Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #25

October 27th, 2006  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report


by Kay Bourne
(Historian Byron Rushing explains that the Parting Stone, which stands in John Eliot square, told travelers which way to Dedham and Providence, R.I. or Cambridge.)
photo credit: Kay Bourne

208 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #25 Does Roxbury look the way you remember it from years back? The first ever architecture tour for the Discovery Roxbury trolleys showed that some of Roxbury stands proud, impervious to the passage of centuries, while other sections sport new buildings you can take pride in as well.

The tour started at the Dillaway Thomas House, of Georgian design and built in 1750 or so – and according to the tour leader Byron Rushing, a state representative and historian, “the second oldest building in Roxbury extant (still standing).”

Other interesting periods noted on the tour included Gothic Revival, Queen Ann, Italianate, Greek Revival, NeoGeorgian, Renaissance Revival, Art Deco, and Classical Revival.

When the tour stopped outside the some twenty buildings and traveled along the spaces designed by the black architecture firm of Stull & Lee, however, we were treated to what’s new in Roxbury. And our guide, in these instances, was none other than Donald Stull himself.

The African American architect is responsible for such edifices as the Second Empire style Cox Building in historic John Eliot Square, an adaptive re-use of a 19th century hotel (1870). This project contains offices and forty-one units of housing, as well as five adjacent townhouses. The square also has the Marcus Garvey Gardens housing built from a Stull & Lee design in 1979.

Then there’s the “Don Stull Corridor”: The Columbus Avenue buildings begin with Roxbury Community College, a linear configuration of brick buildings; goes on to the 180,000 square foot Boston Police Headquarters which houses all central police communication systems; the Renaissance Park Garage, and the Ruggles Street Transit Station and then concludes with the Harriet Tubman House. Northeastern University is the site of the new John D. O’Bryant African American Institute (Stull & Lee has been commissioned by the school to lead its master plan for future expansion of academic facilities, campus housing, and recreation fields).

Other Stull & Lee achievements include the Orchard Gardens School, a bright yellow elementary school not far from Beryl Gardens affordable townhouses, commissioned by the Madison Park Community Development Corp., and the Council of Elder’s Housing, a hi-rise elderly housing complex with view of Boston Harbor at a distance, among other triumphs for the firm.

This coming weekend, Discovery Roxbury switches focus to the annual Roxbury Open Studios sponsored by Madison Park Development Corp.’s ACT Roxbury. The tour leader on Sunday, October 29, will be ACT’s artistic director Candelaria Silva who will introduce you to artists in their working spaces. All the art is for sale. For more info about this tour and others coming up, you can call Discover Roxbury at 617-427- 1006 or visit its website below or by clicking the photo above.

Discover Roxbury’s website

by Kay Bourne
(l to r: Woodie King, Jr., Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, and Ed Bullins)
photo credit Kay Bourne

214 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #25 The full house at Hibernian Hall last Friday night, October 20, peeped into a time when the Black Arts Movement turned the American Theater on its head. No more catering to assumptions and the status quo – these playwright warriors declared. Instead, Ed Bullins, Amiri Baraka, Sonya Sanchez and others delivered plays that demanded: “why don’t cha think about it, think about it, think about it!” For the most part, the plays were allegorical in style.

With the consciousness raising “How Do You Do? (1965),” the first short play of the evening, Ed Bullins wants you to think about how silly materialism and bourgeoisie manners make you look. What makes the situation even more interesting is that the flirting young man and young woman seem to be characters a young writer Paul, well played by Montez Cardwell, is creating on the spot. The loathsome twosome with their new clothes and fine hose are deliciously played by a prancing Jackie Davis as Dora and a haughty Born Bi-Kim as the vain Roger.

The play from poet Sonia Sanchez, “Dirty Hearts (1972),” was less comprehensible. Five characters are playing a hard ball card game with the three white characters dealing themselves the strong hands – and perhaps that was what the allegory on power was all about.

