Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #54

March 18th, 2008  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report

Contents
GAITHER DELIVERS LUSH TALK ON ROXBURY ART
AN ACTOR ADAPTS TO THE STAGE
PARKER DIRECTS A TOO SHORT RUN OF “THE LIFE”
SEND YOURSELF ROSES – book review
LISA MACK – THE PROFESSIONAL WOMAN
THE GIBSON GIRL
“ROAD TRIP” HAS FUN FAMILY VALUES
UP-COMING EVENTS


GAITHER DELIVERS LUSH TALK ON ROXBURY ART
by Kay Bourne
(Interior of Cunard Street apartment “Mirror” watercolor by Richard Yarde)

474 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #54Some pictures are worth more than a thousand words, as superbly demonstrated by art historian E. Barry Gaither recently at the Dudley Square branch of the Boston Public Library.

His engrossing, hour- long talk, lushly illustrated with color slides, celebrated the painters and sculptors of Roxbury who have flourished here over the past 100 years. The Monday evening lecture at 75 Warren Street by the executive director of the Museum of the National Center of Afro American Artists was a joint project by the Friends of the Library and the Discover Roxbury trolley tours.

Gaither came to Boston in 1969 at 25-years-old as curator for the Museum of the NCAAA at the invitation of NCAAA founder and artistic director, Elma Lewis. And in the ensuing years he has staged well over a hundred exhibitions at the museum and, as well, curated large exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston that advanced the reputations of Roxbury-based artists. He has so deeply familiarized himself with their work, he is often called upon to write introductions to catalogs and essays for books which reference painters and sculptors associated with Roxbury.

On February 25, he first commented on the African American artists here who came into their own in the early years of the 20th century whose careers have been a source of encouragement and pride to the many younger artists to follow. One of the important early figures Gaither talked about was Allan Rohan Crite (1910 – 2007) who grew up in Lower Roxbury at 2 Dilworth Street and lived there much of his life until relocating a few blocks away to the South End where that townhouse at 410 Columbus Avenue house serves as a museum of his art. He was forever on the streets, sketchbook and pencil in hand drawing the people and places he loved. Elma Lewis once remarked that as a child she would see Mr. Crite here and there in the neighborhood which sparked her imagination that she too could be an artist. There is currently a retrospective of Allan Rohan Crite‘s work from his teen years onward at the Museum of the NCAAA, 300 Walnut Avenue in Roxbury.

Other artists of that generation and the next Gaither visited were sculptor John Wilson whose bronze “Big Head” sits on the lawn of the Museum of the NCAAA which commissioned the work and Calvin Burnett (1921 – 2007), whose work that is owned by the Museum is on exhibit there through July 27. Burnett was the first art teacher for the Elma Lewis School, starting those classes in 1950, and played a leading role in establishing the Boston Negro Artists Association (later renamed the Boston Black Artists Association) which presents the annual Art in The Park outdoor exhibit among other activities.

Another of these seminal artists is Richard Yarde, who grew up in an apartment on the part of Cunard Street in Lower Roxbury that was demolished by the Boston Redevelopment Authority in the 60′s. Critically acclaimed as one of America’s foremost water colorists, Yarde‘s life size installation series in 1982, The Savoy Ballroom, (sponsored by the Studio Museum in Harlem) is credited with the historic dancehall home to the great swing bands garnering the renewed interest that has protected it from the demolition ball.

Among the artists Gaither discussed who emerged in the 60′s, 70′s, and 80′s were Dana Chandler and James Rueben Reed, who co-directed the African American Artists in Residency Program at Northeastern University, which this November will celebrate its 30th anniversary. The talk concluded with a survey of some dozen or more artists who reside in Roxbury today.

The library-based talks continue with State Rep. and historian Byron Rushing speaking on Roxbury’s History from Native Americans to New Americans. The overview of Roxbury as home to a continuum of people from earliest days to the present also includes a trolley tour. Both events are free but pre-registration for the tour is required. The talk is March 27 at 6 pm and the tour is March 29. The program is funded by the Fellowes Athenaeum Trust Fund. For more info you can phone 617-427-1006 or email Marcia@discoveryroxbury.org.

