Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #48

November 8th, 2007  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report


by Kay Bourne
424 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #48 For the opera “MARGARET GARNER,” Toni MORRISON revisited the account of a trial in February, 1856 which had inspired her to write her novel “Beloved.” The two act opera, first performed in May, 2005, is one of the few operas written about the African American experience, the other notable examples being George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and “Treemonisha” by Scott Joplin, an African American, as is Morrison.

New York City Opera, housed at Lincoln City, recently staged the emotionally involving “Margaret Garner” with its charming lyrical score from Richard Danielpour and a searing libretto by Morrison. Brilliantly directed by Tazewell Thompson and magnificently sung and acted with Tracie Luck in the title role, the stunning production so captivated the audience that cheers went up when a cruel overseer was killed in one of the twists of the gripping story.

Margaret Garner, 22, had escaped slavery on a night of record freezing temperatures, crossing the frozen Ohio River on foot in an expedition led by her husband who had been hired out to labor on a nearby estate. They were fleeing to Cincinnati, Ohio, a free state, less than 20 miles away from the Richwood, Kentucky estate, Maplewood, where she toiled and had been repeatedly raped by its owner Archibald K. Gaines.

When the U.S. Marshalls, including Gaines, find them, there is a shoot out in which the husband wounds two of the deputies. Faced with the imminent return to slavery, she slits her daughter’s throat and attempts to murder her three other small children rather than see them returned to slavery. Because Margaret Garner was subject to the terms of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 and also liable for murder in the state of Ohio, the trial became the longest fugitive slave case of the antebellum era. Had she destroyed property by killing the child? or committed murder? became the tangled issue that lengthened the trial.

Morrison has said that “Beloved” was about forgetting. About the avoidance of the subject of slavery that neither Whites nor Blacks are comfortable thinking about. That shutting out the past became structurally what held the book together. She approached the libretto knowing that in opera there is very little nuance and ambiguity. So while Morrison does portray Margaret Garner as a complex character, with the opera she keeps more to the facts of her life as Morrison could determine them from news accounts. “If you’re going to make it bigger and theatrical than you have to get your facts right,” she told City Opera dramaturg Cori Nelson about how the libretto differs from the novel inspired by the same life. Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

Three bus loads of Berklee College of Music students, including this writer, were present at the final performance of “Margaret Garner,” on September 29, thanks to Berklee faculty member Andrew List, a friend of the composer, who organized the day excursion. When the curtain fell to thunderous applause and a standing ovation, Toni Morrison came on stage, as did Tazewell Thompson and Richard Danielpour, to take bows with the cast. A week later in Boston, List orchestrated a residency for Danielpour which featured two programs of music and conversation open to the public, one night moderated by Dr. William Banfield and the other by Diane Richardson, both Berklee faculty members.

Berklee College of Music website

by Kay Bourne
Tasia Jones, Adobuere Ebiama, Marvelyn McFarlene.
photo credit: Company One

430 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #48 “THE BLUEST EYE” is the heart- wrenching story of an 11-year-old black girl who fervently believes changing the color of her eyes to blue will win her the familial love and societal acceptance she desperately craves. The drama about the terrible cost of a standard of beauty offers profound insights into issues of intrapersonal acceptance the Black community continues to address, and has a universal ring for the larger society with its bulimic teens and other such casualties.

Lydia Diamond‘s newly written, splendidly transposed stage version of Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison‘s first novel (1970) gets a stunning production from Company One. Sensitively directed by Summer L. Williams and superbly well-acted by a cast with no weak links, the two-act drama continues through NOVEMBER 17 at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, the South End.

Back in 1950, on the Broadway stage in “Member of the Wedding,” 12-year-old Frankie Adams teases the family’s Black cook, Berenice, when she puts in her glass eye because it is blue. Berenice (memorably played by Ethel Waters in the theater and the 1952 film version) who seems very comfortable in her skin, easily parries any more conversation on that subject with some teasing of her own – novelist/playwright Carson McCullers has brought up the subject but delves no further into it.

In “The Bluest Eye,” the coltish, innocent, sweet tempered 12-year-old Pecola Breedlove wears a beatific smile as she contemplates her dream of a life illustrated for her by her Dick and Jane primer. Played by Adobuere J. Ebiama with the kind of simplicity that brings a catch to your throat and inspires the profound desire to reach into the story to protect this vulnerable child, Pecola has a home situation that’s at about 180 degrees removed from the elementary school reader. Dad, well played by Christopher Long with a stumble bum daze, is an unemployed drunk who acts on impulses he doesn’t comprehend, while the frazzled, embittered Mom, portrayed by Talaya Freeman, also in a haunting performance, bestows her maternal affection on the spoiled ‘Shirley Temple’ automaton of a daughter of her white employer.