Amiri Baraka’s “Who Is You? (A Question & Answer Drama)” had a young man, Born Bi-Kim, empty headedly refusing to see the plain truth in front of him: that he’s caught in the capitalistic maw. The vixen that’s got him wrapped up in making and spending was played by Jackie Davis as a nymph of commerce scattering dollar bills as she scampered gracefully to and fro and up and down a ladder.

After intermission came Ed Bullins’ “It Has No Choice” which seems to be about a black man and a white woman in an affair that she wants to break off because she doesn’t feel anything for him except in bed. Slowly there are hints that their relationship is more ritualistic than of the moment, and the playwright is talking about what he perceives as the sado-masochistic relationship of blacks and whites generally. Well directed by Jackie Davis, the 1966 one-act was intensely acted by Priscilla Albee and Born Bi-Kim; both of them brought a deep humanity to their roles even though ultimately the characters are chess pieces in the playwright’s gambit.

The final short play of the night, Ed Bullins’s powerful “Salaam, Huey Newton Salaam,” depicts the final days of a hero brought low by drug addiction. The contemporary audiences likely found this more familiar “slice of life” style of drama the most satisfying as theater, although it is as challenging to the mind as the allegories that preceded it. Born Bi-Kim was marvelous as the narrator who has traded in a leadership role for the comfort of a crack pipe, while Cristan DeJesus was chilling as the Young Brother who picks up the gun for a very different purpose than the Panthers intended. Montez Cardwell was fine as the fallen Huey P. Newton, founder (with Bobby Seale) of the Black Panther Party.

“A Black Arts Drama Showcase” signaled the curtain rising on a new theater as well. The Roxbury Crossroads Theater with Ed Bullins as its artistic director is a welcome addition to a lively black theater scene in Boston.

Roxbury Crossroads Theater

by Kay Bourne
(pictured: National Security Council – (l to r) played by: Gregory Maraio, Steven M. Key, Harold Withee, James Bodge, Cheryl Singleton, Peter Brown & Brian Quint)
photo credit: Richard Hall/Silverline Images

215 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #25 History can be only yesterday, as is the case with the disturbing political drama “Stuff Happens.” Playwright David Hare takes you into the Oval Office and other key locations as George W. Bush and his close administrators maneuver their way toward invading Iraq.

The superb Zeitgeist Stage Company production is most chilling in its insightful and personal look at leaders who scramble for position and try to satisfy personal agendas at the callous disregard for what it may cost in human lives. The dialogue is almost entirely taken from public record. The play, which follows events from 2001 through 2004, simply displays the administration’s policy as it evolves during this period.

These are splendid performances across the board from Harold Withee as President Bush who comes across as a bit more cunning than perhaps one expects from his curious verbal faux pas to Steven M. Key as a Colin Powell whose higher standing with the public only serves to make him a dupe for this devious administration. James Bodge as the apparent puppet master Dick Cheney exerts a malevolent presence with only little dialogue, while Cheryl D. Singleton in an apt portrayal as the hard-to-pin-down Condoleezza Rice talks a lot but says little. Robert Blair Bonotto is fine as the beleaguered Tony Blair whose idealism, like Colin Powell’s sincerity, is also fodder for the machinations of the Bush inner circle.

At three hours, “Stuff Happens” is a long show but worth every minute of it. David J. Miller has done a grand job of directing. The drama continues through November 11 in the BCA Plaza Black Box at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, the South End.

purchase STUFF HAPPENS tickets here

by Lisa Simmons
(Pictured: Derek Luke and Bonnie Henna as Patrick and Precious Chamusso)

217 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #25 Regal Movie Theater, Boston, MA Philip Noyce, Australian Director (Rabbit Proof Fence, Patriot Games, Dead Calm) sits on a stool to the far right of the screen, writer Shawn Slovo sits next to him, film star Bonnie Henna on the next stool, producer Robyn Slovo next to her and then me the moderator, book ending the foursome.