Official Site of the National Center for African American Artists


AN ACTOR ADAPTS TO THE STAGE
by Kay Bourne
(pictured: Maurice Parent performs ‘Ten Cents a Dance’
photo credit: Mike Lovett)

472 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #54An aging Harlem hustler reminisces. A hyper dancer frantic to score some tickets to a Madonna concert hastily sends email after email. A militant ACT UP activist tempers his anger during a visit to a hospital ward where a friend is dying from AIDS.

On the day of Judy Garland‘s funeral, a wistful, button down conservative at a piano bar indulges in martinis and show tunes as on the street outside, the Stonewall riots build in intensity as gays and trans-gender people battle New York police.

A muscular, Afro-sporting stud aggressively bids for a mate at the Continental Baths. An emotionally stable, moneyed exec enjoys a day at the beach with his partner.

Every actor is expected to be chameleon-like but MAURICE E. PARENT takes that implicit challenge to the max in SpeakEasy’s excellent staging of Terrence McNally’s tales of gay life “SOME MEN” —- and he does it in a flash! as one scene tumbles into another anecdotal sketch in this rapid paced time capsule that views eras from the Harlem renaissance to the present. Moreover, in every instance Parent mines the humanity of the character whether he has the bulk of the lines or hardly any dialogue at all. The SpeakEasy production of “Some Men” continues through March 29 at the Calderwell Pavillion at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End. For ticket info call 617-933-8600.

The actor’s parents were opposed to his going into acting.

He grew up in Prince George County near Washington, D.C. His mom, now retired, was an accountant with the federal government who worked for Homeland Security after 9/11. His dad designs computer chips. They were thinking of engineering as a future for Maurice, who entered Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh with that goal in mind.

Instead he discovered dance and music and acting. And at age 20, he got to do a dance intensive at Dance Theater of Harlem.

“I’d only been dancing for a year,” relates Parent in a recent conversation at a South End restaurant nearby the Boston Center for the Arts where “Some Men” continues through March 29. “It was embarrassing to be the worse dancer in a room with 18-year-olds. I did have some natural talent and my learning curve was steep, so knowing the value for doing musical theater I stayed with it.” Stay with it he did, next enrolling in New York University where he gained a Master of Arts in Music Theater.

Along the way, his mom and dad saw how much he enjoyed being in the theater and “they’re my biggest fans now.”

Parent became known to Boston audiences when director Rick Lombardo cast him as Coalhouse Walker, Jr. for New Rep‘s production of the musical “Ragtime.” Parent had played the role at NYU – his mom hired a bus and brought forty-five people to the show. Thrillingly, at that time he also met Brian Stokes Mitchell who originated the part. Introduced by a mutual friend, Stokes came up to Parent, “shook my hand and we talked together for twenty minutes!”

After the New Rep production, Parent worked with Leslie Uggams in the musical “The Rink” at The Cape Playhouse. Parent remembers the moment he recognized what it feels like to be on stage with a star. “We’d rehearsed our number pretty thoroughly before she joined us for the first time in a rehearsal but when she opened her mouth and sang, we couldn’t sing. She’s such a pro and her voice is so beautiful.”

Parent has worked steadily for Boston companies since Coalhouse Walker, Jr. He was Black in New Rep‘s “The Wild Party,” Dr. Carrasco/the Duke in Lyric Stage‘s “Man of La Mancha,” and Belize/Mr. Lies in Boston Theatre Works “Angels in America Parts I and II.”

He says that for him the theme in the roles he’s performing in “Some Men,” is the courage these men have shown facing the roadblocks of their eras from the 20′s through to today.

“It’s the reaching out and getting what you want. We don’t have claws. We don’t have fur. What we have to use is our intellect. It’s not a matter of what is in your way, you can find a way to adapt,” he said.

