Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #17

May 18th, 2006  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report


by Kay Bourne
128 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #17VCR, a poet of the people, takes to heart the wise adage, “write what you know.” You’ll chuckle at some of his rhymes and be emotionally touched too at his take on the people who inhabit the black community.

Born, raised, and continuing to reside in Dorchester, the 1986 graduate of Hyde Park High went on to Northeast College of Communications and New England School of Art with the idea of getting into the music industry.

Poetry became his beat, however. He writes and performs his own pieces that reflect on life in Roxbury, and he sponsors regular programs where other poets from the community can be heard. His VerBaLizAtiOn open mic series has been going on for six years to showcase spoken word, hip hop, and song and dance performers. VCR also programs films at these evenings, as well. The 7 – 9:30 pm evenings hosted by VCR take place in a gallery at the Museum of the National Center of Afro American Artists, 300 Walnut Ave in Roxbury, and are sponsored by the Museum. For more information, you can contact VCR at 617-480-7663.

The next VerBaLizAtiOn is MAY 25, VCR’s mother’s birthday. The featured poet is the teenaged, poised, and dynamic, SOFIA SNOW, recently published in the “2006 Roxbury Literary Annual Youth Edition.”

VCR can be heard on his own CD, “Poetic Insanity,” which is available at Tape Connections in Grove Hall and Skippy Whites in Egleston Square. The release contains some of VCR’s most popular verse: “Tooth Decay,” “Alphabet Killaz,” and “That Other Brother.”

Other poets whose work VCR reads regularly include Askia Toure, Saul Williams, The Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, and Langston Hughes. “I get a lot of soul and strength from them,” he says, “the words, the concepts they use, they inspire me to a revolutionary state of mind and one that is creative as well. They push me to write better.”

This year’s African American Theater Festival featured a poem by VCR entitled “Love & Nappiness.”

“I wrote it originally to be performed at a natural hair show; it’s a poem regarding black hair with a message that there’s nothing wrong with the nappy, dreads, braids, very short Afro hair styles. You don’t need to get weaves, perms, extensions. You don’t need to do that because the way you look is a gift from God and only God can tell you that you’re beautiful.”

An exerpt from “Love & Nappiness” -by VCR:

“…Relaxers doesn’t really make you relax And it’s not really just for you! You want to be dark and lovely, right? Boot that European culture out your nappy apartment And get yourself a real roommate Your hair is as genuine as a precious African sculpture “African I ain’t no African!” Why so ashamed to love what you have inherit in yourself?…”

From Annie With The Wig On, Poems By Ted Thomas, Jr.
132 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #17 Eleventh grader, SOFIA SNOW writes in the same social activist/political tradition as established poet VCR – and to stirring effect, as her performance at Hibernian Hall last week demonstrated.

One of the numbers of gifted young writers printed in ACT Roxbury’s newly released “Roxbury Literary Annual 2006 – Youth Edition”, Snow’s rapidly “spat” verse “A Public Service Announcement” fired off a wake up call of pointed barbs at teachers and school administrators who’re asleep at the switch.

The event was a dinner for teen writers who’d attended a writer’s workshop during February school vacation week and their families. Twenty two students from throughout the city, including the Orchard Gardens neighborhood adjacent to Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square proudly shared the publication with moms, dads, grandparents, and siblings.

Also reading were student authors Derek Thompson, Mei Chen, Carolyn Allston, Darius Cephas-King, Glenna Diggs, Cody Judge, Anthony Thomas, Dante Poole, Celese Watler, and Abrianna Bowie.

The Madison Park/ACT Roxbury program and publication was co-sponsored by the “Boston Globe Foundation” with assistance from members of Junior Achievement of Eastern MA company program at Roxbury Community College and the newly formed New England Arts Group. ACT director, Candelaria Silva-Collins gave the welcoming remarks that started off the evening.

Poet Ted Thomas, one of the teachers at the writing camp, had the audience chuckling as he concluded the evening’s program by reading from his poem:

To A Roach That Has Outdone Me Again
well, you’ve done it again,slipped past my blowsand disappeared into a crackin the bathroom wall.

you think you’re slick, buti know what you’re up to. i’vealways known that youcreep out at night, when i’masleep, to gorge yourselfon cornbread crumbsand the juice from watermelon rinds.

and i know that you make babies‘cause i’ve seen them, littlebrown specks running like madwhen they see me coming.

i’ve thrown out the watermelon rinds,swept up the cornbread crumbs and sprayedin the crack where you live, butyou’ve still survived, walking outof the shadows all bad when company comes and running acrossthe dinner table whilemy woman and me are eating.

but i’ll get you, i have to,or the next thing i knowyou’ll be asking for equality.

by Adrienne Hawkins
129 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #17 Poetry in motion! PROJECT BANDALOOP, at the Shubert last weekend, turned out to be a cross between bungee jumping, rock climbing, hanging, and dance.

