Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #23

September 21st, 2006  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report

A TASTE OF FILM – October 14

(pictured: Mama Africa, Egun-egun and DeAma Battle)
187 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #23From her third floor apartment window, DeAmaBattle, founder of The Art of Black Dance and Music,could see the elderly man making his way toward herhouse. One of her former company members, LizColeman, was walking arm in arm with the Nigerianpriest she wanted DeAma to meet.

At the gate, Baba Ogundea stopped. He’d beencarrying a walking stick that he now lowered to thesidewalk. He started tapping. Tap. Tap. Tap. He cameinside. Tap. Tap. Tap.

After Battle welcomed him, she asked why hecontinued to tap his walking stick. “There’s anegun-egun in this house,” was his reply. DeAma hadno idea what item could be in her house thatcontained a god.

“I need to see it. I need to bless it. I need toname it,” said the 80 year old priest, tapping hisstick and looking around her apartment.

Battle thought perhaps the egun the priest sensedmight reside in the raffia costume she had in hercloset. She dragged out the straw outfit that lookedlike a hut. “No. That’s not it,” said Baba Ogundea.

Puzzled, Battle at last considered her Mama Africacostume, made from yards and yards of material,strips Battle had cut from costumes she made alongthe way of a 30 year career in African dance. Shespread the costume out on the floor.

“Aaah, yes, this is the egun-egun,” he told anastonished Battle, who until this day had never metthe priest.

“I have to bless it,” he said, walking around thecostume, tapping his stick and chanting.

He told Battle, “this costume is the “Creator ofBeautiful Dances,” and he wrote that phrase insidethe costume “ore be fi yo sanyo.”

The priest furthered instructed Battle that when shewears the costume, as she will for the openingnumber “Kulu se Mama” of the 29th John ColtraneMemorial Concert, that she must introduce it as “TheCreator of Beautiful Dances.” Battle will be completelyencased in the giant costume and won’t be seen.

The tribute to mothers, Coltrane’s music arranged bySa Davis and sung by Stan Strickland, starts off theannual tribute to Coltrane at NortheasternUniversity’s Blackman Theatre, Saturday, September 23. Thisyear’s concert has a theme, An African Legacy: TheBlack Continuum from Africa Through the Caribbean tothe USA. This year would have seen Coltrane’s 80thbirthday.

Host Eric Jackson, the WGBH Radio host of “Eric InThe Evening” will introduce the dances and musicthroughout the program. The spiritual “Kulu seMama,” with its cowbells, conch shells, andchanting, is the initial track on John Coltrane’salbum by that name and from a period, 1965, whenColtrane started his own recordings. The reissue CDis on Impulse! Records.

“Impulse! That’s the house that Coltrane built,”comments Leonard Brown, a scholar on the faculty atNortheastern and the director of the annual concerts(and a saxophone player). Brown is completing a bookas well, “John Coltrane and Black America’s questFor Freedom, Spirituality, and The Music.”

He says of the concerts,”we’re not trying to be John Coltrane; we’llinterpret his music in our ways and the listenersreturn year after year. I think the feeling for Johnhas expanded.”

As to Coltrane’s sound, Brown thinks, “insome ways, while he was always trying to get to hissound, it’s in the mid 50′s that you really hearit. When he leaves Milesand goes to Monk. Studying (Thelonius) Monk gave himso much confidence.

“Miles gave him room to play. Monk gave him beautyand mysticism,” said Brown.

The memorial concert is produced by Brown withEmmett G. Price, III. The line-up includes CarlAtkins, Donal Fox, Tim Ingles,Yoron Israel, BillLowe, Jason Palmer, Bill Pierce, George W. Russell,Jr., Syd Smart, Stan Strickland, Igmar Thomas, GaryValente, Davis and Brown. The dancers are Battle,Zucan Bandele, Ife Bolden, Harolyn Bowden, andMarianne Harkness. (by Kay Bourne)

Tickets are $20; $10 for senior citizens and NU faculty and staff and $5 for NU students. 20% discount for WGBH members. For further ticket information call 617-373-2247.