Speak Easy Stage Company website


PARKER DIRECTS A TOO SHORT RUN OF “THE LIFE”

THE LIFE, directed by JACQUI PARKER at Boston Conservatory Theatre, 32 Hemenway Street (for only a single weekend, March 5 – 9) is a high stakes, high voltage powerhouse, set in Times Square—where pimps, prostitutes and hustlers make their living, living off others.

Cy Coleman’s gritty score has the musical depth of Richard Rogers“Slaughter on 10th Avenue” and the hard-driving rhythms from the height of ’70s pop. The story is set at Broadway and 42nd Street, pre l980 before Disney cleaned up the area —but the ‘fros and the clothes scream the funkadelic ’70s. The prostitutes even get a bodacious little number called “My Body is My Business,” knocking feminism on its ear.

One show-stopper in THE LIFE follows another, hardly giving you time to breathe. The mega-watt performances are as good as any on the Great White Way. I wouldn’t be surprised if several Conservatory alums landed right there after this!

Director Jacqui Parker‘s cast is super-energized, as if they were escaping atoms from a particle accelerator. The sparks are palpable, so much so that the audience can hardly contain itself from cheering wildly after each number. (I could hardly contain myself.) Michelle Chasse‘s slick choreography incorporates jazz, ballet and the funky chicken! Just watching the pimps strut their stuff in David Costa-Cabral’s color coordinated leisure suits (and hats) is a hoot. And can these performers sing and dance! Music director F. Wade Russo makes the score sizzle.

Every character in the show gives 200% — with Stephanie Umoh front and center as the hooker with the heart of gold. Umoh sinks her teeth into the character and spits out a fiery performance laced with genuine tenderness. Anich D’Jae is sensational as the bold, brassy sidekick, the gal who knows the ropes and can handle any situation. The charismatic Keyon Richardson is a mythic villain of operatic proportions. Bud Weber makes the opportunist/narrator role ooze with sleaze and Nicholas Ryan Rowe brings a certain sweet frailty to his doomed hero role. Peter Waldron‘s simple street-set with subway stairs and tawdry neon signs glistens in John Malinowski‘s hazy light. Kudos to the crew for making scene changes so smoothly and to Waldron for the evocative set pieces, like the circular bed, which speak volumes about the characters.

Perhaps the folks at Boston Conservatory should consider longer runs for their musicals.

The Boston Conservatory


SEND YOURSELF ROSES – book review
by Josiah Crowley © 2008
477 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #54JANUARY 3, 1995: Actress & Chair for ‘Planned Parenthood’ KATHLEEN TURNER spoke at a press conference at Boston’s Arlington Street Church just 4 days after Pro-Lifer John Salvi’s shootings at two Brookline, MA abortion clinics, which left two dead, four others wounded, and everyone shaken up. The flamboyant actress, known more for her trademark husky voice than her social causes, stood up for the Right to Choose. Never – even in liberal Massachusetts – did it seem like a more controversial cause. Turner stated that as a teenager, she was inspired by Margaret Mead‘s words “We should never doubt that a small group of committed individuals can make a difference.”

In this smart, unusually candid, funny and – dare I say – inspiring memoir, “Send Yourself Roses: My Life, Loves And Leading Roles” by Kathleen Turner and Gloria Feldt (Springboard), she gives equal measure to Turner the actress and the activist.

The daughter of an American ambassador, Turner was raised in Cuba, Venezuela, Canada, England and Washington, DC. One of four Irish Presbyterian children, Turner was raised to believe “community service was to be performed by everyone”.

Indeed, her family opposed her pursuit of an acting career. Her mother informed the teenager she was being “selfish” to pursue a career in the arts rather than in community service, like her siblings. To which the feisty teenaged Turner replied: “Give me twenty years, I’ll make a difference.”

Indeed, she has. Quietly. With minimal coverage. And where it most counts. One on one. In the early ’80′s, during the height of the AIDS crisis, she visited NY University Hospital‘s AIDS ward (“never underestimate what a little attention can do for a person”). For the last twenty-five years, she has volunteered for City-Meals-on-Wheels, personally delivering food for Manhattan’s elderly. Imagine being a lonely shut-in and hearing THAT VOICE over your intercom: “Your hot meal has arrived” ! This in addition to her work with Amnesty International, women’s issues and abused children.