Wonderfully crafted, the various suspensions bent time and space.

With pure upper body strength, the dancers were able to hold on to something that looked like a rock climbing wall. There they accomplished small, finely sculpted movement on a vertical plane (instead of the usual linear plane that as an audience we are used to seeing dancers perform on).

Putting leaps with small ballet steps such as coupe, together with distinct changes of direction, they created what looked like an Escher print. We could see the execution of the movement, and by vertical layer, and a rondo of movement, how the “print” began and ended.

Watching the wonderful Project Bandaloop is similar to playing tic, tac, toe in three dimension.

The monsoon days of May in Boston meant that this skilled troupe changed its plan to jump off the side of the building (which is in the middle of the theater district). Thank goodness! I don’t know if my heart could have taken watching them on ropes made slippery by the downpour.

by Kay Bourne
(l to r) Nehassaiu DeGannes, Charlie Ek, Stephanie Burlington, Elizabeth Keiser, Zandra Bennett.

130 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #17 To this day, nobody knows where the bullet riddenbody of the assassinated Frederic Garcia Lorcarests. His poetry and plays live on, however,despite the Fascist dictator Franco’s mandate to hissoldiers to obliterate the writer and his work.

Currently, THE PROVIDENCE BLACK REPERTORY COMPANY’satmospheric production of the Spanish author’s finaldrama, the compelling “The House of Bernada Alba,”is playing weekends. The Café is at 276 WestminsterSt. in the Rhode Island capitol’s downtowntheater district.

The company’s theater space is unusual; you enter anelegant bar and at the far end of the room is thespace where the play is performed. Comfortable sofasas well as upright chairs provide the seating. Thetier of chairs and the sofas face each other acrossa divide, and that alleyway is the “stage.” There isa balcony too where you can sit to see the play.

From the very opening moments of “The House ofBernada Alba,” this unique layout is put to excitinguse by director Nadia Mahdi. Chatting with oneanother, a maid (Cecily Mercedes Torres) and ahousekeeper, Poncia (Linda Monchik) set the tale ofa tyrannical mother bent on maintaining a socialstanding in the small community at the cost of herchildren’s dreams. Clever puppetry from set andlight designer Jeremy Woodward represents the restof the villagers of the small town.

The story begins as Alba (Cilla Julia Bento) returnsfrom her husband’s funeral accompanied by the fivedaughters. They enter through the same door theaudience did, a solemn line of mourners dressedentirely in black, their faces obscured by enormousblack umbrellas held open against the rain.

Bernarda’s edict to her grown daughters is that theywill remain in mourning for the next eight yearswith a single exception. The oldest and plainestdaughter Angustias (Zandra Bennett) is permitted asuitor, the best looking man in the town, Pepe elRomano.

This Lothario,however, is also courting the youngest daughter, thelively Adela (Nehassaiu deGannes) on the sly. Theother daughters are also taken with Pepe’s charms.The house of Bernado Alba is a pressure cooker ofromantic imaginings and repressed sexual longings.Gradually the tension builds to an almost unbearablelevel of intensity with tragic results.

The acting isuneven. Everyone does good work, but theatricalexperience shows with the outstanding performancescoming from the two most veteran performers, LindaMonchik as Poncia and Nehassaiu deGannes as Adela.

Bernada Alba’styranny is a subtle political allusion to Franco but”The House of Bernada Alba” is most gripping in itsacute observations of the women who will hold yourinterest throughout the drama.

Federico GarciaLorca had a fondness for American black culture. In1929, when he visited New York, his favoriteneighborhood was Harlem. He loved African Americanspirituals, which reminded him of Spanish gypsymusic known as “deep songs.”

124 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #17 New Rep’s production of RAGTIME, featuring Maurice Parent and Stephanie Umoh, has been extended to MAY 28. The Sunday MAY 21 performance will be ASL interpreted,and on, Friday, MAY 19, “Ragtime” will have transliteration.

