Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #18

May 25th, 2006  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report


by Kay Bourne
134 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #18 One of Hollywood’s favorite comedic stars came to the silver screen straight out of Roxbury.

When ALLEN CLAYTON HOSKINS, Jr. acted in his first “Our Gang” shorts as “Farina,”he was only one years old. Born Aug. 9, 1920, Hoskins appeared in over 105 of the entertaining films over a nine year period making the transition from silent film to “talkies.”

Hoskins acted in more of the “Our Gang” comedies than any one else, and he and the chubby Joe Cobb were the most popular of the child stars in the series both with audiences and the movie executives.

The head of the studio Hal Roach once said that “they were both excellent and so well behaved too. But I think Farina particularly was one of the finest natural actors we had in the Gang. He could cry great big tears in just a few seconds. You’d think his heart was breaking then they’d cut the camera and he’d be back playing again.” (This quotation, along with much of information for this profile, came from “Our Gang/The Life And Times of the Little Rascals” by Leonard Maltin and Richard W. Bann, Crown Publishers Inc, 1979.)

Arguably, Hollywood’s first black child star, Allen Hoskins’s last contract for the series gave him $350 a week, more than any other kid (even Jackie Cooper) was earning at the time. Most of the children started at $30 a week.

Many years later, when the “Our Gang” film shorts played on television, the name of the series was changed to “The Little Rascals.”

An allusion to the “Our Gang” comedies provides an important moment in the musical about American society at the start of the 1900′s, “RAGTIME,” the superb production, nearing the end of its run, this Sunday, at New Repertory Theatre in Watertown.

Hoskins found some work in the movies after “Our Gang,” however, the war intervened. “Time” magazine juxtaposed “then and now” photos showing a tiny Farina with melting grin beside a husky, close cropped Army private Allen Clayton Hoskins.

After World War II, Hoskins returned to Hollywood but found he couldn’t get steady enough work in films, so he changed careers.

To separate himself from his Farina celebrity and establish a new identity as a licensed psychological counselor, he moved near San Francisco. There he became supervising director of adult workshop programs at the Alameda County Association for the Mentally Retarded.

Married and with six children, Hoskins also founded a company for creative projects called Alfran. In 1975 he was inducted into the Black Filmmakers’ Hall of Fame. He died of cancer five years later, at age 59.

Purchase RAGTIME tickets here

by Kay Bourne. photo by Michelle Aguillon
137 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #18Michelle M. Aguillon’s rollicking production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is lots of fun – - – and commendable for the clarity she has brought to a story that’s a hilarious muddle.

You have only one more weekend to enjoy this light hearted fare at the Roxbury Center for the Arts at Hibernian Hall. Tickets are only $15 with seniors and students $13. Group rates are negotiable by contacting michelle@hoveyplayers.com. The show is a joint production between the newly renovated RCAHH and Hovey Players.

There’s a morning matinee Friday, MAY 26 at 10 am and evening performances MAY 26 and 27, at 8 pm. For more information go online to Roxbury Center for the Arts, below, or call 781-893-9171. This is the debut season for plays at Hibernian Hall which ACT Roxbury hopes to make steady fare for the Dudley Station area.

Shakespeare’s popular comedy takes place in Athens in a nearby forest, doubtless, sweetly smelling of the pines that give the city a wonderful fragrance.

This magical spot, however, is also alive with the mischievous fauns and nymphs of mythic fame. Here, a pair of human lovers romp, while unseen to them a marital war is going on between the king of the fairies and his queen who aren’t seeing eye to eye. The forest is further populated by a group of ambitious work men known in Shakespeare’s time as “mechanicals” who are rehearsing a play for a contest where the winner gets to put on a show for a royal Athenian couple’s nuptials.

Jazz trumpet great Louis Armstrong and band leader Benny Goodman saw in “Midsummer Night’s Dream” the makings of a hot musical which they staged in 1939 on Broadway. The scenery for “Swingin’ the Dream” set in a New Orleans canebrake was based on Walt Disney cartoons with choreography by Agnes DeMille.

Armstrong played Bottom the Fireman, one of the mechanicals, while his buddy Flute the Iceman was played by Oscar Pope. Moms Mabley played Quince, another mechanical. Butterfly McQueen played the mischievous sprite Puck, who causes lots of confusion. The primarily Black company also saw the three Dandridge Sisters – Vivian, Etta, and Dorothy – as little pixies.

