Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #33

February 16th, 2007  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report

MIXED: a book review in Black and White

by Kay Bourne
(pictured: black Starbury Sneakers. Click to find Starbury’s near you.)

293 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #33Take a good look at Stephon Marbury‘s sneakers when the Knicks guard takes the floor this weekend, February 24, against the Celtics. “Starbury,” as he’s known in his hometown papers, has designed the footwear. He’s promised (get this!) that if the kicks hold up throughout the NBA 2006 – 2007 season, he’ll be marketing them (are you paying attention?) for only $14.98.

Marbury found out that he could make $15 sneakers and have the same top quality as the pro ball player brands that sell for $100 and more. He has said his concern is to make great sneakers affordable to kids who don’t want to ask their parents for the pricier athletic shoes. A friend in New York who has seen the sneakers says they’re a steal. They’ll be retailed exclusively by Steve and Barry’s University Sportswear, a quality outlet, and are scheduled for the stores August 17.

My source adds, “I thought this was amazing, finally a million-dollar athlete looking out for the middle to lower class fans. I’ll be the first in line to pick up a pair of black ones, and I’ll review them for KBAR then.”

The official STARBURY website

by Kay Bourne
(pictured: Eleane Theodore & Kevin Kalinsky in ALMOST, MAINE.
Photo credit: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.)

296 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #33Retreat to the calm of the Maine woods with SpeakEasy Stage Company‘s engaging night where tales of relationships provoke laughs and maybe a tear or two. The whimsical vignettes of love in “ALMOST, MAINE” take place even further north than tourists usually go, way up to the flat lands where the potato crop and a factory or two are about the only jobs in town.

Playwright John Cariani gets right down to matters of the heart, which are always more delicate than the sentiments on greeting cards. Investigating the theme that to get really close to one another we sometimes have to take a path that’s the long way around, he lets us in on some of the secrets of success and failures in coupling.

“ALMOST, MAINE” is as close to moviedom’s “date flicks” as theater is likely to get, but even so, encounters in the Pine State prove more thought provoking that those you usually find on the silver screen.

The pace is never hurried, as is appropriate for a rural setting, but never falters either, under the capable direction of Paul Daigneault. It’s a surprise when the actors come out to take their well deserved bows to see that a tiny cast of only two men and two women have played such a variety of people so profoundly: Barlow Adamson, Elaine Theodore, Kevin Kalinsky, and Maureen Keiller.

A serene and enjoyable night at the theater, “ALMOST, MAINE” continues through March 10 at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St. in Boston’s South End.

Speakeasy Stage Company official website

by Lisa Simmons
297 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #33 Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.

A celebration of the abolition of the slave trade in the U.S., Great Britain, and Denmark took place in 1830. In Boston, Africans and descendents of Africans marched with a band up Beacon Hill to the African Meeting House October 18, 1830 to give thanks for the day and, among other things, for Mr. Wilberforce and others who advocated for the abolition of the slave trade to British Parliament. The abolition of the slave trade did not stop slavery in this country or in others, but it did make the importation of Africans for slavery illegal. The struggle continued.

The new film AMAZING GRACE by Michael Apted (Lipstick, Enough) shows that struggle and is truthfully an amazing film. Its epic nature draws you in to the deep, rich history of the abolitionist movement in the British Empire during the late 1700′s and early 1800′s. The film tells the story of one man, William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) (Fantastic 4, Horatio Hornblower) who led the fight to abolish slavery and nearly lost his life in this passionate fight for freedom.

With urgings from his friend and soon-to-be the youngest prime minister in British history, William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch), Wilberforce introduces anti-slavery legislation to a Parliament whose members are heavily invested in the labor needs and financial gains that come with slavery. Deeply focused on the dramatic storyline with a balance of comical interjections, Michael Apted tells this story with precision. Historical information and character development are layered carefully on top of each other to strike the perfect balance of nobility and charm. The characters are executed brilliantly by this extraordinary cast.

The song, “Amazing Grace” is said to have been written by Captain John Newton, (and played masterfully played by Albert Finney) a slave ship captain who denounced the slave trade after 30 years of taking part in it. It was one fateful voyage that made him change his ways, and leave the sea to become a minister. It is through his urging and profound journal writings that Wilberforce is further pulled in to the fight against slavery. After many years fighting Parliament, Wilberforce almost gives up the fight and leaves London to take care of his health. It was his encounter with Barbara Spooner, (Romola Garai) an abolitionist, who later becomes his wife, who pushes him to return to Parliament and finish the work he had started years before. He is joined in the fight by a freewheeling Thomas Clarkson (Rufus Sewell) and freed slave and author of a slave narrative, his personal account of captivity, Oloudah Equiano (played by Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour) who had helped Wilberforce in his first attempt at legislation.