New Repertory Theatre is in residence at the ArsenalCenter for the Arts, located at 321 Arsenal Street inWatertown, accessible by major routes and on the #70 or #70A bus. Purchase tickets online below, or call 617-923-8487. NEW REPERTORY THEATRE website

by Colette Greenstein
131 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #17 “OVER THE HEDGE,” DreamWorks’ new animated film,tackles the issue of urban sprawl. The story is toldmostly from the point of view of a friendly, buthungry, band of animals. The congenial posse is ledby RJ, a con-artist, raccoon (voiced by BruceWillis) and Vern, (wonderfully played by GarryShandling) an intrepid and cautious turtle.

Vern and his merry band of furry friends wake upfrom their winter hibernation to find that theirhome has been invaded by a giant green hedge. Withthe single thought in mind of Where’s some food?,Vern, as leader, decides to go to the other side ofthe hedge and ends up finding a whole new, scaryworld that includes humans, cars, SUV’s and gadgets.

After a heart-racing adventure on the “human side”of the hedge, Vern and the gang are introduced tothe planned community called El Rancho Camelot byRJ, who refers to the hedge as the “gateway to thegood life”. RJ takes Vern on a tour of theneighborhood where humans who drive SUV’s aredescribed as “slowly losing their ability to walk”and “these guys live to eat” and where a dining roomtable is called the “altar where they worship andpray for food”.

With the ulterior motive of his obligation to repayVincent the Bear (Nick Nolte), from whom heoriginally stole a winter’s supply of food, RJ takesadvantage of the innocence of Vern and the gang tohelp him steal food along with a red wagon from thehumans who live on the other side of the hedge. RJcapitalizes on Vern’s insecurities and niftilyconvinces the other animals that human food and hisway of life is much, much better than how they areused to living. The humans are not happy about theinvasion.

The warm and fuzzy “Over The Hedge” has a messageabout sharing this planet and its resources and howto balance human need for expansion and technologywith the needs of “Mother Earth” and its naturalinhabitants. Young children will enjoy the variouscolorful and endearing characters who are voiced bya superb, all-star cast.

The film is based on the popular comic strip of thesame name which has been running since 1955, and iswritten by Michel Fry and illustrated by T Lewis. Director/writer, Karey Kirkpatrick (“Chicken Run”screenwriter) makes his directorial debut on “Overthe Hedge” and is joined by director Tim Johnson(“Antz”) and producer Bonnie Arnold (“Toy Story” and”Tarzan”).

41 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #17 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 tothe 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 publicsetting and see a Black love story that ends on a positive note withsuch talented young people…” “…Better than The HarderThey Come…”

“It was really an immense pleasure to attend the ONELOVE 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 aJamaican 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 #17 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 moviegoers, 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 thefirst weekend of release, and encourage other filmgoers todo the same. The Club is designed to financially advocateapproval of African American themed films, in addition tothose that portray people of color in a more diverse,three-dimensional way. The importance of BHERC is seen in its nationalappeal. Since its inception, club membership has increasedto more than 37,000 filmgoers, with chapters in Chicago,Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, NorthCarolina, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Sacramento,Tennessee, Texas, Washington, D.C. and now, Boston, with theefforts 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.

127 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #17 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.

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 cd release jazz concert on Saturday, JULY 29, 8pm. For info call 617-282-1234 or email Robin@coloroffilm.com

ORIGINATION’s Tiny Tots Spring Dance Concert will be MAY 19, 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
On Sat. May 20, 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. For info call 617-541-1875, or clickhere.

Sunday, MAY 21 1pm at Museum of Fine Arts, The BOSTON GAY & LESBIAN FILM/VIDEO FESTIVAL presents the films:Jumpin’ the Broom: The New Covenant by Debra Wilson (2005, 30 min.), and The Gay Marriage Thing by Stephanie Higgins (2005, 46 min.) Award-winning filmmaker Debra A. Wilson’s (Butch Mystique) latest film highlights black lesbian and gay couples who share personal and heartfelt stories that challenge levels of intimacy between two people. Their commitment redefines and honors love, family values, politics, and religion in today’s society. The film also features best-selling author Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
The Gay Marriage Thing presents the politics, piety, and people embroiled in and affected by the heated debate over same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.This special program is co-presented by The Color of Film. For more information, and tickets, click here. For the full Festival schedule, click here.