Purchase tickets here

by Caldwell Titcomb
(Pictured: Morris Robinson – Bass)

184 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #23Following a week-long Artist Residency program, theBoston Lyric Opera’s 30th-anniversary celebrationculminated in a gala concert in the Wang Theatre onSeptember 15.

Five solo singers participated in the evening’sofferings. Two were black (soprano Lisa Daltirus andbass Morris Robinson), and three were white(mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey, tenor Michael Hayes,and baritone Earle Patriarco).

The full orchestra of more than 60 players wasconducted by Willie Anthony Waters, the blackArtistic Director of the Connecticut Opera,supplemented by the 40-member BLO Chorus (which hasseveral black singers).

That said, there was no doubt that the BLO hadimported a strong quintet of soloists, three of whom(Daltirus, Patriarco, Robinson) had performed withthe company in the past.

The program contained fifteen numbers, all of which were well-known repertory staples with the possible exception of one item from Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra.” The other operas represented were “Aida,” “Barber of Seville,” “La Boheme,” “Abduction from the Seraglio,” “Faust,” Cavalleria Rusticana,” “Pagliacci,” “Marriage of Figaro,” and “Turandot.”

All the singing was on a lofty level. If pressed toname the high points, I would cite Patriarco’sebullient rendition of ‘Largo al factotum’ (the bestI’ve heard since the days of Lawrence Tibbett in the1940′s); and the glorious final trio from “Faust”(Daltirus, Hayes, Robinson), in which the sopranowas secure right up to the top C.

Waters elicited solid playing from his orchestra,and the chorus gave admirable support in its fournumbers. For those who desired, there was apost-concert dance party in the Wang lobby,featuring disc jockey Kyung Min from the BerkleeCollege of Music.

The BLO’s regular season gets under way with aproduction of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” November3-14, in the Shubert Theatre.

Boston Lyric Opera’s official website

(pictured: Dr. John)
186 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #23In addition to announcing Steppin’ Out 06′s fulllineup of artists on Monday, September 25 at 6 pmat Scullers Jazz Club, Steppin’ Out will follow thatwith the final competitions of this year’s Steppin’Out Talent Search, beginning at 7 pm. ScullersJazz Club is located in the DoubleTree Guest SuitesHotel at 400 Soldiers Field Road in Boston.

If this is anything like last years competition youwill be at the edge of your seat. I must say therewas an upset last year when the small 4 piecequartet won over the 10 piece big band that couldbarely fit on the stage. It was an exciting evening.This year there are five terrific and talentedartists and/or groups, chosen from almost 30 entriesand they will perform in 10 minute segments while apanel of judges, one of whom is our very own KAYBOURNE, decide who the winning group or artistwill be. One artist or group will have theopportunity to (1) win $500, (2) perform alongsideinternationally known artists and (3) to showcasetheir music talent before attending press, majorcorporate heads and music industry professionals atSteppin’ Out for Dimock 19 on Saturday, November 4.

The five finalists are Beat Kaestli Quintet; ClearBlue; Jazz in The Air; Juliet Lloyd and Laura Brunner. The theme of this year’s event will be “Steppin’ Outfor Dimock 19 – New Orleans Style,”. The fulllineup of artists will be announced September 25, but to date Dr. John, Cuba Gooding, Sr.& The Main Ingredient and Dwele have all beenconfirmed.

For full information visit Steppin’ Out’s website by clicking below, or call 617-442-8800 x1006.

STEPPIN’ OUT official website

by Kay Bourne
188 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #23When the retrospective of Boston-born Lois Mailou Jones‘ art was exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in 1973, the show marked the first time a major museum had given a solo exhibit to an African American woman. Jones (1905 – 1998) grew up in an apartment where her father was the building superintendent on School Street near the Old City Hall and the Parker House hotel, downtown Boston.

The curator of that ground breaking show, E. Barry Gaither, gave a talk this week on Jones, entitled “Lois Mailou Jones: Artist and Friend,” on September 18 at the School of the MFA. The lecture was in conjunction with a new exhibit “Lois Mailou Jones/The Early Works: Paintings and Patterns 1927 -1937.” The show in the Grossman Gallery, in the school at 230 The Fenway, honors Jones as a prominent graduate. E. Barry Gaither, the director of the Museum of the National Center of African American Artists in Roxbury, is known far and wide for his contributions to the understanding of African American art.