The acting of Aguillon’s cast, which has some people of color but not a majority, is definitely praiseworthy, for the hectic pace they carry off with aplomb and the individual characterizations which are memorable.

To mention only two performances out of a whole ensemble worthy of note, Tiny Michelle Estrada’s small stature and feisty performance breathes new life into lines Shakespeare wrote for Hermia, while muscular Claude Del’s consternation at playing the female lead in the mechanicals’ play is a howl. (Del does double duty as a sprite as well as the role of Flute which is a marvel of quick costume changes backstage.)

Costumes by Kimmerie H.O. Jones were not only serviceable for the running around these characters do but beautiful as well. The forest was cleverly designed by John MacKenzie who also did the lights.

Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall

by Kay Bourne
141 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #18Lovers of screwball comedies will go bananas over “Kong’s Night Out” where two story lines intersect, one familiar to all from the 1933 silent movie “King Kong.” That classic film concluded with a furry, irate, gorilla giant atop the Empire State Building, clutching his love interest as he ducks a hail of bullets shot from a circling airplane. That memorable drama is interwoven in a comical way with a backstage story of two rival theatrical producers who’ll stop at nothing to be the sole titan of Broadway.

This brand new comedy from Boston playwright JACK NEARY, “Kong’s Night Out” continues through June 3 at the 140 Clarendon Street home of Lyric Stage Company, where the popular “Crowns” played earlier this year.

WIN a pair of tickets to this hilarious comedy, KONG’s NIGHT OUT, courtesy of Lyric Stage and The Kay Bourne Arts Report. Send an email Robin@coloroffilm.com Kong’s Night Out in the subject line.

Larry Coen, whose fine work you know from his great comic roles at Wheelock Family Theater and Ryan Landry’s Gold Dust Orphan productions, stars as the frustrated producer Myron Siegel.

We first see a nearly unhinged Siegel as he rushes into the swank hotel suite he’s rented, followed on his heels by his equally outraged mom. The show Siegel believed would finally trounce anything put up by his arch rival, Carl Denham, isn’t selling tickets!

It seems that Denham has brought a secret attraction into the theater across the street which he’ll unveil the very night Siegel’s “Foxy Felicia” is slated to open. Siegel is bent on uncovering this great mystery and, if all goes well, stealing Denham’s thunder.

Siegel’s loyal henchman and his ditzy niece throw themselves into Siegel’s manic gambits; his wife is less cooperative. Meanwhile rumors mount as to the very large and monumentally angry “monkey” Denham plans to display.

Visit The Lyric Stage website by clicking below or call 617-585-5678 for show times and to purchase tickets.

KONG’s NIGHT OUT ticket info

by Colette Greenstein
138 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #18How do you have the brass to ask stand-up comedian WANDA SYKES to play a skunk in your movie?

“It was a little soft, the way they pitched it to me: ‘You as a skunk.’ And they all kind of ducked,” jokes the sharp tongued Sykes during a recent trip to Boston to talk about her role in the animated movie “OVER THE HEDGE.”

As the eminent Russian acting coach Stanislavski advised, she prepared for the role.”I did the usual no bathing for several weeks,” she quips.

She found the role easy to plumb. “Skunks are profiled,” Sykes observes. “Really. You just look at the skunk and oh, okay, stay away from the skunk. You don’t get to know the skunk. You come in with all these preconceived notions about the skunk. I related to that.”

The animators looked at Sykes’s movements carefully when she first read for the part. “They used my movements,” she said; “but I had gotten rid of the tail back in ’82. It really wasn’t working for me.”

The DreamWorks picture relates the adventures of a mischievious raccoon (Bruce Willis) and his sensitive best buddy turtle (Gary Shandling) along with other forest creatures who scavenge for food in suburbia. Wanda Sykes plays Stella, the skunk.

An adept stand-up comedian, Sykes is a whiz at ad libbing lines and come-backs. When she’s given a script, however, the urge to ad lib comes only when the written lines are weak or don’t work for her character. She found “Over the Hedge” solid as material.

“It was solid and really funny,” she said, so she was okay being locked into a script. “We got the lines the night before and had to have them memorized.”

What she did find awkward was the lack of audience reaction. “You’re in a booth by yourself. You’re not in there with other actors. You can see the producers and the director, however. So when you look at them and they’re laughing, that feels good.”