Balance to this unsettling home situation comes in the lives of two sprightly girls Pecola’s age whom Pecola goes to live with, briefly. With a Dad who is overly fussy but obviously loving (aptly portrayed by Aaron Andrade) and a Mom who keeps an eagle eye on her daughters, monitoring their behavior with a stern but deeply maternal hand (marvelously conveyed by Christina Bynoe), their parenting and family life is a textbook on mentally surviving the oppressive White supremacist doctrine that has an iron grip on Black lives in this Lorain, Ohio town (Toni Morrison‘s birthplace, by the way) during the years in advance of the Civil Rights Movement.

The irrepressible sisters are the ray of hope that eventually there’ll be a way out of the hateful morass of misplaced admiration. Marvelyn McFarlene as Frieda is the more conservative of the two with Tasia A. Jones as the skeptic Claudia who, for example, hates her Shirley Temple doll with blond curls and pale skin for looking like girls who snub her. (The baby dolls recall the famous experiment carried out by sociologist Kenneth Clark showing Black children generally favoring the look of White dolls and shunning or distrustful of dolls that looked like them which was instrumental in the success of the groundbreaking Brown vs. the Board of Education case that led to the desegregation of public schools.)

Rachel Hunt, who was the neglected scamp in Company One‘s outstanding production of “Mr. Marmalade,” here, is a sassy light-skinned school mate who enjoys flaunting her looks. A creepy individual known as Soaphead Church gets an appropriately oily performance from Andrade who, like many of the cast, play a multitude of parts.

Cristina Todesco has provided a good looking set that allows for the story to flow through various spots in a small town without scenery changes. Tony Kudners‘ lighting, along with Peter Baynes’ sound design, subtly supports the arc of the story which is Pecola’s descent into madness.

Playwright Diamond developed “The Bluest Eye” initially for Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater Company’s young adult division and then was given the go-ahead by Toni Morrison to stage it elsewhere. Currently working on her third Steppenwolf commission, a play based on Harriet Jacob‘s “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” Diamond is Huntington Theater Playwright Fellow and on the faculty at Boston University.

The Bluest Eye ticket information

by Kay Bourne
425 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #48 “Alabama Loyalists Greeting the Federal Gun-Boats” from the portfolio Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annodated) 2005. Offset lithograph and screen print; 39x 53 inches.

A show made up of only 15 pieces of an artist’s work could seem so small a selection as to not warrant attending, however, the buzz about KARA WALKER lends weight to the slight exhibit currently at the Fogg Art Museum, 32 Quincy St. on the Harvard University campus.

“Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)” is a series Walker did in 2005 using 15 blowups of pages from the 1866 to 1868 issues of Harper’s Bazaar newspaper, a Northern publication. The African American artist doctored these enlargements with jet black, cut-out silhouettes, taking the viewer back in time to the battlefields of the War between the States, as reinterpreted by the artist. Through a photo process she made 35 sets of which this exhibit is number 15. The show which commemorates the recent inauguration of Harvard’s first woman president, Drew Gilpin Faust, a scholar whose specialty is the antebellum South, continues through NOVEMBER 11.

Typically, Walker’s nightmarish scenarios have been set in the plantation South and depict stock characters from the racist imagination – the mammy, Topsy, Uncle Tom, Mandingo males, and lascivious women with sexual characteristics that echo the so-called Hottentot woman with the outsized buttocks who was a human display in a 19th century ‘Believe it or Not’-type side show.

Walker‘s scissors have made a difference, however. Far from the stiffly formal silhouette figures that in the hey day of this Victorian era art served as portraits of people at a lesser cost than a painting, these cut-outs are dynamic. They are sometimes enraged, at times defecating, sometimes fiendishly impish. High stepping. Violent. Impertinent. And, most pertinently, they are involved in perverse and other demeaning sexual acts with each other and with the plantation master and Southern belle.

There is also a trickster figure, a cut-out Walker refers to as “The Negress” and her “sainted character.” This silhouette tends to wear braided hair and sometimes oversized boots.

An outstanding example of her work is in the permanent collection of the MFA, Boston, installed in the hallway across from the Gund Gallery on the second floor.

In more recent work, Walker is also cutting out oddly shaped figures whose gender is difficult to assess.