It was a great crowd who stayed after the preview screening of Noyce’s new film CATCH A FIRE to hear wha t those who made the film had to say about it. A ha unting film about the atrocities of South Africa u nder Apartheid, and the impact that continued oppression can have on an individual.

CATCH A FIRE tells the story of Patrick Chamusso, a man who existed under the oppressive government without making any trouble or participating in any political activities in order to live with his family in peace. As the story unfolds we see a man wrongly accused go from peaceful, law abiding citizen to engaged activist and fighter for his rights. It is as much a film about empowerment and human spirit as it is about loss and regret. It’s about “the sacrifices that people will make in the name of freedom. There’s a lot of issues that the movie deals with I think are relevant to our lives today, even though this is a story set in another place and another time.” Noyce says.

Derek Luke plays the role of Patrick brilliantly; he captures his fear, his passion and his spirit as the film twists and turns following his journey. Tim Robbins as the “terrorism” expert is uncomfortably real in this part. He is at times both heartless and empathetic but never really lets you fell any warmth to his despicable character. The lead actress, Bonnie Henna is relatively new to this genre and plays the role of Patrick’s wife magnificently.

Noyce directed an Australian film with a similar theme, “Rabbit Proof Fence” which dealt with much of the same themes of colonialism, oppression, racism, fear, and family. “Growing up in Australia,” he says, “a country with a horrendous record of relations between blacks and whites, one cannot help but have many important unresolved questions. And in a way, both Rabbit-Proof Fence and Catch A Fire are an attempt to answer some of those questions.” “Like Australia, South Africa has to come to terms with the horrors of their past in order to heal a nation.” How true, perhaps one day he will direct a script about America’s colonialism.

The film was written by Shawn Slovo and produced by Robyn Slovo and based on their parents, Joe Slovo who was head of the ANC and their mother Ruth First who was assassinated in 1982. The film shares very little about their life however, in fact we see them both only once. It is clear that this film was written as a vehicle to unveil the life of Patrick Chamusso, an untold story of yet another hero who gave up his life for the freedom of others. Chamusso served along side Nelson Mandela at Robbins Island.

The film is at times hard to watch but it is important to watch because we can never forget, and should be constantly reminded, of the atrocity of oppression around the world. This film serves as a reminder to us that there are those who have come before us, who have risked their lives for us, in order for many of us to live how we live in this world today.

by Adrienne Hawkins
pictured: Josh Hilberman – go to his website by clicking this image

210 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #25 Alert for tap dance fanatics! Dance Inn Productions’ Thelma Goldberg and local tap whiz Josh Hilberman have come together to produce a show that is a cross between amazing feats, and amazing feet’s.

The show, “RHYTHM AT THE REGENT” is at the Regent Theatre in Arlington and goes up for three performances, October 27 at 8 pm, October 28 at 2 and 8 pm. Nowhere else will you find in one place —- Nate ‘the Skate’ Cooper, bouncing up and down on a pogo stick while juggling knives and spinning a plate on his head; sensational German vaudeville act Tap and Tray, Klaus Bleis and Kurt Albert, who spin huge silver trays while tap dancing at blazing tempos; and Josh Hilberman‘s absurd Ukulele One Man Band, and the cheesy, low-impact acrobatics of his Three Wing Circus; the eccentric and hilarious shenanigans of Bob E. Thomas; and a sparkling new piece from the expert tap stylist, Thelma Goldberg.

Under Goldberg’s direction, the Legacy Dancers of the Dance Inn, New England’s only tap repertory company, will perform a new work for taps and plastic buckets by Kelly Kaleta, and a classic from one of America’s greatest tap choreographer, Brenda Bufalino.

