Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #24

October 5th, 2006  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report

A TASTE OF FILM – October 14

by Kay Bourne
(Schlomo as an adult)

202 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #24 The veracity of Radu Mihaileanu’s “Live and Become” is so compelling that you suppose every so often during the film that the African child will grow up to be someone you’ve heard of – an Olympic runner, perhaps, or a politician in the Third World.

The fictional story, however, is instead emblemic of hundreds of courageous Ethiopian Jewish “Falasha” children and their brave and hopeful families who were airlifted from a refugee camp in Sudan to relocate in Israel. There they were expected to assimilate into that Jewish tradition, an experiment that had as many sorrowful outcomes as successes.

One child among the passengers headed to Israel is Christian. The night before, in the refugee camp, Schlomo’s mother had seen a Jewish Ethiopian boy her son’s age die, despite the doctor’s every effort. Schlomo’s mom, in a glance exchanged with the dead boy’s mother, sends her child with the bereaved mother who will claim him as her own. The child is reluctant, but his mother tells him “Go. Live and become. Then you can return.” The movie’s narrative follows Schlomo as he tries to obey.

Schlomo is touchingly portrayed by three actors for the different stages in his life: child, Moshe Agazai; teenager, Mosche Abebe, and man, Sirak M. Sabahat. These three actors called on their own life experiences to play the role – all are Ethiopian “Falasha” who were airlifted to Israel in the “Operation Moses.” The acting is outstanding all around.

A story of mother’s love and sacrifice, a black African son’s devotion, and also, in a peripheral way, a paean to ‘Doctors Without Borders,” the emotionally moving and truthful “Live And Become” has a subliminal message: “see with your heart.” Remy Chevrin‘s striking cinematography makes you feel as if you’re in a Sudanese refugee camp in the desert or on the streets of Jerusalem or at the wailing wall, where-ever the story goes, his camera work lets you follow as a witness.

“Live And Become,” which in the U.S. is distributed by Menemsha Films (visit Menemsha Film’s website by clicking the above picture of Schlomo) opens Friday, October 6 exclusively at the West Newton Cinema, 1296 Washington Street (Rte 16), West Newton. For more info call 617-964-8074 or visit their website with the link below. Sirak M. Sabahat, who plays Schlomo grown to a man, will be at the West Newton Cinema this weekend and will answer questions following the screenings.

West Newton Cinema’s website

by Adrienne Hawkins
(Click on STAN STRICKLAND’s image to visit his website)

203 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #24 I have heard Stan Strickland play reeds, seen him dance, heard his poetry, listened to his arrangements, but watching his one-man play “Coming up for Air” an AutoJazzography at the Boston Center for the Arts gave me a whole new slant on this profound artist.

“Coming Up for Air/ An AutoJAZZography” was written and directed by Jon Lipsky, conceived, written, and performed by Stan Strickland. . . . and the collaboration is one of pure magic.

Frankly, I was a little intimated by the announcement that the show was 70 minutes without an intermission, with just one person, and some instruments, and some talking to do. . . . to my surprise, however, the time flew by. There was not a moment that was slow, without a build up before hand, that lead you into that calm. There was an ebb and flow, just like the ocean with its calm and storms.

There were some very intimate and funny moments. The audience got to laugh, cry, be shocked, fearful and (surprisingly!) sing together to share with Stan his true-life, near death experience of almost drowning off the coast of Hawaii.

During the course of the play, Stan explores many instruments, musical forms and dance movements, searching for the sources of his music, and most interestingly brings to voice over a dozen individuals/characters, that are familiar to us. “Coming Up For Air” continues through October 14 in the Plaza Box Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA), 539 Tremont Street, in the South End.

Boston Center for the Arts website

(pictured: Jimmy Guilford surrounded by his art)
192 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #24 Mr. Guilford celebrates his 95th birthday with two parties. This Friday, October 6, there’s dinner and a show featuring Herb Reed and the Platters at Scullers Jazz Club on the Charles River in Boston and on Sunday, October 8, there’s a reception, open to the public, at the Piano Factory on Tremont Street.

The former barber to stars such as Duke Ellington and boxing world champion Jack Johnson, Mr. Guilford was born at home on Sterling Street and has had many barber shops on Tremont street.

He has lived in Lower Roxbury all of his life except for the years he served in the Army in World War II. He has seen this neighborhood go from a tight knit community to a community where many buildings were demolished to make way for a highway that never was put in, but effectively destroyed a vibrant black community of businesses, professional offices, and homes.

Through the Jazz Age, the Great Depression, Urban Renewal and Gentrification, Mr. Guilford has seen it all. His history, and his stories are priceless.

Our very own Kay Bourne has had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Guilford and capture his rememberances in a book that will be published some time next year. It transcribes Mr. Guilford’s memories and is peppered with the history of the Lower Roxbury area.