Of late, Walker’s also been branching out to other times, such as the Civil War series, but not really relinquishing her theme which is that her phantasmagoric landscape reflects a depraved and sadistic past that is a legacy we can’t seem to shake off. Her black figures eclipse the journalistic interpretation of scenes such as Footes’ Gun-Boats Ascending to Attack Fort Henry, Alabama Loyalists Greeting the Federal Gun-Boats, an Army Train, Cotton Hoard in Southern Swamp, and Occupation of Alexandria.

Walker, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, has become very much the celebrity artist in the limelight as she plunges ahead relentlessly investigating the legacy of slavery – her cover for a recent “New Yorker” magazine depicted the human cost of Katrina where an apparently uncaring government left Black folks to fend for themselves.

A Kara Walker retrospective, which includes animated films “My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love,” opened this week at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art.

Kara Walker exhibit details

by Caldwell Titcomb
(pictured: Kimwana Doner.
photo credit: Jeffrey Dunn)

426 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #48 The Boston Lyric Opera has opened its season with Puccini’s “La Boheme,” a co-production with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, bringing to town a cast of principals, most of whom have not appeared with the company before.

This 1896 work is probably the most performed and best-loved of Puccini’s dozen operas, followed in popularity by his later “Tosca,” “Madama Butterfly” and the unfinished “Turandot.” The Boston company first presented “La Boheme” fifteen years ago, and for all its familiarity, its return is welcome when offered in such a good production as the current one.

At the heart of the tale are four impecunious young men who share a chilly Paris attic – Rodolfo, a writer; Marcello, a painter; Schaunard, a musician; and Colline, a philosopher – along with the two women, Mimi and Musetta, who are romantically linked with the first two.

An unusual feature of this production is that the pairs of lovers are bi-racial since both Mimi (Alyson Cambridge) and Musetta (Kimwana Doner) are sung by Black sopranos. Both couplings undergo some strain, with Mimi, a seamstress, eventually succumbing to tuberculosis.

Derek Taylor as Rodolfo and Cambridge make a lovely pair and sing well together, though Taylor did have one insecure high note in Act 1 at the opening performance. In a way, Musetta, who doesn’t appear in the first of the four acts, has a harder task of being coquettish and capricious in Acts 2 and 3 but making us believe her as serious, solicitous, and even prayerful in Act 4 – but Doner, in flaming red garb (with a white puppy in hand at one point), manages to pull it all off convincingly. Her famous waltz in the second act is a gem.

Timothy Mix‘s Marcello, Andrew Garland‘s Schaunard, and Matthew Burns‘ Colline are generally fine, as is Tom O’Toole, who doubles as a landlord and the elderly skirt-chaser Alcindoro, who is smitten with Musetta.

The colorful Christmas Eve celebration at the Café Momus brings on an adult chorus of 32 and a children’s chorus of twelve, plus fifteen supernumeraries. Director Timothy Ocel has scrapped some of the stage business that usually turns up in productions of this work. Erhard Rom‘s sets are on the skimpy side. Conductor Ari Pelto, in his debut here, has secured solid playing from his 55-person orchestra (plus a brief appearance onstage of a small marching band).

The production is sung in Italian, with projected supertitles in English.

One hour before each performance Richard Beams gives an illustrated lecture about the opera. These talks are free for ticket holders.

Performances of “La Boheme” continue through NOVEMBER 13 at the Citi Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont Street, to be followed by Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore” in March and Mozart’s “Abduction From the Seraglio” in April/May.

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(P.S. – I apologize for erroneously referring to “the late Marion McClinton” in the October 27 KBAR issue. Owing to ill health, Mr. McClinton had to withdraw as the director of August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean,” and was replaced by Kenny Leon.)

The Boston Lyric Opera website

by Lisa Simmons
(pictured: Robert Jones, at 25th Anniversary Princess Grace Awards Gala, with his mother, Kathy Jones and the Princess Grace Award.
photo credit: Matt Peyton, courtesy Princess Grace Awards)

429 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #48 Roxbury native, Buckingham Brown & Nichols graduate, Howard University graduate and now American Film Institute-soon-to-be graduate, ROBERT JONES, was awarded the prestigious Princess Grace Award for his film ‘The Get Down’. The award, given out in NYC in October of this year, was not only an incredible honor, but an important source of income as he works to find funding for his thesis project.

Growing up watching movies, Rob didn’t think of a career in film, (he was planning on joining the NBA) until his first year at Howard where on a whim, he took a film class where he made his first short film, and the rest is history. Albeit a short history.