Musician Paul Arslanian, will lead a swinging jazz trio, joined by Joe Fonda on bass, and the noted Berklee musician and guru, Professor Ron Savage, on drums. Mr. Arslanian, who has performed with practically every tap dancer of note over the past thirty years, received this year’s Tapestry Award for lifetime contributions to the art. There are also workshops for you dancers – for more info, call 781-646-4849 or visit The Regent Theatre’s website below.

Rhythm at the Regent-tickets and info

190 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #25 THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.
The Color of Film (TCOF) thanks all who volunteered, donated, attended and contributed to its first Taste of Film with Mellon New England as premiere sponsor for the event. Your input, in all forms, allows TCOF to continue its programming to support local filmmakers of Color and others who create diverse images of people of Color.

With stellar film clips from thirteen films funded through TCOF’s Mini-Grant Program, to delicious cuisine provided by the generosity of the following restaurants and caterers: berries Boston; Dancing Deer Bakery; The Eclectic Chef; The Haley House Bakery Cafe; Irie Jamaican Restaurant & Irie Four Seasons Ice cream of 310 Bowdoin Street, Dorchester; Jaks Cafe and Catering; Las Vegas Seafood of 15 Harvard Street, Hyde Park; Poppa B’s and Breezeway Bar & Grille, it was truly a night of a diverse array of attractions including a silent auction with works of art donated by: Ralph Beach, Bobby Crayton, Monicka Hasan, Naomi Henry, Derek Lumpkins, David Mynott II, Lolita Parker, Jr. and Semira Rose, all of whom are featured artists, with art on display and for sale, in this weekend’s 8th Annual Roxbury Open Studios.

Mini-Grant winners: Jibril Haynes, Rudy Hypolite, Don Quinn Kelley, Cam Mason, London Parker McWorter, Thato Mwosa, Lanice Lumpkins-O’Bryant, Lorna Lowe Streeter, Tracy Heather Strain, Tyrone Tanous, Wesley Richardson and Wendy Ward were all on hand to discuss their films with guests who savoured the tastes of both film and food, sipping wine provided by Boisset Wine and martinis infused with mango, peach or pineapple by Idol Vodka and Marie Brizard Liqueurs.

If circumstances kept you away from TCOF’s TASTE OF FILM this year, remember to look to The Kay Bourne Arts Report to give you the exact date next year for The Color of Film’s 2nd Annual TASTE OF FILM. The Color of Film’s website

by Kay Bourne
213 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #25 Photographer Elliot Lee‘s drinking took him to rock bottom. In those years he lived on the streets of Boston with a ragged band of men and women alcoholics he would later refer to as “the bottle community.”

Lee sobered up but he didn’t forget.

The Roxbury native used his camera to document the devastating life of men and women on the skids. While working at the Department of Mental Health in the field of alcoholism, he put together a documentary about the emotional and physical pain of living homeless and alcoholic that was seen at Rutgers, Northeastern, Boston College, Howard University and elsewhere.

After Lee’s death last year, Patti Lee, his youngest daughter, came upon a cache of Lee’s photographs in a closet. She has put together an exhibit of his work, “The Bottle Community/ Photography by Elliot C. Lee.” You can see these revealing photos this Saturday, October 28, from 5 – 7pm at the South End Technology Center, 359 Columbus Ave. For more info you can email pattileerondon@yahoo.com.

by Josiah Crowley
209 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #25 Adrienne Barbeau. Her name conjures up a host of images: horror movie actress (SWAMP THING, THE CREEP SHOW, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, THE FOG)….sit-com actress (Bea Arthur’s daughter on ”70′s hit MAUDE; Drew Carey’s mom on his ’90′s show)…..the “snake lady” from HBO’s cult series CARNIVALE…..Sex symbol….Broadway musical-comedy star. In the original cast of GREASE she created the role of Rizzo. Her big song, which contains the famous lyrics “Look at me/ I’m Sandra Dee/ Lousy with virginity,” provides the title for her hilarious tale of the hard-knock world of showbiz.