Turner‘s journey from unknown actress to one of the biggest film stars of the ’80s to the Tony-nominated & Olivier-winning Broadway & London stage star of THE GRADUATE & WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? was filled with unique challenges. Waitressing & appearing in off off Broadway plays, Turner was constantly rejected when auditioning for lucrative tv commercials (“No one wanted to hear me announce:’ What a clean, shiny floor!’ “) When she finally landed a well-paying soap opera role, Turner was surprised to learn THE DOCTORS‘ writing staff didn’t speak to each other, which led to her character being “a sophisticate” one day &, often the very next day, having “a limited vocabulary”. She begged the producer to “let me play her as a drunk; this will explain her mood swings.” Thus, Dr. Nola Aldrich – a character for which Turner still gets recognized 30 years later -became the soap world’s first comic villainess.

Landing her signature role – BODY HEAT‘s femme fatale – scared Turner.” I was no great beauty. I was a skinny woman with long legs, almost no boobs, good hair and bad teeth”. She overcame the challenge by displaying genuine acting chops. And by wearing a retainer that hurt and changed the way she spoke.

Describing herself as “blunt”, Turner refers to” nasty” Burt Reynolds as her “sworn enemy”, ROMANCING THE STONE on and off screen lover Michael Douglas as “a wonderful friend and a terrible enemy “(she’s experienced both of Douglas’ sides) and states legendary director Ken Russell a ” mad, self-sabotaging genius”.

Equally candid about her own shortcomings, Turner doesn’t soft soap herself. She describes her progressive alcoholism as going from “fun social drinker” to “nasty drunk” and describes personal examples of where that disease took her.

Turner also describes her rheumatoid arthritis (currently in remission) which lead her to insidious pain, chemotherapy and a wheelchair. Her doctor told her she would never walk again. To which Turner replied:” F*** you.” She was walking six months later.



Turner recently made her off-Broadway debut as a director with the successful revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play CRIMES OF THE HEART. She continues her work for social causes. A flawed character with her heart in the right place, Turner states:” One person does make a difference.” This great book bears that out.


LISA MACK – THE PROFESSIONAL WOMAN
by Josiah Crowley © 2008
475 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #54LISA MACK is a star. And Boston audiences are lucky to have her in our presence. She’s currently appearing as ‘The Professional Woman’ in the Stuart Street Playhouse’s revival of MENOPAUSE – THE MUSICAL! For anyone who’s interested in true talent, you owe it to yourself to get on down to the theater for its limited run. (The show will be dark for the Christian holidays March 17-25, but will re-open MARCH 26). If you miss the opportunity to see this Baltimore-based performer, you’ll be kicking yourself.

Some performers are professional, with outstanding gifts, but lack that something special: star quality. It’s not something they teach in acting classes: you either have it or you don’t. Lisa Mack has a voice from the angels – the timber of Donna Summer, the depth of Dianne Reeves – razor-sharp comic timing, and outstanding dramatic skill. Her potential is limitless. Boston audiences are truly fortunate to have her for this limited run.

In a recent interview, Mack spoke about her life as an African-American musical theater actress and all its joys and challenges. Off-stage, Mack is as vital and warm as she is talented on stage. No attitude, but lots of enthusiasm (“A good attitude helps in this business. Word spreads quickly in this business: if you’re difficult, no matter how talented, you won’t be getting hired for the long haul”.)

Mack‘s future promises endless opportunities. She recently signed with Ultra Nate‘s label & will be embarking on a European tour to promote her upcoming CD. Her previous CD, DREAMS TO REALITIES, is on sale in the lobby of the Stuart Street Playhouse after performances of MENOPAUSE. Having already sold 1,000 copies, it is a great compilation that shows off Mack’s impressive vocal gifts. In the future. it’s sure to be a collector’s item. In the present, it’s a terrific CD worth the investment.

