Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #41

Contents

“RAISIN IN THE SUN” SWEEPS EMACT AWARDS

LOVE FOR LOVE’S SAKE

THERE’S NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH THIS?

13, AN UNLUCKY NUMBER?

UP-COMING EVENTS


“RAISIN IN THE SUN” SWEEPS EMACT AWARDS

by Kay Bourne

Dosha Beard as Lena Younger (Best Actress) and Steven M. Key as Walter Younger (Best Actor)

475d89d79f4a384dd7dc5caf02299348.124.93 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #41The Footlight Club‘s production of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A RAISIN IN THE SUN” took most of the major awards at the 54th Annual Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theaters’ (EMACT) Drama Award Festival” last weekend, including ‘Best Production’. The competition took place for three days, June 8 – 10 in the Marion D. Campbell Performing Arts Center at the Groton School in Groton with nine companies vying for awards.

This is the first play about the Black Experience to have entered the prestigious competition. “I’m unaware of a play with specifically African American subject matter having previously been entered,” said Douglas Cooper, EMACT president, although he can only vouch for the 20 years he’s been associated with the organization. Set on Chicago’s South Side, sometime in the decades following World War II until the late Sixties “A RAISIN IN THE SUN” relates the story of the Younger family and their dreams of improving their lot in life.

The other awards that went to the drama directed by Heather Fry and produced by Sandi McDonald are ‘Best Supporting Actress’ – M. Yvonne Murphy as Berneatha Younger, ‘Best Actress’ – Dosha Beard as Lena Younger, ‘Best Actor’ – Steven M. Key as Walter Younger, ‘Best Performance Values’, ‘Best Ensemble’, ‘The John J. Goodwill Best Director Award’ – Heather Fry, and ‘The Paul J. Reale Outstanding Production Award.

As well, the production took a number of nominations: ‘Best Lighting’ – Jon Bonne, ‘Best Set Design’ – Steve Orr, ‘Best Sound Design’ – Heather Fry, ‘Best Actress’ – Daria Johnson as Ruth Younger, and ‘Best Supporting Actor’ – Nahson Rosenfeld as Travis Younger.

EMACT, which currently has a membership roster of 37 member theater companies, also has some corporate members such as Stage Source. According to the bi-laws, in order to compete, a company must have existed at least two years before joining. The judges or adjudicators are professionals in that field. This year’s trio of judges included Lynn Kremer, a director and playwright whose residences have included The Smithsonian Institute, Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center and the Boston Center for the Arts and who trained in Bali; Kevin Gardner, an Equity actor, director, and teacher and broadly published author; and Spencer Watson, a roving adjudicator for The Theater Association of New York State and The Pennsylvania Association of Community Theaters.

The companies are asked to keep their shows to only an hour. That meant Heather Fry had to cut an hour or more. “I worked backwards,” said Fry, “asking myself ‘What is the essential information the audience needs to understand so they get the significance of the core and the climax of the play?’ which is about Walter becoming a man.”

One of the adjudicators especially appreciated Fry‘s perspicuous cuts. At the festival following the staging of all the competitors, when the judges give comments, that adjudicator said “I was so apprehensive when I saw that you were doing ‘RAISIN’ because it is such a tightly crafted play. I didn’t think it could be done in the allotted time. You did a wonderful job of cutting this play.”

The other competitors this year were The Hovey Players, The Lexington Players, The Burlington Players, The Theater Company of Saugus, Curtain Call in Braintree, Acme Theater Productions of Maynard, The Concord Players, and The Colonial Chorus Players of Reading. The 130 year-old Footlight Club, the oldest continuously operating community theater in the country, is located in Eliot Hall at 7 A Eliot Street in Jamaica Plain.

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