The memoir describes, with great wit and humor, the up and down career of what one might have called, in an earlier era, a “trooper”. The story of a little girl from Fresno (“The raisin capital of the world”) steeped in her family’s Old World Armenian culture, Barbeau tells of her travails and top moments in a tough business. Arriving in NYC, the naive 19-year-old doesn’t realize she’s working for the Mob as a waitress and go-go dancer; she thinks her Italian employers just like to give away free appliances and TV’s to pretty young girls. To receive these gifts, young Adrienne would take a taxi across town in Manhattan after her shift ended at 3 am and meet a stranger, who would greet her with: “You Matty’s girl?” before handing her vacuums, cookery, and other items.

The story follows the young actress’ auditions, disappointments and successes. She couldn’t get hired for any TV commercials because in the “60′s “everyone who sold soap on TV was blue-eyed and blond.” But she lands a gig as a replacement on Broadway with the young, unknown Bette Midler as her sister. Then comes the surprise hit GREASE which gets her a Tony nomination and the chance to move to Hollywood for MAUDE.

“There Are Worse Things I Could Do” (Carroll & Graf) also follows her personal life, including disappointments in love:

“I lost my virginity to Philip Roth“, the young Barbeau writes; it wasn’t until several months later that she discovers the guy was just pretending to be Roth, to lure voracious reader Adrienne into bed.

The details of her affair with the very badly behaving Burt Reynolds is a portrait of a Superstar at the height of his career, acting like a snake in his love life.

Her first marriage, to director John (HALLOWEEN) Carpenter ends badly, but produces her beloved son, musician Cody Carpenter.

The book also follows her experiences with metaphysics (she’s a big fan) and various types of other therapies, in addition to noting her various jobs in the business, nightclub performer, game show panelist, regional theater, summer stock – right up to rehearsals for her recent off-Broadway engagement as Judy Garland.

Mostly, this is an engaging, laugh-out-loud romp – whether describing making a low-budget horror movie in Russia, playing opposite live rats, where the crew and cast spoke different languages, or trying to learn to roller skate and play banjo for a Kander & Ebb musical, while also breast-feeding cranky twins backstage.

Barbeau’s reveals a previously hidden talent for writing. Indeed, she recently signed a two-book deal; A good read if you’re in the mood for a hysterical, surprising, delightful tale.

198 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #25 Only a few more Official ONE LOVE dvd’s and cd’s featuring Ky-Mani Marley and Cherine Anderson are left!! Below are actual comments from some who attended TCOF’s Official ONE LOVE dvd & cd RELEASE PARTY in March 2006 at RCC, when the co-star, CHERINE ANDERSON attended as our special guest:

“Fantastic. I loved it.”
“…Proud to be a Jamaican tonight.”
“…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…”

“…Better than The Harder They Come…”
“…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…”

“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…”

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

216 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #25 Cyrus Akeem Brooks (pictured on the left) plays X- Ray and Shauday Johnson-Jones (right) plays Armpit in Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of HOLES, Louis Sachar’s compelling story of fate and friendship, opening October 27 until November 26. For ticket information call Wheelock’s Box Office at 617-879-2300 or click here.

The NAACP-Boston Branch invites senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers to a community forum, “LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD”, Saturday, October 28, 9:30 a m to 2:30 p m, at the Dudley Public Library, in Roxbury. Many citizens do not have sufficient financial support or assistance with personal care that enables them to live independently and safely in the community, to attend church, participate in family and community activities, or just do the things they want. Having transportation, help with activities of daily living, or assistive technology can be the difference between being isolated at home and being involved in the community.
Come to this FREE community forum and let policy-makers know what you need to live independently and to improve your quality of life. A report to federal and state policy- makers will be generated from the forum. These ideas will be included in plans to review and reframe Medicaid funded services and supports. The forum is FREE and co- sponsored by Parent’s Management, Inc., Support Our Special Children, Committee for Boston Public Housing, and the Department of Mental Retardation. A continental breakfast and lunch are provided. For more information and to register, call Julia Cofield, NAACP-Boston Branch 2nd Vice-President at 617-624-7578.