Fabric artist Theresa Young heads a committee to celebrate Jimmy Guilford’s 95th birthday with an exhibit of his art work. Since Mr. Guilford still maintains a studio at the Piano Factory, the gallery on the first floor was chosen as the perfect spot. Guilford’s artwork and his contributions to the visual and performing arts community will be celebrated at a reception on, Sunday, October 8, from 3 to 8 pm at the Piano Craft Building, 791 Tremont Street, one block from Mass. Ave. Mr. Guilford plans to attend.

by Caldwell Titcomb
195 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #24 Local audiences had the rare opportunity to see a production of the first great masterpiece in the history of opera when the Handel and Haydn Society, in collaboration with the English National Opera, offered three September performances of Claudio Monteverdi’s “Orfeo,” first staged in 1607.

The composer wrote numerous operas in his long career, but only three survive complete, of which “Orfeo” is the earliest. (The first American staging of the work took place in 1929 here in Massachusetts, at Smith College.)

Variants of the Orpheus myth are found in many different countries. So it was quite appropriate that the current show was intentionally multicultural. The director was Chen Shi-Zheng, born in China in 1963, who immigrated to the United States in 1987. He imported a troupe of eleven dancers from Java. Set designer Tom Pye introduced Japanese elements into his work. Elizabeth Caitlin Ward’s costumes partly reflected Eastern tradition and partly Western modernism.

In addition, of the eight main solo singers four were black: tenor Tom Randle as Orpheus, soprano Alyson Cambridge as Euridice, baritone Robert Honeysucker as Charon, and baritone Kevin Short as Pluto.

Under Scott Zielinski‘s lovely lighting, the upstage panels aptly changed colors. The entire production in fact was a visual treat.

The level of singing was high indeed. Soprano Elizabeth Watts portrayed the allegorical figures of Music and Hope. Randle, who played Apollo in the London performances, moved up to the demanding title role with confidence. The wedding of Orpheus and Euridice was charming. Then mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy excelled in the Messenger’s long report of Euridice’s death from a poisonous snakebite.

The production’s high point was Orpheus’s attempt to descend into Hades to find Euridice. Charon, who ferried dead souls across the river Styx, barred all living persons. His boat moved slowly, while eight figures with orange lanterns hovered around majestically. Honeysucker’s gorgeous voice eventually dropped off to sleep, and the eloquent Orpheus managed to sneak into the Underworld.

The ruling and bearded Pluto and his wife Proserpina (mezzo-soprano Stephanie Marshall) agreed to release Euridice on condition that Orpheus not look back at his wife on the journey home. But a clap of thunder caused Orpheus to turn around, whereupon Euridice disappeared.

There are several endings to the myth. But here Orpheus’s grief was somewhat assuaged when his father, Apollo (baritone William Berger), descended from heaven and said Orpheus would see Euridice in the stars. Father and son then together slowly ascended out of sight, while the Chorus and dancers provided a joyous finale below.

British conductor (and harpsichordist) Laurence Cummings led an orchestra of two dozen players, some of whom used generally obsolete period instruments. There were a few moments when the orchestra and singers were not quite together, but these did not detract much from what was overall a stunning production of a masterly work.

Handel and Haydn Society’s website

review by Nancy Hurlbut
(pictured: Phillip Patrone, John Kuntz, Steven Barkhimer)

193 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #24 I saw Martin McDonagh’s “The Pillowman” at New Rep Theatre in Watertown, aware that I was in for a searing experience. The usher taking my ticket informed me “the first act runs for an hour and forty minutes.” I don’t recall ever hearing such an admonition before a play, and I was all the more wary.

But amazingly, the first act flies by, in all of its tenderness and horror. Inside a police station in an unnamed police state, John Kuntz‘s title character absorbs the battering and taunting of the two police officers, Tupolski (Steven Barkhimer) and Ariel (Phillip Patrone), both of whose macabre agendae are laced with curious behaviors and sardonic humor. Young girls have been murdered recently, and Katurian (John Kuntz) is being held as a suspect because of his strange short stories that often feature abused children. Near the end of Act I we meet Katurian’s brother Michal (Bradley Thoennes) who is being held as well; a great big man, seriously brain damaged, and worshipful of his brother, the writer.

The tableaux characters, describing the brothers’ early home life, flesh out the how and why of these men, and in the second act, we learn more about their captors. Mr. McDonagh turns over each and every stone in the plot’s background and foreground, and the effect on the audience is a breathlessness that mimics the experience of the characters. But not the actors. To a person, they fill the bodies and minds and torturous twists of their characters with ample emotional depth, and a full-chested nuanced diction that changes, bobs, and weaves.

