The MOTHERS DAY TRIBUTE concert, originally scheduled for Sunday MAY 14 featuring The Intruders and Skip Mahoney at The Berklee Performance Center, has been cancelled. Refunds are available at the point of purchase.

ZABRYNA GUEVARA finds that because she is an actress of color there’s even more of a story she tells in “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” Featured in the Huntington Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s comedy, Guevara describes her role as “not just a maid from France, but a brown maid from France.”
Shakespeare’s LOVE’s LABOUR’s LOST is the tale of the King of Navarre who takes a three-year oath of chastity, along with his three young lords, to focus on academic studies. Their oaths are tested almost immediately by the unannounced visit of the Princess of France with her three beautiful ladies-in-waiting. Secret meetings, misdirected love notes, and battles of wits ensue as the men try, hilariously, to keep their promise.
Opens MAY 12 at its BU theater, 264 Huntington Avenue. For more info call 617-266-0800 or click here.

The Hovey Players present Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream May 19-27 at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street, Roxbury. For ticket info click here.

The 2nd Annual Harlem Book Fair – Roxbury, returns to Roxbury Community College on Saturday, JUNE 24. For information call 617-442-4400.

126 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #16 The Color of Film, Soup Saturday Night Live and ROOTZ TO RHYTHM tv present MONICA HAIM with her new documentary, AWAKE ZION explores the connections between Rastas, reggae culture and Judaism. Through the themes of music, roots and culture, it exposes the senselessness of hate and intolerance by highlighting kinship in the face of difference. Awake Zion will screen, Saturday, JUNE 10, followed by Q&A, and then live reggae music with IGINA and JOURNALIST BANDOO backed by The Mass Pyke Band, at The Mount Horeb Lodge, 110 Norwell Street, on the corner of Harvard Street, in Dorchester. For info, email Robin@coloroffilm.com or call 617-282-1234. TCOF website

The 8th Annual ROXBURY FILM FESTIVAL, presented by ACT Roxbury and The Color of Film Collaborative, Inc. will be the last weekend in JULY this year, so mark your calendars for JULY 26 – 30, 2006.
And this year, for the first time, The Roxbury Film Festival will feature a Musical performance: jazz guitarist DENNIS NELSON (leader of The Unwrapped All Stars). So after a day of films and music documentaries, DENNIS NELSON and his band will present a special jazz concert on Saturday, JULY 29, 8pm in The Blackman Auditorium, Northeastern University. For info call 617- 282-1234 or email Robin@coloroffilm.com

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