Gaither describes Jones as a defining figure of theperiod he prefers to call “the era of the NewNegro,” more popularly known as the Harlem Renaissance.

He said that she took her direction in art from a lifelong interest in design (inspired by her mother’s hat making); from the works and advice of black women artists who preceded her; and from the philosophy of Dr. Alain Locke of Howard University, where later she would teach in the art department for some 27 years. Locke urged African American artists to study African art and to offer a sympathetic treatment of black life in their paintings (previously there was little portraiture of black people from black artists). Locke coined the term “The New Negro” in the March 1925 issue of “Survey Graphic” magazine and a year later republished the articles in the better known “New Negro Anthology.”

Gaither characterized Lois Mailou Jones on apersonal level as someone “of quiet perseverance whowith quiet nudges got where she wanted to go.” Heobserved about her art that she was “always excited bywater color and she had a wonderful gift forcontaining light in her paintings” which is ahallmark of a good watercolor.

The Museum School exhibit provides more than 30studies and designs by Jones for fabrics and wallpapers created at the outset of her long career anddone during the 10 years between her graduation fromthe Museum School and her first trip to France in 1937.

Gallery talks reflecting on this exhibit and her career overall will be Tuesday, September 26 at 12:30 pm and Thursday, September 28 at 6 pm – these are discussions led by Reese Inman, a museum studies candidate at Tufts University and Janet Zipes a liberal arts master’s candidate at Harvard. On Wednesday, September 27, at 6 pm, there will be a screening of a 55 minute video directed by Abiyi R. Ford, “Lois Mailou Jones: Fifty Years of Painting.” The video will be introduced by Tritobia Hayes Benjamin, author of “The Life and Art of Lois Mailou Jones.”

SMFA News and Exhibits

by Larry Stark/ publisher of “Theatre Mirror”
189 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #23Akiba Abaka, Artistic Director of the Up You MightyRace Company, has found a fascinating history-play,and an excellent cast to bring it to life.

Robert Johnson Jr.’s “Patience of Nantucket”examines race problems at the edges of the Civil Warand off the coast of Massachusetts. At the center ofthe story is Patience Cooper, played by Marie Guinier, triedtwice and kept in a fourteen-foot cell for eightyears (three of them while awaiting her secondtrial) while insisting she had not murdered a Whitestore-keeper. Witnesses who might clear her areeither ill or off the tight little island ofNantucket. Conflicts still alive from attempts of”Colored Town” to desegregate the Island’s highschool ripple through the play’s subtext, along withreligious wars against the Quakers who advocateddesegregation.

Johnson’s aim is not tosolve the murder, but to watch a proud woman slowlycrumble in captivity at the very time that slaveswere being freed on the mainland. Patience’sminister, played powerfully by Joe Lee Baker Bay,offers her God’s mercy, and Mary Elizabeth Rutkowskias her one white friend visits regularly and triesto find lawyers to help. But serving half of herten-year sentence after waiting three years for atrial takes an awful toll.

After setting the scene as her cell, Peter Colao’sscenery opens like a magic box for the first majorconfrontation: Patience’s second trial (after heroriginal acquittal was set aside). Here MarkBourbeau for prosecution and Paul Shafer in defenseplay a tense chess-game, with Robert Runck as thejudge being impartially biased in sustaining orover-ruling objections.

The jailor of this one-room, one-prisoner jail is asincarcerated as she is. Ed Peed, in flowingsideburns and island accents, eloquently handlesUriah Gardner’s desire, like his prisoner’s, forfreedom. Bern Budd and Jeff Gill play a pair ofcharlatans promising Patience a governor’s clemencyif she will simply confess to a crime she insistsshe did not commit. Brian Quint and Jesse Strachmanare nervous witnesses for the prosecution.