An incest survivor myself, and writer/performer of “Surly Girl” which shows the act and consequences of child abuse, I find these portraits riveting and familiar. In all the murdering and madness, these are human beings who act in the defensive ways they learned in their earliest days and nights; they are compelled to perpetuate violence on earth.

The New Repertory Theatre

A TASTE OF FILM – October 14
190 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #24 The Color of Film (TCOF) invites you to its first fundraiser A TASTE OF FILM on Saturday, OCTOBER 14, 2006, 6-10pm at Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street, next to the Roxbury firestation.

At our “TASTE”, as at all other tastes, you will be thrilled by the food. Our participating restaurants and caterers will offer a diverse array of dishes: berries Boston (Caribbean cuisine); Dancing Deer Bakery (baked goods); The Eclectic Chef (American & International cuisine); Haley House Bakery Cafe (baked goods); Ka- Carlos (Cape Verdean cuisine) Irie Jamaican Restaurant (Jamaican cuisine); Irie Four Seasons Ice cream; Jaks Cafe (American & International cuisine); Las Vegas Seafood (Haitian cuisine); Poppa B’s (Soul food); with wine and spirits provided by Boisset Wine and Idol Vodka.

However, what is different at this TASTE is the entertainment. Instead of musical performances and bands, THE TASTE OF FILM will focus on the 15 films that The Color of Film has funded with its MINI-GRANT AWARD. So you will be able to meet our grant-winning filmmakers and get a TASTE of their winning films by watching clips from each film. Three of the fifteen films are 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 Haywood Fennell, Sr. and Irene Smalls!

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

Extend your support to Boston filmmakers, authors and artists. Tickets are on sale here or at the door the night of the event. 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. Purchase TASTE OF FILM tickets in advance here

(l to r: Ryan Michael Brian Dunn (Annas) and Phillip Lamar Boykin (Caiaphas)).
Photo by Paul Lyden

204 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #24 Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” at North Shore Music Theatre through October 8 could easily be subtitled “The Agony and the Exasperation,” or at least that’s how this rock version of the last days of Jesus comes across. Intelligently and strikingly staged by Robert Johanson, the rock musical is, however, intellectually “a ball of confusion” to borrow a phrase from the annuls of R&B.

The brutality of the second half of the show where Jesus is lashed 37 times, is force marched here and there, and is hammered to a cross is not for the squeamish. That’s the agony part of it.

The “exasperation” is the reaction of many of the characters to Jesus. Pontius Pilot who would just as soon spare Jesus’s life loses his temper over Jesus’s round about way of answering a question. Judas thinks his leader has gotten morose and can’t move the program on to the next level so betrays him and then hangs himself. The Jewish high priests are miffed at his up-turning the money exchange tables and driving the merchants from the temple lobby.

There’s also the idea of a celebrity culture killing off profundity in favor of lights, camera, action! But that’s a thought sort of tossed out at the audience, although the rock night club scene is electric and jarring. Nicholas Rodriguez as a worried Jesus, besieged at every turn, looks not unlike the mild portraiture that graced many a home in the mid 1900′s. Phillip Lamar Boykin as the corrupt high priest has a bass voice that’s so gorgeous, let’s hope he’s brought back by NSMT for many other roles.

All Shook Up

The aptly characterized “jukebox” musical “All Shook Up” spins Elvis Presley hits into a narrative of sorts, introducing the major character Chad with a brief scene in a county jailhouse related through, yes, a rousing rendition of “Jailhouse Rock.” What seems almost disturbingly silly at first kind of grows on you as the night progresses, thanks to some wonderful voices and endearing personalities.

Released with a warning not to return to that particular small town, Chad revs up his motorcycle and roars into another squaresville where the law will hate him but the bored and romantically inclined citizenry will thrill to his outlaw demeanor.

The entertaining “All Shook Up” continues at the Opera House through October 8.

Interestingly there are more black people in this story than there ever were in Presley’s entourage, and their voices add immeasurably to the success of the show. Among them in lead roles are Valisia Lekae Little as a prim teen who falls in love with someone of whom her mom disapproves and NaTasha Yvette Williams as her dominating mom who gets her heartstrings plucked too.

Well directed by Christopher Ashley and brightly choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, the show also benefits from atmospheric lighting by Donald Holder (The Lion King) and jazzy sets from David Rockwell (Hairspray). Broadway Across America’s ALL SHOOK UP website

by Kay Bourne
(pictured: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “Awakenings 1954-1956″ – Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat helped launch the Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted 13 months. She was arrested and jailed for violating the law banning integration.
Credit: AP/Wide World Photos

197 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #24 ) The monumental 1987 series on the Civil Rights Movement presented from the black perspective, “Eyes on the Prize,” has returned to television. The epic account of the Civil Rights era told from the point of view of the men and women who challenged Jim Crow to win equity as citizens was produced by Henry Hampton’s Blackside, a black owned documentary film company located in Boston’s South End.