The film made its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September of 2006 but Goldwyn Meyer held its theatrical debut until February 23, 2007 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire.

AMAZING GRACE is a film not to be missed. It is rich in history and rich in talent and tells a gripping story of a man who through his passion and persistence makes the world a better place. It left me feeling inspired and asking myself, what am I doing and how am I making a difference.

Amazing Grace – The Movie

MIXED: a book review in Black and White
by Josiah Crowley © 2007
294 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #33 When 7-year-old bi-racial ANGELA NISSEL, driving out to the Philadelphia suburbs to visit her paternal white grandparents, asked: “Where are all the sidewalks?”, her African-American mother, a former Black Panther, replied: “I don’t know. They seem to just disappear once you get out of the city, don’t they?” Then, the girl asked: “Where are all the Black people?” And received the same response.

Her memoir, “MIXED: MY LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE” (Villard), is both hilarious and depressing, as it recounts her journey from the Philly projects, to an Ivy League education, to a stay on a mental ward and on to Hollywood (where she has spent the last four years as a writer/ producer of the hit TV sit-com SCRUBS). NISSEL recounts a life dealing with racism and ignorance on all levels of society in America.

This is funny? Yes and no.

One can see why NISSEL is a successful comedy writer – here, she manages to draw laugh-out-loud reactions, quickly followed by shock, as she recounts her story.

As a child, she asks her mother why there are no people on TV like her. Nissel’s mother convinces her the star of KNIGHT RIDER is bi-racial. “See that Afro he’s sporting? I’m tellin’ ya, Hasselhoff is bi-racial.” While her maternal grandmother tells the little girl: “Girl, Vanna White has a black woman’s body!”

Her experiences of trying to fit in as both Black and White, and receiving rejection from most classmates – no matter their color – is heartbreaking.

Whether recounting her childhood crush on Ricky Schroeder in his “SILVER SPOONS” heyday or attending Philadelphia’s most expensive private school, The Baldwin School (Grace Kelly‘s alma mater), and discovering most of her white female classmates major in anorexia – NISSEL vividly describes the pain of an adolescent trying to fit in … somewhere! In the process, she hits on such subjects as body image, pride and shame.

Reading this book is a humorous read with a sober message: a reminder that racism is present in every social strata in our country.

When Oprah Winfrey asked Tom Cruise if he ever discussed race with his bi-racial son, the movie star replied: “What is there to talk about?” Perhaps the world’s most successful movie star ought to give this captivating memoir a glance. One day, Connor Cruise may ask why the sidewalks disappeared.

ANGELA NISSEL’s official website

by DeAma Battle
298 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #33(This is Part 1 of a two part story by DeAma Battle of Art of Black Dance & Music, Inc.)

A stitch and a click away. . .Education. . . .skills. . .growth. . .liberation.

A trip to Senegal in January, 2007 was one like no other. Yoff is a community just outside of the airport and the main city of Dakar.

Two years ago, Mamadou Diop, President of A3D (African Development through Drum and Dance), and director of the popular Afro-pop band MAMADOU, began raising funds to fulfill his dream: to purchase ten sewing machines for a non-profit women’s organization, Triple D and ten computers for the A.E.DE.C. (Association pour l’Entraide et le Developpement Communautaire, a non-profit school).

Mamadou has worked as an arts educator in the Art of Black Dance & Music, Inc. with me over the last seven years. We both realized that our ideals, mission and goals for our two non-profit organizations ran parallel roads. I was honored when he asked me to be a part of the trip. The goal of this trip was a step toward helping women and children to gain new life skills, education and growth and to become self-supportive and liberated.

Mamadou made the contacts, from the Mayor of Salem, Kim Driscoll, encouraging the establishment of a sister city with Dakar, (a long term project) to organizing the visits with the holy men through Mrs. N’deye Mbow, President of Triple D, the organization receiving the ten sewing machines for a women’s job training center in Porokhane, Senegal. Mrs. N’deye Mbow is a woman of great social recognition because of her work for the children and the poor. The women’s job training center is one of her projects.

Our group of 14 consisted of A3D administration, including myself, and Mamadou‘s drum students and friends. As we embarked on our journeys through Senegal, we attracted National Senegalese television and four of the local newspapers.