The only representative of Colored Town is onedefense witness: Dosha Ellis Beard as Trilona Pompeygets to let her awareness of politics on the islandand Patience’s integrity explode on the stand —but, of course, courts deal in sparse facts, notemotional convictions.

There are references to Lincoln’s election, hisassassination, and Johnson’s reconstructionattempts, which pin the period precisely. However,the story of Patience of Nantucket is a human dramawith overtones and situations still relevant to lifetoday.

Purchase PATIENCE OF NANTUCKET tickets here

A TASTE OF FILM – October 14
190 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #23Mark your calendars for Saturday, OCTOBER 14, 2006, 6-10pm.

A TASTE OF FILM fundraiser, to benefit TheColor of Film Collaborative, Inc.

To be held at Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall,184 Dudley Street,Roxbury, MA.

Sample foods from Boston restaurants, caterers and chefs whileyou get a taste of the 15 films that TheColor of Filmhas funded with its MINI-GRANT AWARD. Meet the grant-winning filmmakers and view clips taken from their winning films. Such as the three films pictured above on the flyer: Thato Mwosa’s film, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”; Tracy Heather Strain and Yellow Jersey Films’ trailer of the first feature-length documentary on playwright Lorraine Hansberry, known world-wide for her groundbreaking play A Raisin in the Sun; and Jibril Haynes’ film, “The Plague”. THE TASTE OF FILM will also have a literary display of children’s books with works by Bebe Moore Campbell and illustrator Richard Yarde, as well as Boston’s Irene Smalls and more!

Proceeds from THE TASTE OF FILM will benefit The Color of Film’s MINI-GRANTProgram, which awards grants of $500 – $1,500, TCOF’s “Monthly screening and Staged-Reading Series at The Boston PublicLibrary – Copley Square, and other special film screeningevents.

Tickets are on sale here. General admission is $25 and begins at 6:30pm. Or, for $50 be listed in the program guide as a SUPPORTER of the event and enjoy an “audience” membership with The Color of Film.

As our VIP for the evening, get in before the general public and enjoy UNINTERRUPTED tastings starting at 6pm. Plus VIP ticket holders will be listed in the program guide as PRODUCERS of the event, and also receive an “audience” membership to The Color of Film.TASTE OF FILM tickets available here

by Josiah Crowley
185 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #23June Cross’ memoir, “Secret Daughter: A Mixed RaceDaughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away” (Viking)is the well-written, fascinating story of a bi-racialgirl who grew up in two worlds.

She lived in the working class Atlantic City of the1960′s, where she was raised by a protective,religious, African-American couple who owned theirown home, a school teacher wife and her husband whoalso had a steady job.

Then came the summers with her birth mother, awould-be actress who is white, and her whitestepfather, TV actor Larry Storch of “F Troop” fame.In L.A. she lived in wealthy, glamorous BeverlyHills in a house with a swimming pool.

So, nine months out of the year, she led a humdrumlife, followed by summering in the film and TVcommunity, where the family socialized with some ofthe biggest TV stars of the 60′s such as SallyField and Barbara Eden.

June recalls swimming in Storch’s swimming pool oneafternoon when she noticed smoke blowing in fromanother part of the city. The 12 year-old girl asksher mother what’s happening; Norma tells her Watts -a neighborhood “where the black people live” – is onfire. Starting that night, young June has tworecurring, similar nightmares. In one, she is inStorch’s swimming pool with Norma and Storch. Agroup of African-Americans approach the pool andannounce that June must make a choice. In oneversion of this dream, she chooses to stay with hermother & Storch and the group kills them. In theother version, faced with the same choice, June goeswith the protestors and watches as Norma and Storchare killed by the mob.

In neither world – and this is the crux of herjourney – was June allowed to claim her heritage.Her mother thought if the world discovered her TVhusband had a black stepdaughter, employmentopportunities would disappear and his career wouldend. So Norma denied her daughter, demanding to beaddressed as “Aunt Norma” unless they were alone.All other places, June was referred to as Norma’sstepdaughter, niece or friend of the family.