In it for the fun of it and not to make money, Rob wrote another film outside of class entitled ‘Love, Hungry Madness’ that he anticipated would take a few weeks to shoot but ended up taking a few months and teaching him a great deal about the art and business of the filmmaking process. Well received, he figured he had a knack for this type of work and his unique style, a mixture of tones and textures within his films, caught the eye of one particular professor James Rada who mentored him through his remaining time at Howard.

Upon graduation and unsure of where to go next, he had a conversation with his friend/cinematographer who applied to American Film Institute.

AFI.” thought Rob. “That sounds good,” and he applied just two days short of the deadline. He got in. (Just so you know, so did his friend). “It was a fluke” he says but obviously the admissions team at AFI thought differently.

Fast forward through a few attempts at making films at AFI (the first year they are on a 3 cycle film structure and his first 2 films were not well received) so doubting his ability to really make movies, Rob was seriously considering coming home. His third film in the cycle, however, was well received and the same film he used to apply to the Princess Grace Awards.

Now, the story is not all that easy, needing money to complete his thesis film, since students are required to raise their own money, Rob had no idea where he was going to get the $60,000 that he had budgeted, until his friend (cinematographer) showed him the application for The Princess Grace Award. Once again, “Hmm,” thought Robbie, and just two days shy of the deadline, he applied, and won.

So, I see a theme, building ever so nicely for Jones, and one we might all consider: don’t spend so much time thinking about it, just do it, because you never know. For Rob, he says “what matters is the product and you have no way of knowing whether someone will like it or not.”

“I make movies for myself, the movies I want to make and I try to stay true to myself.” His parents and his family he says keep him grounded. His father always said, “focus and hard work” a discipline that Rob has obviously followed.

Well, the New York soiree with Roger Moore, James Earl Jones, George Lucas, Prince Albert II of Monaco, his sister Princess of Hanover plus many other high powered celebrities and film folks was both “surreal and an amazing honor,”

Princess Grace was very much devoted to emerging artists and after her death her husband Prince Rainer set up this foundation in here name to both honor and support these emerging talents.

Always asked, “what’s your tone, what’s your genre?” Jones can only say that he likes films that are small in nature but have universal appeal. He likes filmmakers such as the Coen Brothers, Tarrentino, and Alexander Paine who push the envelope a bit and make the viewer think a different way.

With the rapid trajectory of his career, we look forward, with anticipation to seeing not only the final cut of his thesis project, but what he has in store for us in the not to distant future.

Rob Jones and his production crew begin filming his thesis film “Mashed Potatoes” this month, and the team is still fundraising. Click here to visit the “Mashed Potatoes” website for more information on the film and the production team. Donations are tax deductible and welcome.

Princess Grace Foundation-USA website

by Josiah Crowley © 2007
423 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #48 FRANK LUCAS was the ultimate American Dream: with minimal education, he rose from poverty to run his own business, achieved success beyond one’s wildest dreams, was able to buy a beautiful mansion and lived the good life throughout the ’70′s. Lucas‘s business? He was the drug lord of Harlem throughout the 1970′s.

In Ridley Scott’s very well-done AMERICAN GANGSTER, Denzel Washington plays real life gangster Frank Lucas. He kept a low profile and was smart, charming, thoughtful. Also, violent, vicious and vengeful. Washington’s portrait is one of the strongest in this accomplished actor’s career. His usual charisma is even higher than usual, while his acting skills are, per usual, strong and subtle.

Equal to Washington is co-star Russell Crowe as Richie Roberts, the honest New York cop who managed the difficult feat of bringing Lucas down. With great turns by a cast of veteran supporting actors, including Ruby Dee, Josh Brolin and Clarence Williams lll, this film flies by; the viewer is never aware of the 157 minute running time. How many times can you say that?

Not a perfect film, but enthralling and well told. My biggest problem with the film is this: is the film portraying Frank Lucas as the hero he sees himself as or as the amoral, homicidal criminal he is? The film seems to waver in this regard. At the screening I sat through, the audience cheered when Lucas “taught” several characters “a lesson” and booed and hissed when Lucas when he was found guilty at the end of his lengthy trial. A film with great performances, camera work and score. But with a viewpoint that seems, by turns, to praise, then judge, Frank Lucas’ actions. Like Lucas himself, perhaps?