The A.E.DE.C., ( Association pour l’Entraide et le Developpement Communautaire School – located in the city) consisted of about 1,600 middle to high school age students where the ten computers would officially open the new computer lab with our visit. The students were overjoyed and gave us a warm welcome in spite of the student/teacher protest at the adjacent school that threatened to stop us from entering school. Mamadou stepped out of the van and spoke to the students. Understanding why we were there, things quieted down, allowing the younger students to make a path for us to enter the school. We were warmly welcomed and offered cool beverages. As we met with teachers and students we could hear older students outside running back and forth across the courtyard.

We visited some of the classrooms, small in size, needing paint, and more desks and chairs. We reached the computer lab, freshly painted, the new computers already set up for our visit. After meeting some of the teachers, Mr. Solo, who is the school administrator, offered to supply technical assistance and some software over the next year.
Part 2 in the next issue of KBAR: A VISIT TO The Universite Mame Diarra

Art of Black Dance & Music, Inc. website

by Lisa Simmons
(pictured l to r: Lisa Simmons, Candelaria Silva, Danny Glover, Nayo Sanford, Pam Bailey, Mitzi Dorbu)
photo credit: Lolita Parker, Jr.

299 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #33DANNY GLOVER was in town to open the AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL at the Museum of Fine Arts on February 19. After a long flight from NY and some luggage problems, Mr. Glover made it just in time to introduce the film BAMAKO, a movie that he executive produced.

The powerful film centers on the city of Bamako in the country of Mali where a trial against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is taking place in a small courtyard in the city. Here, individuals who have been traumatized by globalization come to tesitfy about the how the increasing debt has affected their lives.

Danny Glover not only executive produced this film but also has a small role as a cowboy in an American “Spagetti” western being played out on the television as a family watches and enjoys the cavalier way these cowboys kill and wreak havoc on a town. There is a message here, like all the other little side stories that happen in this film. You must listen and watch intently.

Glover’s production company Louverture, is dedicated to developming and producing films that have a historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value, and artistic integrity. This particular film has all of that. In balancing the trial of the World Bank and IMF with the ins and outs of every day life in the courtyard, Director Abderrahmane Sissako‘s blending of these two important aspects of African life can get confusing at times but adds to the hightened awareness and importance of the story of a country fighting to survive.

“BAMAKO” and the other films to play at the African Film Festival until February 25.

MFA’s African Film Festival calendar

(photo by Meghan Moore)
300 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #33 The high price of fame is revealed in this roof-raising and soul-stirring portrait of American Blues legend, Dinah Washington played by Laiona Michelle pictured above. In “DINAH WAS” the ‘Queen of the Blues’ fights for her rights in the lobby of the Las Vegas Sahara Hotel where she is scheduled to perform but where she is not allowed to stay. Memories of her life and loves are woven together with live performances of her classic hits including “What A Diff’rence A Day Makes,” “I Wanna Be Loved,” and “Come Rain or Come Shine.” “Dinah Was” runs now through March 11 at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell. For more info click here or on the image above.

Wheelock Family theatre, presents Beauty and the Beast starring Angela Williams as Belle, until MARCH 4. Tickets are $23, $19, $15 with group rates and performances during February school vacation week. For info call The Wheelock Family Theatre Box Office at 617-879-2300. Wheelock Family Theatre is located at 200 The Riverway. Discounted parking is available at 375 Longwood Avenue.

The MFA Film Program is pleased to present their annual African Film Festival, February 16-24. This year features two films and a program of shorts from the African Film Festival NY Traveling Series: the tender A Child’s Love Story and Dumisani Phakathi’s South African family documentary Don’t F*** with Me I Have 51 Brothers and Sisters. Danny Glover produces and appears in Abderrahmane Sissako’s latest film, and indictment of globalism. Other highlights include U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, a South African version of Bizet’s Carmen. Countries from across the African continent are represented including: Mali, Senegal, South Africa, and Chad. Tickets are $8 for MFA members, seniors, and students; $9 for general admission. Call the Box Office at 617-369-3306 for ticket info.

Riley B. King, affectionately know as “B.B. King,” and one of the greatest blues singers and guitarists of all time, will be performing at the Fox Theatre, Foxwoods Resorts Casino on Friday, February 23 for one show at 9 pm.

ClimACTSglam, Theater Offensive’s annual fund-raiser invites you, for a fee, to strut your glam style FEBRUARY 24, at the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center at Villa Victoria, 85 W. Newton St. An auction and ticket prices that begin at $125 will net dollars for the company’s teen theater company True Color Youth Theater for youth who are LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender). The Mass. Dept of Education Youth Risk Assessment Study issued recently found that in comparison with their peers, LGBT young people are: five times more likely to commit suicide; four times more likely to skip school because they feel unsafe enroute or at school; five times more likely to use cocaine. The risk list goes on and on. The theater group is a safe haven and creative outlet for these teens.Guest artist is the former Weather Girl, Martha “It’s Raining Men” Wash who’ll give a performance just before the dancing begins.