Mack, a Marylander, has played the role of ‘The Professional Woman’ in Baltimore and says the musical is a unique experience: “a grand celebration of women” that has audience members, after the shows, “hugging and crying and getting kissy kissy”, thanking the cast members for addressing the once forbidden topic of menopause and all its complications. For some women, it’s the first time they’ve seen the subject portrayed on stage.

A child of divorce (her parents split when she was 4), Mack was a shy child who took solace in food. Although she began singing with her church choir as a child, the idea of performing solo scared her: “I thought the audience would go: “Look at how fat she is!”

While in college (she graduated from Bowie State with a BA in Communications), she auditioned for a college play. Always encouraged by the women in her family, she received tremendous feedback and decided “my talent is a gift to be shared”.

She appeared in RAISIN,THE WIZ , AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ and has opened for Stephanie Mills. She appeared three times in 2003 on the revised version of STAR SEARCH. As a finalist, she was seen by 14 million viewers and said it was a great experience (“Arsenio Hall was fun, telling jokes”, celebrity judge Naomi Judd “maternal, warm, encouraging”). Mack is ambitious: her dream role would be to portray Ella Fitzgerald and would also love to act in MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM. She’s got the kind of talent that could pull off these diverse roles.

Mack is interested in performing for the rest of her life.”Singing is my passion” and states Patti LaBelle is her role model: “At 60, she’s still performing.” Also, Mack describes meeting her idol: “Ya know how sometimes, you hear stories about how someone you’ve admired your whole life, turns out to be a jerk? Patti was just wonderful!”

Mack acknowledges that she’s in a tough business. “Speaking as an African-American actress in musical theater,” Mack says “I’m in a very competitive field. For one thing, there just aren’t that many roles for actresses of color. For example: a White actress and a Black actress could each audition for a musical; while a White actress might be considered for, say, four roles in the show, the Black actress would only be thought of for one role in the show. “

Lisa Mack is a not only a star, but a thoughtful, ambitious lady who believes strongly in God, has a positive attitude and is not afraid of hard work. She will go far. Having her among us for the next few months is a real gift for Boston theatergoers. You need to get to the Stuart Street Playhouse to see MENOPAUSE – THE MUSICAL! now. If you miss this production – with its strongest Boston cast yet (Kathy St. George, Mary Callanan and Carolyne Warren co-star), you’ll hate yourself in the morning.

MENOPAUSE: The Musical! ticket information


THE GIBSON GIRL
by Killian Melloy
(reprinted by permission from Edge Boston)

476 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #54Class, race, socio-economic opportunity, academic achievement: all worthy topics for drama–or, in the case of KRISTEN GREENIDGE’s THE GIBSON GIRL, rich pickings for comedy.

Ruth (Michelle Dowd) has two daughters, Valerie and Winifred. Though they are sororal twins, the girls are very different in complexion, as well as in character and attitude: Winifred is obedient and studious, willing to play teacher’s right arm and drag her truant sister out of the girls’ restroom and back to class.

Valerie, on the other hand, is insouciant, willful, and unconcerned with the consequences of her antics. Setting up an office in the girls’ room (complete with posters of African American heroes like Langston Hughes and Malcolm X), Valerie spends her time bopping to hip-hop and re-selling feminine hygiene products.

Despite their differences, the girls form a confederation of two in the face of Ruth’s erratic behavior: though professionally successful and well turned out, Ruth is emotionally stuck in place, having been left behind by her ex-husband, J.C.. (Stephen Key), a university professor specializing in the study of African-American women.

J.C. is paralleled by a white apartment building supervisor named Nelson (Greg Maraio), whose interest in African-American women is more than scholarly. Discussing the “roundness” of the “Nubian Queen,” Nelson conducts interviews with himself (alternating between himself and an imaginary interlocutor named Charley). When his flights of praise for the female form reach critical mass, Nelson bursts into erotic dance with an uncontrollable ecstasy: it’s not clear whether he’s schizo or just really hot for African-American women, and in less skilled hands his reveries would be scary, but Greenidge gives Nelson just the right words, and Maraio gives those words just the right inflection, to make Nelson seem, if not harmless, then at least not overly dangerous.