June’s confusion and hurt were not helped by theabsence of June’s father, comic James Cross, known as “Stump” of the legendary vaudeville comedy team of “Stump & Stumpy”. Cross’ act was stolen by the young comic Jerry Lewis – who admits as much when the adult Juneinterviews him. Lewis was made rich with this stolenmaterial. Cross, on the other hand, sank intoalcoholism and unemployability.

One of the outstanding aspects about this book isthat there are no villains. June is most generous toeach of parents; indeed, the reader feels as if heis on the journey along with June as she comes toterms with her heritage.

Like the excellent journalist Cross is, she neverdescends to pathos, though I challenge anyone tokeep a dry eye through some of this story.

A successful Emmy-winning TVnews producer, the adult June approaches her mother,in 1996, to be interviewed for a documentary Junewants to do about her upbringing (which became theTV documentary SECRET DAUGHTER, that garnered Juneher second Emmy). Norma, surprisingly, agrees to goon camera.

At this point, the book, written without an ounce of self-pity or blame, goes to another level. By then, the book hasdetailed June’s life as a student at Harvard in theearly 70′s, breaking into the worlds of print andTV journalism. It noted her inability to sustainlong-term intimate relationships; trying to fit intosociety as a biracial adult and never fitting in.Here, the book comes together as June goes back tothe source of much of her pain, confronts it andattempts to deal with it emotionally while trying tomaintain a professional demeanor.

Yes, there’s a happy ending.At age 45, June feels safe enough to marry for thefirst time. She becomes closer to her mother duringNorma’s last years. This is no typical Hollywoodmemoir, however, it is heartfelt and sincere. And ithas a lot to say about the experience of oneperson’s struggle to deal with the after effects ofbeing treated as a second-class citizen by a world -and a parent – who chose the dreams of Hollywoodfantasy and riches over the child who simply wantedto be loved and accepted.


144 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #23 Our second shipment of The Official ONE LOVEdvd’s and cd’s are in and available for sale!! Below are commentsfrom audience members at The Color of Film’s Official ONELOVE dvd & cd RELEASE PARTY in March at RCC, where we hadthe co-star of the movie, CHERINE ANDERSON as our special guest:

“Fantastic. I loved it.” “…Thank you for openingthat 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 toyou, 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 Filmwebsite.Order ONE LOVE dvd and cd here

This is the FINAL weekend to catch “One of the funniest plays on the serious stage…” (Chantler Townsend, NYTF). The New African Company presents OM! A Street Corner Griot’s Comedy written by Mwalim *7) and directed by Born Bi-Kim. September 22 at 7:30pm and September 23 at 2 and 7:30pm. Tickets are $12 and $15, at The Roxbury Center for Arts atHibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street, Roxbury. For info call 617-541-3900 x2324.

THE BOSTON CONSERVATORY THEATER DIVISION PRESENTS “THE BECKETT BASH,” FIVE SHORT PLAYS IN HONOR OF THE PLAYWRIGHT’S 100TH BIRTHDAY. Seventeen actors in five short plays by Samuel Beckett, in honor of the playwright’s 100th birthday. There will be four performances, September 28 – 30 at 8pm and October 1 at 7:30 pm in The Boston Conservatory Zack Box Theater, 8 The Fenway, Boston. FREE. For more information, call The Boston Conservatory event line at (617) 912-9240.

Now, until October 15 Roxbury Community College (RCC) presents Celebración 2006: Hispanic Heritage at RCC, a series that will highlight unique aspects of Hispanic language, arts and culture. All events are open to the public. For info call 617-541-5381.

“BRIDGING THE GULF” A Benefit for the Turkey Creek Initiative – organized by Derrick Evans, October 7 at the Somerville Theater, 55 Davis Square in Somerville featuring: Bass-Line Motion (Adrienne Hawkins and Larry Roland), Annie Keating, BalletRox, Kathy Hassinger Dance Company, Matt Keating, Margot Parsons Dance Company, Marianne Harkless with Beat Tree, Prometheus Dance, Rebecca Rice Dance, Rozann Krau, with special Guest Artist from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Eric “We Are Strong” Funchess, And Gigi Hines. For information click here for more information on The Turkey Creek Initiative.

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