Actors and theater job seekers: Saturday, FEBRUARY 24, 11am-noon, StageSource presents the FREE panel discussion: GET YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR at The 7th Annual Regional Entertainment Production and Administrative (REPA) Job Expo, 88 Tremont Street, 7th floor. This Q&A will present freelance theater designers, producers and production managers giving advise on what producers are looking for, networking, portfolio presentation and interviewing tactics. Followed by the REPA Job Expo 11am – 3pm. For info call 617-720-6066.

Boston Children’s Theater‘s production of the beloved E.B.White tale about a pig and a spider continues through Feb. 24. “Charlotte’s Web” performances are at 2 pm at the Grand Lodge of Masons, 186 Tremont St. at the corner of Boylston St. in downtown Boston. Tickets are less than last year! – $12, $15, and $18 but no children under 3 will be admitted, and there is no lapsitting. For more info call 617-424-6634 or click here. The roles are played by children from the Boston area.

Monday, February 26 at 6:30 pm: Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Finding Oprah’s Roots: Finding Your Own Harvard Book Store, 1256 Mass. Ave, Cambridge No tickets required. For info, click here.

GREAT ART. The Gallery at the Piano Factory is pleased to present “THREE: Artists of the African Winter Group” as its 2007 inaugural exhibition from now until March 4. The Gallery at the Piano Factory is located at 791 Tremont Street, South, End. The exhibition features the paintings of Laurence Pierce, Leon Robinson and Richard Waters, members of a local collective of visual artists in Dorchester, Massachusetts. While each artist works in a unique style, the contrast creates a lively display of complementary perspectives and techniques.

SIX ROUNDS/SIX LESSONS A TRAGICOMIC HIP-HOP CONCERTO, by JOHN ADEKOJE, directed BY LOIS ROACH for COMPANY ONE. SIX ROUNDS / SIX LESSONS is a no-holds-barred exploration of truth, mortality and fatherhood. In a metaphysical boxing ring, we experience the story of Ace, a strong black male of sculpted body and mind. A father, son, brother and husband, Ace seeks redemption and enlightenment as a DJ cuts and scratches to the beat of his salvation. Playwright John Adekoje weaves an unconventional tale of morals, love and the realities of the street. March 9 – 31. Tickets: $25-$30 Students: $15-$18, Seniors: $18-$27 **Wild Wednesdays – ALL TICKETS $15** Pay What You Can Performance (min $6) on Sunday, March 11. Info: 617.933.8600

An America Journey presented by “Revels Touring Ensemble” on MARCH 3 at 2pm at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street, Roxbury. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, successive waves of immigrants came through Ellis Island to Boston. This moving musical theatre production imagines a voyage when Irish, Italians and Eastern European Jews meet and share their stories, songs and dances. After WWII, many of the Irish came to Roxbury which had five dance halls in Dudley Square including Hibernian Hall. Learn about an important and colorful part of Roxbury’s hisory. For adults and children ages 5 and up. For more info call 617-541-3900.

ELECTRIC PURGATORY: THE FATE OF THE BLACK ROCKERS” by RAYMOND GAYLE , presented by The Color of Film on Tuesday, FEBRUARY 27, 6:30pm at The Boston Public Library-Copley Square, in the Rabb Lecture Hall, free and open to the public. ELECTRIC PURGATORY examines the struggles of Black rock musicians and the industry’s ambivalence towards them. Director Raymond Gayle spent the better part of a year traveling around the United States interviewing many of Black Rock’s elite including Fishbone, Vernon Reid, Adam Falcon, Jimi Hazel and Cody Chestnut. Distinguished journalists such as Flip Barnes, Darrell McNeil, Charlie Braxton, and Greg Tate, share their opinions and insight on the dilemma facing these artists. The film explores the origins of the Black Rock Coalition and its relevance in the music industry and takes a look at the stigma Black Rock musicians face in the Black community and more importantly, how to bring the Black audiences back into the fold.

ESSENCE MAGAZINE AND BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC ANNOUNCE THEIR SECOND NATIONAL HIP-HOP SONGWRITING CONTEST for teens, 15-18 yrs. old. deadline is March 9 and three winners will attend a high school music program at Berklee this summer. For complete contest rules click here.

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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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