Sykes really doesn’t see herself as an actor. “I go in there and play myself,” she admits. Recently, though, she’s considered following the lead of comics Jamie Foxx (Ray Charles) and Mike Epps (working on the Richard Pryor story) doing bio-pics.”As a little girl, I remember Moms Mabley. She was a real influence on me. Seeing her. So maybe a bio pic. Actually right now, I’m reading a book on Hattie McDaniels,” Sykes said. (The KAY BOURNE ARTS REPORT reviewed the Hattie McDaniels book in issue 10.)

124 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #18New Rep’s production of RAGTIME, featuring Maurice Parent and Stephanie Umoh, has been extended to MAY 28.Click the image to the right to go to The New Rep’s website for ticket information.

New Repertory Theatre is in residence at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, located at 321 Arsenal Street in Watertown, accessible by major routes and on the #70 or #70A bus. Purchase tickets online or call 617-923-8487.

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE extended through JUNE 10. In response to unprecedented demand, SpeakEasy Stage Company producing artistic director Paul Daigneault has announced that he has extended SpeakEasy’s hit production of the musical CAROLINE, OR CHANGE for an additional week, thru June 10.

The show, which was produced in association with the North Shore Music Theatre, has played to sold-out houses and rave reviews since opening May 5 in the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA), 527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End.

Tickets for the added performances are now on sale and are available by calling the Boston Theatre Scene box-office at 617-933-8600 or by going online at the link provided below. Groups of ten or more can call SpeakEasy Stage Marketing Director Jim Torres at 617-482-3279 to find out more about group discount offers. Purchase CAROLINE or CHANGE tickets here

136 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #18Have you ever wondered why Jews and Rastas share the same Star of David, old testament scriptures and both make references to Zion, Jerusalem and King Solomon?

The Color of Film, Soup Saturdays and ROOTZ TO RHYTHM tv present MONICA HAIM with her new documentary, AWAKE ZION which explores the connections between Rastas, reggae culture and Judaism. AWAKE ZION originally screened at 2005 Boston Jewish Film Festival, and now Monica is thrilled to bring AWAKE ZION into the Dorchester community. AWAKE ZION includes Rastafarians, Jews, Americans, Jamaicans, Ethiopians and Israelis. Through the themes of music, roots and culture, reggae enthusiast, Monica Haim examines the history of Rasta, Reggae and modern-day Jewish Reggae.This documentary connects seemingly opposite cultures and celebrates music and its ability to unite people of all faiths.

AWAKE ZION screens, twice on Saturday, JUNE 10, an afternoon, all ages screening at 4:30pm for only $5 and free under 6. Then at the evening program, tickets are $20 with the screening at 9:30pm sharp followed by Q&A with the filmmaker and live reggae music at midnight 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. AWAKE ZION official website

142 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #18The 2005 BOSTON JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL presents the film LIVE AND BECOME (Va, vis et deviens) by Radu Mihaileanu, as part of its Encore Series, at the Museum of Fine Arts, this Sunday, MAY 28, at 1pm and again on Sunday, JUNE 4 at 3pm. Actor Sirak M. Sabahat will be present at the June 4 screening. (In French with English subtitles. 143 minutes)

From the director of TRAIN OF LIFE comes this epic story of an Ethiopian boy who is airlifted from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses. Although he thrives as an adoptive son of a loving family, he is plagued by two big secrets: He is neither a Jew nor an orphan, just an African boy who survived. “Milhaileanu trades on his own childhood experiences to create an engrossing, acutely observed and emotionally searing film about culture, identity, and belonging” (Jane Schoettle, Toronto International Film Festival). Winner of best screenplay at the 2006 César Awards.

Tickets are $8 for MFA and BJFF members, seniors, and students; $9 for all others. Please call the Museum of Fine Arts Box Office at 617- 369-3306 for ticket information. LIVE and BECOME ticket info

by Lisa Simmons and Nick Simmons
140 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #18To be or not to be, as Shakespeare so eloquently put it, is really what it’s all about, right? Well, in XMEN: THE LAST STAND the question presents itself as mutants must make the decision to be or not to be human, to conform or embrace their differences.

The final chapter in this trilogy (or so they say), is speckled with corny dialogue and sappy moments but works in some respects that will have you finding yourself watching it over and over again, even though you might not want to admit it.

