Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #47

Contents

ROACH BRINGS RICH HISTORY TO THE STAGE

AUGUST WILSON’S LEGACY PRESERVED

VIVA LA FRANCE

CELEBRATATON OF A LIFE

AFFLECK’S BABY IS FAR FROM GONE

REVIEW & INTERVIEW OF BROLIN FLICK

“FIRE” BREATHS RAW EMOTION

TCOF’s 2nd DINNER & A MOVIE

UP-COMING EVENTS


ROACH BRINGS RICH HISTORY TO THE STAGE

by Kay Bourne

left to right: Kortney Adams (Ona), Johnny Lee Davenport (Salif), Riddick Marie (Cadence) and Michael Kaye (Allen) in “A House With No Walls”

b0a7d4b05ab9b43a31639eea538eb28d.124.82 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #47

Towards the end of ONA JUDGE‘s life, she was asked if she believed she made the best choice running from slavery. She had been fed and was fairly comfortable working in George Washington‘s Mount Vernon mansion house as a seamstress, (so talented that the U.S. President himself once described her as “a Perfect Mistress of her needle.”)

In New Hampshire, where she had fled, she lived her last years in abject poverty. When asked did she feel she’d made the best decision, she admitted her life was much more difficult than it would have been as a slave for Washington.

On the other hand, as a free person, she said, she had learned to read. She could come and go as she pleased. She could attend the religious services of the church of her choice. She had complete control over her time and how to spend it, taking up hobbies such as painting. “I have never regretted leaving Mount Vernon. I am free, and have, I trust, been made a child of God by the means.” (The research into Judge’s life in New Hampshire, by Evelyn Gerson, begun when she was a student in her home state’s university and completed as a cyber publication.)

The choice Ona Judge made and how she came to make it is one of the subjects of a new play directed by Lois Roach for New Repertory Theater, located in the Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St., Watertown. “A HOUSE WITH NO WALLS” by Thomas Gibbons features Kortney Adams as Ona Judge.

“A House With No Walls” also explores a contemporary option that has created a heated debate between two archeologists: Should the section of Washington’s presidential residence in Philadelphia they’ve uncovered that housed his slaves be referred to as the “slave quarters” or the “servants’ house,” a phrase which whitewashes the facts. Gibbons got the idea for the play when he heard this argument going on; the dig is located on the property just outside his office window.

The drama, which is a National New Play Network rollout, runs through NOVEMBER 18.

It’s a play still very much in development. And Roach plays a significant role in polishing the text as the actors work on their parts and she sees ways the story can be told more smoothly. “I started with Draft 5 and I’m on Draft 7 now;” she said, “and, for instance, the vision I had of some of the characters in Draft 5 has shifted.” Roach says she is often on the phone with the playwright as they work together on the script. “He is accessible and open. Very receptive,” she characterizes.

National New Play Network is a not-for-profit consortium of 17 or so theaters from various places in the country, including New Rep. The group’s mission basically is to give a playwright a number of stagings of his work so he or she can fine tune it. Gibbons’ “Permanent Collection” produced by New Rep when it was located in Newton, was NNPN’s pilot script. New Orleans playwright John Bigeunet’s “Rising Water” commissioned by NNPN in 2006, has been nominated for a 2008 Pulitzer Prize.

Roach is taken by “A House With No Walls’” interest in choices. “I hope the production will give a contemporary audience a feel for the choices that were made and the arguments within. Who do you want to be as a person? “Where do you draw the line? Choices are not always welcomed and the choices one person makes are not always received well by another person,” she said.

New Repertory Theater’s website


AUGUST WILSON’S LEGACY PRESERVED

by Caldwell Titcomb

Page 1 of 8 | Next page