Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #52

Contents

2008 AFRICAN AMERICAN THEATER FESTIVAL

LIFE AND ART OF CRITE x 3

BEFORE DR. SEUSS, CAME THE MASTER. . . MOLIERE

“HONEYDRIPPER” TAKES US ON QUITE A JOURNEY

SAYLES TRUE INDIE SPIRIT ALIVE IN “HONEYDRIPPER”

HOW SHE MOVE. . . MOVES FAST AND FRENETICLY

KBAR TRIVIA – WIN PASSES TO “ROSCOE JENKINS”

RESTORE YOUR SOUL AT BERKLEE

PLEASURE & PASSION IN FOOD & FILM

UP-COMING


2008 AFRICAN AMERICAN THEATER FESTIVAL

by Kay Bourne

8e3289b6db25ee95800bc849d24aeeb0.99.124 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #52Why does lifelong Boston resident JACQUI PARKER go all out to put on the AFRICAN AMERICAN THEATER FESTIVAL? Now in its eighth edition, year after year it merely squeaks by financially. One of the small group of marquee theater artists in Boston, her personal career is flourishing. She’s an Elliot Norton Award winning actor and a four time recipient of an Independent Reviewers of New England Award.

And, Parker has two other strengths in addition to acting: director and playwright. Upcoming gigs in those areas include directing Cy Coleman’s musical, “The Life” at The Boston Conservatory in March. And she is one of four Boston-area playwrights who are fellows in the 2008 slate of writers for the stage fostered by the Huntington Theatre Company (who staged eight of August Wilson’s 20th century cycle plays as they made their way to Broadway).

Why does she do it?

Our Place Theatre Projects, an urban acting workshop and drama producer of which she is artistic director, presents the 2008 African American Theater Festival at the Boston Center for the Arts, 529 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End, opening JANUARY 24.

Three plays are on the docket: Charles Fuller‘s story of a vicious teen-aged street thug and his impact on a neighborhood, “Zooman And The Sign,” the opening show; Celeste Bedford Walker‘s look at the riot that ensued after police mistreated Black soldiers stationed in a Texas training camp, “Camp Logan,” a story out of history; and Jacqui Parker‘s visit to the works of Zora Neale Hurston, a new play, “Feather on My Arms.” The three weekend festival concludes the second weekend of February, with each of the plays running on slightly different schedules. You can view a complete schedule here or phoning for tickets at 617-933-8600.

She’s motivated by a deeply felt list of reasons for why she carries on, and at the top, “the lack of plays staged locally that include people of color, and I don’t want to blame other companies for that if we ourselves don’t make the effort. Yet, I go to New York and see many quality plays about the lives of Black people that we aren’t seeing here. And not only Black, but Latino as well. So I’m determined no matter what the cost, we need to stage these plays rather than complain. Just do, don’t complain.”

“Even when the going gets rough, finding the money and all, or at the darkest hour, something in me says, I have to open doors for people. With this festival, actors and other theater artists are seen, which brings them to the attention of other theaters in the area and gives them good roles to do. Introducing actors of color and playwrights of color,” she said.

The effort is draining, however. “Last year was the worst financially. And when the festival was over, I was re-evaluating, thinking it’s time to focus on my career and have some peace,” she said. “I came home and there was a phone call from Nicole Parker, one of the three actresses in “From The Mississippi Delta,” saying, ‘thank you, Jacqui, for allowing me to be part of such an extraordinary work.’ And I think of the volunteers. We needed help in striking the set and Joseph Eveillard showed up. He’d been with Our Place Theater as a youngster but has now graduated from Boston Arts Academy and is going to college. There were hugs and he said, ‘You know I’ll always help if you need me.’”

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