Yes, it’s a bit uneven as some scenes are more climaxtic than others, but Brett Ratner (XMEN 3′s new director) seems to get his point across through all the fire, explosions and just plain intensity that builds within certain scenes. It is a definitely a summer movie, jam packed with action, adventure and incredible special effects.

The story centers around a new invention, an antibody that is supposed to turn mutants into humans. This so called “cure” was to be a good thing for the population by decreasing the amount of “chaos” that the mutants cause on a daily basis.

This antibody has Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) once again at odds and the two factions face off against each other in a match of strength and power. It’s the overly powerful, out of control, Dark Phoenix, also known as Jean Gray (Famke Janssen) who is used as the tool that is wedged between good and evil. Jean appears in most of this film as Phoenix, her dark side and her alter ego who is wreaking havoc on the entire world. I have to say, this is definitely a woman I wouldn’t want to get on the bad side of.

The camera closely follows the main characters, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Storm (Halle Berry) who are the only two teachers left in the Academy. They pull it altogether to save the day with the help of a new mutant character, Dr. Hank “Beast” McCoy (Kelsey Grammer). The film actually really starts to come together at the end when we see the mutants using their powers against each other in the ultimate test of good vs. evil.

Well, I am sure you can figure out what happens at the end, but don’t be to quick to leave your seat. If I were you, I would wait until the very end or you just might miss what all the talk is going to be about at the water cooler, the little league field and the boardroom, and this is a conversation you definitely don’t want to miss out on. It’s actually the most informative scene in the entire movie and it’s only 30 seconds long.

144 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #18 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

143 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #18THE MASS. CENTER FOR NATIVE AMERICAN AWARENESS holds its “Spring Planting Moon Pow-Wow and Native American Crafts Festival” this weekend, May 27-29, 11am-6pm daily at Marshfield Fairgrounds, Main Street (Route 3A). Adults $5, Seniors & MCNAA Members $4; Children (6-12 years) $2; Children 5 years and under, FREE. Native Dancers admitted FREE.

This year’s features include the Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers from Mashpee who will perform The Alligator Dance, The Round Dance, The Mosquito Dance, The Duck Dance, The Moccasin Dance, and The Rabbit Dance on Saturday and Sunday. Also, the Wolf Cry Singers, an inter-tribal women’s hand drum group, will share their traditional and contemporary Mi’kMaq, Cherokee, Navajo, Abenaki and Delaware songs and chants, plus their own songs which they’ve added to their collection that are in English.

Arts and Crafts which include genuine buckskin goods, sterling silver & turquoise jewelry, mandellas, dreamcatchers, beaded jewelry, stone carvings, wall paintings, vases, fans, rattles, blankets, and much more, will be on sale as well as native foods including buffalo burgers, sausage, and chili, marinated venison, succotash, smoked bluefish, steamed clams, wild rice, quahog chowder, clam cakes, vegetarian dishes, blueberry drink, red corn pudding and more.

For further information about the pow-wow, the program, or MNCAA, please call 617-884-4227 or email: mcnaa@aol.com. PLANTING MOON POW-WOW website

133 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #18The 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 is in pre- production, with filming scheduled to begin in early June. Info: 617-445-6051.

Every Sunday is BIG FUNNY SUNDAY, hosted by The Dynamic Duo of Comedy, featuring DJ T at Emerald Isle, 1501 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester starting at 7pm. For info contact comedian Corey Manning at or call him at 617-445-2162. tryme@coreymanning.com

CASTING CALL— There will be open auditions of males and females ages 18-70 of all ethnic backgrounds for a Boston University graduate thesis film – a comedy about speed dating – on Friday, MAY 26, Noon-4pm in BU’s College of Communication Room 109, and Saturday, May 27, 9am-1pm in BU’s College of Arts & Sciences Room 116. The bigger the personality, the better. The film will be shot June 16-18 in Boston. Please bring a headshot or photo and resume. For info call 617-267-5879.

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 27 BloodSkinLand Productions presents… “MAYLENNIUM VI” The 6th Annual Cultural Experience Bringing you a taste of Beantown’s finest in poetry, spoken word, rhyme and song. at OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center 11 Walnut Park St., Roxbury/Egleston Sq. Showtime, 5:30pm$5 admission With 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 617-480-7663 or 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.

127 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #18The 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

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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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