American Gangster website

by Lisa Simmons
422 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #48 It’s been quite a week of social justice film viewing. From Brian Haney‘s ‘The Price of Sugar’ to Uri Rosenwak‘s ‘The Film Class’ to TCOF’s “Dinner & A Movie” screening of ‘Amazing Grace’ it is ever so apparent that we, as viewers and creators of media content, have an obligation to tell and see stories outside of the mainstream Hollywood releases.

The Price of Sugar made by local documentary filmmaker Brian Haney, tells the story of the current day enslavement of thousands Haitian workers on a sugar cane plantation in the Dominican Republic. The only place, by the way, where the United States buys its sugar from. Workers, between the ages of 7-75, are paid 90 cents a day to cut sugar cane, 90 cents, of which is paid in vouchers and redeemable only at one high priced market. The food they get barely feeds one. Stripped of their identity papers once they cross the border, in the dead of night, amidst the promise of a better life, they are prisoners to a plantation that is now home and owned by one of the largest sugar families in the world, the Vicini’s.

Originally called “The Good Priest,” the film tells the story, not only of these enslaved workers but one priest’s, tireless effort to organize these workers and give them a better way of life. Father Christopher, a direct descendant of the King of Spain on his mother’s side and the British ‘Hartley jam’ family on his father’s side, has spent 30 years seeking rights and a better life for these workers. Under constant death threats, he continues his work. The Price of Sugar is a must see, but it is only at the Kendall Cinema for one short week, from NOVEMBER 9-16. It will make you think twice when you say “coffee light with two sugars, please.”

* * * * * * * *
‘The Film Class’, a film by Israeli documentary filmmaker, Uri Rosenwaks screened on November 4th at the Boston Jewish Film Festival and was co-sponsored by the Roxbury Film Festival. The film tells the story of a group of Afro-Bedouin women who come together to take a film class offered by Rosenwaks and the local NGO.

First, a little background on the Bedouin’s, a nomadic people, who settled in the Negev Desert somewhere between the 14th -17th century. The Bedouin’s owned slaves who were kidnapped by Arab slave traders and auctioned off in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Zanzibar. When Israel gained its independence in 1948, many of the Bedouins fled to the Gaza Strip leaving the slaves they owned in the desert, now free and on their own.

For the past 50 years, these Afro-Bedouins have lived outside of slavery but continue to be humiliated, ostracized and denigrated by the White Bedouins with whom they live along side of. Largely a Muslim community, the Bedouins reunited under the banner of Islam after the death of Muhammad in the 7th century. The reason this history is important is because The Film Class is not just a film about the Afro-Bedouin women learning the art and skill of filmmaking, it is a story of self-discovery. In the course of practicing interview techniques, the question was asked, ‘Who are your grandparents?’ and ‘Where did you come from?” Many of the women didn’t know the answer and so they took their cameras back to their families and started asking questions. Questions that no one had ever asked before about their heritage and how they came to the town of Rahat in the Negev Desert. What they found out was that they were brought there as slaves, kidnapped by the Arabs and sold in the Arabian Slave trade. Painful at times, this realization led them on a pilgrimage to Africa and to London to learn more of their history. They had no idea that they were decedents of slaves and finding out this information has given them more insight into the daily racism and hatred that they face from the White Bedouin community.

Currently doing the film festival circuit, the filmmaker is hoping that the film will get picked up for television broadcast here in the US, but until that time, the Step Forward Foundation has given funding for new cameras and equipment to continue the program with the idea of creating a Rahat community tv station.

Oh, the power of the media. The Boston Jewish Film Festival continues until NOVEMBER 11.

* * * * * * * *
The Color of Film’s screening of Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce who led an almost 20 year fight to abolish slavery in Britain, at the 2nd Dinner & A Movie event at Haley House Bakery & Café on November 2nd was a wonderful evening of food, film and conversation. Thanks to Chef Didi Emmons for cooking an amazing meal and Randy Testa from Walden Media for providing the film and to Nina LaNegra of The Roxbury Media Institute for leading a deep and important discussion of the issues surrounding this film. The film is soon to be released on DVD on NOVEMBER 13, and is a must purchase for all ages. It tells a compelling story and a narrative history of a man who fought passionately about the things he believes in. William Wilberforce also started the ASPCA, the society for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

431 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #48 The Commonwealth of Massachusetts invites artists of all disciplines to a FREE Artists & Entrepreneurship Conference” at the Copley Boston Public Library on NOVEMBER 10. Click here for more information.