THE AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE and THE FREEDOM HOUSE invite you to their Inaugural Cooperative Event withA Special Film Screening and Discussion of the2005 Oscar Winner for Best Picture, “CRASH”on Sunday, MAY 21 at 1:30 PM at The Freedom House,(Please note the time change from 3:00 to 1:30)14 Crawford Street, Dorchester. To rsvp, email Boston@ajc.org or call 617-457-8700.

The 8th annual BOSTON THEATER MARATHON is Sunday, MAY 21, at The Stanford Calderwood Pavilion, the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, with ten hours of fifty, ten-minute plays by Boston’s best playwrights. Go see Ed Bullins’ piece produced by Our Place Theater Project and Playwright Kirstin Greenidge whose play is being produced by Company One along with many, many other wonderful pieces.
The marathon begins at noon and the plays are performed one after another, continuously until 10pm. You can see any show, or stay all day with an all-day pass, available for a single price of $30 (tax-deductible) which entitles you to move in and and out of the theatre all day long. Click here to purchase an all-day theater pass.

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

On Tuesday, MAY 23, The Color of Film presents two half hour documentaries by LaPlaza/WGBH producer, Angelica Brisk: SWEET 15 (synopsis: In the United States, Latino families of all economic classes spend thousands of dollars to create an event that will honor their daughters and dazzle their communities. Despite the financial pressure this event creates, Rosa Santiago has decided that it is important enough to make the sacrifice. But two weeks before the big event, Santiago’s plans unravel, and she is unsure if she will be able to pull it off.)
and FAR FROM CUBA (synopsis: In 1960, as a Marxist revolution swept Cuba, rumors swirled that Castro’s government would take children away from their parents and make them wards of the state. Many anxious parents used special visas to place their sons and daughters on flights to Miami and into the care of the Cuban Children’s Program – a program organized by several religious organizations and funded by the US Government. Dubbed Operation Pedro Pan, the resulting transportation of 14,000 children grew into the largest child refugee program in US history.) These screenings are free and open to the public in The Boston Public Library – Copley’s Rabb Lecture Hall, followed by Q&A with Angelica Brisk.

The Color of Film and RCC Media Arts present the staged reading of LOVE SIGNS (AND OTHER MATTERS OPEN TO INTERPRETATION) an american sign language film, written by Lanice Lumpkins-Obryant, on Thursday, MAY 25, 6:30pm at Roxbury Community College’s Media Arts Center, 1234 Columbus Avenue. Free.
G. Harriet Moore (played by Gaétane Joseph) is a social worker on the brink of a meltdown, when she finds herself in a middle of a custody battle with a deaf couple. Forced to choose between a second chance on love or keeping her job, “Harri” struggles against the system that was once her ally. This original and at times funny screenplay is part love story and part social commentary on similarities between Deafness and Blackness as cultural identities. Love Signs (And Other Matters Open to Interpretation), produced by BirthName Productions is in pre-production, with filming scheduled to begin in early June. Info: 617-445-6051.

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:
MAY 27-28 Mondawmin Mall, Baltimore, MD;
JUNE 10 Jamaicaway Books 5pm, Jamaica Plain;
JUNE 24 Roxbury’s Harlem Bookfair;
For more info click here.

Saturday, MAY 27BloodSkinLand Productions presents…“MAYLENNIUM VI”The 6th Annual Cultural ExperienceBringing you a taste of Beantown’s finestin poetry, spoken word, rhyme and song. at OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center 11 Walnut Park St., Roxbury/Egleston Sq. Showtime, 5:30pm $5 admissionWith performances by:SOFIA SNOW,MR. COBBS,MICH BROWNE,JT & THE DIRTY TRUTH,AZIZI THE POET,Z-GOD,LETIA LaROK,A.W.O.L.,MARIA LACY.For more info contact VCR at 617-480-7663or e-mail bloodskinland@verizon.net.

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.
Runs until June 11 at the BU theater, 264 Huntington Avenue. For more info call 617-266-0800 or 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 #17 The Color of Film, Soup Saturday Night Live and ROOTZ TO RHYTHM tv present MONICA HAIM with her new documentary, AWAKE ZION which 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, twice on Saturday, JUNE 10: 4:30pm for all ages at $5, and then an evening program at $20 with the screening 9:30pm sharp followed by Q&A with the filmmaker 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.

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The Color of Film Collaborative is a non-profit organization that supports and fosters the individuals and organizations in the creation of diverse images of people of color in film, video, theater and other media, by providing artists with opportunities to exhibit, distribute and find funding for their work, as well as provide a supportive environment where they can share and develop their ideas, their vision and their work with their peers. About Us

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