WGBH-TV, Channel 2 began airing this Monday, October 2, and will go on to air two more 2-hour episodes, October 9 and October 16 at 9-11pm. An additional eight hours of the series will air at later dates. Henry Hampton (1940 – 1998) ran a company that was an incubator for independent filmmakers, many of whom have enjoyed major careers after their start at Blackside, including Tracy Heather Strain and Judy Richardson.

Henry’s sisters, Judi Hampton and Veva Zimmerman, who inherited the company, have worked diligently to clear the rights to photos and other elements of the series so that “Eyes On the Prize” could be seen again. They’ve been joined in their efforts to show the series by a Re-release Project team: Sandra Forman, Legal Counsel and Project Director; Cindy Meagher Kuhn activist/rights coordinator, Rena C. Kosersky, music supervisor, and Alison Bassett, supervising producer.

The 2006 broadcast of “Eyes on the Prize” is also supported by a national outreach campaign managed by Blackside and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with additional support provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The campaign is a collaborative effort of three outreach providers: Outreach Extensions, Facing History and Ourselves, and the National Black Programming Consortium.

Nostalgia is not the reason for airing “Eyes On the Prize” again, says Judi Richardson, the series associate producer and Blackside’s education director, and now a senior producer at Northern Light Production.

“Unfortunately, the Civil Rights Movement has been neutered and neutralized so it is generally not known that even in the 1960′s, the movement was struggling around the same issues we’re dealing with today as was so vividly revealed in ‘Eyes On The Prize,’” she told this writer in an exclusive interview.

“There is a growing gap between the rich and the poor in this country. There is the attempt to limit the vote among people of color. And there is an improvised war that is sapping and diverting the resources of our country, both financial (two billion dollars a week!) and human, from urgent domestic needs. And there is the campaign to prevent access to jobs and educational opportunities for people of color and poor people.

“All of these were the major issues then, and remain so today,” she said.

American Experience

by Kay Bourne
201 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #24 Drum roll. . . . and the winner is. . . . Laura Brunner and her band! Her prize? She’s the local band that gets to perform at Dimock Community Health Center’s annual Steppin’ Out Gala, November 4.

The passionate singer wowed the judges and the crowd of more than 150 people at Scullers with an original composition dedicated to the situation in Iraq composed when she heard of the death of a soldier there who was a friend.

The competition was stiff. Five terrific and talented groups, chosen from more than 30 entries, performed in 10 minute segments at Scullers Jazz Club while a panel of judges deliberated over the winning group. The other four competing final groups were the Beat Kaestli Quintet, Clear Blue, Jazz In The Air and Juliet Lloyd.

Laura Brunner is an accomplished young singer/composer hailing from Columbus, Ohio, where she sang with numerous choirs and performed with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra on many occasions. In 2002, Brunner received a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music. She has performed in Berklee’s popular Singers’ Showcase concert twice, and also in master classes with Meredith Monk, Riannon, and Ellis Marsalis. Brunner recently released a CD of original compositions and co-organized and performed in the Fresh Forward Jazz Festival, giving young composers an opportunity to showcase their material and promote the future generation of jazz.

The Laura Brunner Group was chosen to (1) win $500, (2) perform alongside internationally known artists and (3) to showcase her music talent before the gala’s large audience that includes attending press, major corporate heads and music industry professionals at Steppin’ Out for Dimock 19 on Saturday, November 4.

198 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #24 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

205 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #24 The Museum of Fine Arts, hosts a free Open House in celebration of South Asian Culture, held in conjunction with the Fenway Alliance’s Opening Our Doors! 2006. Activities on Monday, October 9, from 10am – 4:45pm include: dancing by Boston’s Bhangra; guitarist Prasanna; Documentary Film: Brown Like Dat: South Asians and Hip Hop;The Art of Mehndi (henna tattooing) from artist Almina Semy. FREE exhibitions: Domains of Wonder: Masterworks of Indian Painting; Beyond Basketry: Japanese Bamboo Art; On Stage in Osaka; Designing the Modern Utopia: Soviet Textiles from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection.

“ALL SKATE: A Night to Benefit Chez Vous” takes place October 18, 8pm – 12 midnight. It’s hosted by DJs Joseph Colbourne, San Serac, Mark E. Moon and Brendan Wesley spinning classic roller boogie and disco, electro funk and house to recreate a roller disco. Proceeds from the event directly benefit the rink; tickets are $10, available this weekend at the rink, and $12 the night of the event. Skate rental is included free. Skaters are invited to wear their most creative roller skating outfits, and this is an all ages event. Chez Vous is located at 11 Rhoades St. in Dorchester, just at the corner of Rt. 203 and Blue Hill Ave.

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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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