Saturday, October 28, Hot Like Fire! reggae band performs at The Western Front, 343 Western Avenue, Cambridge, 10pm – 2am. Call 617-492-7772 for information.

Due to an overwhelming response, the movie, LIVE AND BECOME has been extended and is still playing at the West Newton Theatre, 1296 Washington Street.
Based on the non-fictional stories of many African boys raised in Israel, LIVE AND BECOME magnificently tells the epic story of an Ethiopian boy, Shlomo, who is airlifted from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel in 1984 during Operation Moses. Shlomo is plagued by two big secrets: He is neither a Jew nor an orphan, just an African boy who survived and wants, somehow, to fulfill his Ethiopian mother’s parting request that he “go, live, and become.” Buoyed by a profound and unfaltering motherly love – both in his memory and in the arms of his adoptive mother – he ultimately finds an identity and a happiness all his own. See Kay Bourne’s review in our previous Kay Bourne Arts Report #24, and call 617-964-6060 for times and directions to West Newton Theatre or click here .

The Providence Black Repertory Company presents THE COLORED MUSEUM, by George C. Wolfe, directed by Don Mays, featuring Pam Lambert, now until November 19. Click here for tickets .

DC Empowering Children presents Surviving Sexual Abuse Conference #15. Learn about the prevention of childhood sexual abuse as well as surviving any form of sexual abuse on Saturday, November 4, 12 -3pm at Codman Square Health Center’s Great Hall, 637 Washington Street, Dorchester. Powerful voices speaking out against sexual abuse. Resources and support services available. Free and open to the public, donations welcome. For more information call Debbie Chambers at 617-298-1102 or email dcisme65@msn.com.

November 4, at Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, 9am – 3pm, A Forum on Trade and Investment Opportunities in Jamaica will discuss opportunities to invest in Agribusinesses: Honey Bee, Shell Fish and Sea Island Cotton Farming; Renewable Energy sources: Wind farms and Solar energy and more. Invited Guests are Hon. Dr. Gordon Shirley the Jamaican Ambassador to USA and Dr. Basil Bryan the Consul General of Jamaica, NY. RSVP before November 1 to Pat Farr at 617-541-5510 x 27. Presented by The Jamaican Consulate of Massachusetts.

The National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and in partnership with WGBH Boston, is convening an influential group of content-producers, technology strategists and architects and public television leaders and supporters to boldly look into the future of public media produced by and for people of color in the new digital world: NBPC’s Technology Now! Leadership Summit. The summit will be held at WGBH, on November 8 and 9, 2006. Hip hop and new media pioneer, Chuck D. of Public Enemy, PBS president, Paula Kerger, and award-winning ABC and NPR journalist, Michel Martin, will give keynote addresses throughout the conference that look forward to a bold, new and diverse media. Other attendees include filmmaker and MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient, Louis Massiah, Orlando Bagwell of The Ford Foundation, Andrea Taylor of the Microsoft Corporation, John Henry Thompson, one of the chief architects of Macromedia, and Keith Brown, executive vice president of BET News. For information and to register, click here.

The Footlight Club announces auditions for A RAISIN IN THE SUN – November 9 at 7pm, November 11 at 11am with callbacks on November 11 at 3pm at 7A Eliot Street in Jamaica Plain. Audition will consist of readings from the script. Rehearsal schedule is Wednesday and Thursday, 7-10pm, plus Sundays 6-9pm. For descriptions of roles and contacts click here. Production dates are in February, 2007.

Urban Nutcracker, the family holiday classic with an inner-city edge, is December 8 – 17, this year at John Hancock Hall, 180 Berkeley Street, downtown Boston. Tickets are $20/$32/$40 To order and for more information call 877-548-3237.

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