An Evening of Jazz and Poetry at the Cultural Cafe, NOVEMBER 10, 7pm, featuring FIVE PAST MISTY and the LIBERATION POETRY COLLECTIVE who will read from their newly released anthology POETS AND THE KILLING FIELDS with ASKIA TOURE, TONTONGI, JOSELYN ALMEDIA, NEIL CALENDAR, GARY HICKS, ANNA WEXLER, ALDO TAMBELLINI, JILL NETCHINSKY and BRENDA WALCOTT, at 76 Atherton Street (off Washington Street) in Jamaica Plain. Free. For more Info call 617 373-3910.

This is the finale weekend of Black Rep‘s presentation of Jamaican playwright TREVOR RHONE‘s TWO CAN PLAY, a hilarious and revealing look at the perils of love, marriage, and the American dream, Jamaican style! directed by New York City based director MICHAEL ROGERS and featuring the talents of Black Rep Affiliate Artist RAIDGE and Boston-based Jamaican actress MARCIA FEARON. The show runs through NOVEMBER 11 at The Providence Black Repertory Company, 276 Westminster Street, Providence. Tickets are $18, and $10 for senior citizens and students, with Sunday’s 3pm matinee as Pay What You Can. For more information, call THE BLACK REP’s box office at 401-351-0353 or visit the Black Rep website.

W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research presents DAVID W. BLIGHT, Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition featuring a lecture and discussion on Professor Blight’s book “A Slave No More” Wednesday, NOVEMBER 14, at 6:30pm in the Thompson Room of the Barker Center at Harvard University, 12 Quincy Street, Cambridge. For additional information, please contact the Du Bois Institute at 617.495.8508.

COMPANY ONE presents Toni Morrison’s THE BLUEST EYE a play adapted by Lydia R. Diamond, until NOVEMBER 17, at Boston Center for the Arts See article above, and click here for more information.

On NOVEMBER 14, AmericanLife TV Network will premiere Part One of Martin Luther King, III’s “Poverty in America” documentary from 8-9pm, ET/PT and Part Two will debut NOVEMBER 15 from 8-9pm ET/PT.

ESAC presents A TASTE OF JP, it’s annual fundraiser to support is programs in homeownership, asthma prevention, youth education and the JP Peace Garden A TASTE OF JP is on Thursday, NOVEMBER 15, beginning at 6:30pm at The Cedars Hall, 61 Rockwood Street, JP. Tickets are $35 per person in advance and $40 at the door.

Franklin Park Coalition’s Community Fall Leaf Raking – Saturday, NOVEMBER 17, 10am-Noon – bring a rake if you can. Jumping in piles encouraged! Raking leaves on park paths not only helps the Boston Parks Department maintenance crew at this busy time of year, but helps return leaves into the woodlands to compost and enrich the soil. Meet at Valley Gates Parking Lot, midway along the main park road. Coffee and donuts will be provided. Families, community, youth, church and neighborhood groups welcome.

An ARTS & CRAFTS BAZAAR with Holiday Crafts & Gifts Show for C&M Educational Connections and Consulting is Saturday, NOVEMBER 17, 2-7pm at 323b Washington Street, in Four Corners, Dorchester. Free Admission, raffles, door prizes, American and Soul food on sale, kids arts & crafts, For information call Ms. Nelson at 617-282-9700.

The American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) invites you to the New England premiere of NILAJA SUN’s “NO CHILD…” under the direction of Hal Brooks, on opening night, NOVEMBER 23 with a Special FAMILY NIGHT discount: bring someone 15-21 years old (not recommended for 14 or younger) and receive $25 per person tickets for that night only (regular price is $79-$56). To get this discount on line, enter the promotion code FAMILY, or call the box office at 617-547-8300 and mention the FAMILY NIGHT promotion. “No Child…” is an Obie Award-winning production based on Nilaja Sun‘s experiences as a teaching artist in New York City’s public schools, where every day, many students faced huge challenges in simply coming to school. She used theatre to help students discover strategies for facing their daily academic and emotional challenges. Sun assumes the roles of more than a dozen characters, including herself, students, parents, teachers, security guards, and an insightful janitor, and invites us to watch as she works with the students to produce a play. Through it all she shares her sharp commentary on public education policy and the inspiring resilience of urban adolescents with humor and grace. A.R.T.’s Loeb Stage is located at 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge. For more information call the A.R.T. Box Office at 617-547-8300.

Enjoy a Boston holiday tradition with the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists’ 38th BLACK NATIVITY in The Tremont Temple, 88 Tremont Street, Downtown Boston, beginning NOVEMBER 30 – DECEMBER 16, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Call 617-585-6366 for more information and group discounts.

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