Nelson likes to hang out in the laundry area, snoozing in a warm zone behind a drier where he has an African cedar bench set up. The warm air flowing over the wood carries a scent up to floor seven, where Nia (Valencia Hughes-Imani) lives. Scent is a major part of Greenidge‘s theme: the wild essence of some sweet perfume on the wind that can carry back memories, in a Proustian flash, or maybe even bring back love and lovers from long ago. However, the scent of the cedar cannot restore to Nia something long-lost: for that, she needs her brother, Ladell (James Milord), who likes to find his wardrobe, and the occasional gift, while shopping at the Salvation Army.

As transgressive, and as funny, as Nelson’s antics may be, they are evenly matched by the rousing head-to-heads that Ladell and Thelma (Valerie Stephens) get into during Ladell’s shopping expeditions to tag sales and thrift stores. Whether scuffling over a jacket or flirting over a picture frame, the two get a dynamism going that is both menacing and sexy: that’s as it should be, because Ladell and Thelma are the crux upon which the deeply human mysteries of the play turn.

The Gibson Girl was a feminine idea from the opening years of the 20th century. She was a fantastical;, and phantasmagorical, combination of beauty, competence, elegance, and strength, an impossible standard by which crazed bachelors measured their ideal mates. (Which might explain why they were bachelors.) Greenidge looks back at that oddity with the understanding that the Gibson Girl has never really left us: she’s with us still, in a variety of colors and ethnicities, even a variety of genders. Ruth telling her psychic that “Nubian Queens” don’t do their own floors (and certainly don’t smell of Murphy’s Oil soap!) speaks to entire sections of libraries devoted to the subjects of race, gender, and class.

But while those profound subjects create a backdrop to the play, they don’t overwhelm or co-opt it. There’s a little (or a lot) of the Gibson Girl in each of these magnificent women, and she’s not always the calm and mannered, buttoned-up creature of yore. She’s bursting with flames of regret, guilt, and passion: flames that not even a good dousing with maple syrup can snuff. (See the play, and then you’ll understand: The Gibson Girl, live on stage, is its own best explanation.)

The script doesn’t explain everything, tie everything up, or develop every nuance. But it does create a slow, sweet tension, delivering a last-moment shock of recognition that carries like a current into the audience.

The play’s most haunting elements lie in the set design, which consists of several small environments separated by partitions or, in the center of the set, what looks like a violent rip tearing out a section of wall. Through this gap can be seen the sinuous shapes of trees, with definite female forms: a gorgeous visual metaphor for the play’s broadest themes. Painted on the floor are branches that lead the way to a sapling sprouting taps and buckets for gathering sap.

The set is designed by Jesse Beecher in perfect accord with the script, and the sound design by David Reiffel–razor sharp in timing–and lighting design by Mark Abby Van Derzee service the set design. The costumes, by Joy Adams, fit into the whole effortlessly, and director Victoria Marsh lets the whole production grow emotionally lush.

The Gibson Girl plays now through APRIL 5 at Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, in Boston’s South End.

Tickets cost $30; $25 for seniors, and $18 for students (valid ID required). Sunday matinees: $25, with seniors paying $18 and students $15. “Wild Wednesday” cost $15 for all tickets. Tickets available online at www.BostonTheatreScene.com, or via phone at 617-933-8600.

The Gibson Girl – ticket information


“ROAD TRIP” HAS FUN FAMILY VALUES
by Lisa Simmons
473 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #54Ok, so it’s not going to win best picture or best actor or best anything, but this Disney Picture will entertain you and, if you like Raven Symone (who is also executive producer) and Martin Lawrence, it will keep you engaged. The “black film,” College Road Trip, is filled with gag jokes, a cute pig and a cute kid (can’t lose with that combo) and a loving relationship between a father and daughter (that doesn’t have some sick undertones).

Melanie (Raven-Symoné), a high school senior, is on the hunt for the perfect college. For her, it’s Georgetown University, almost 100 miles away, and for her father (Lawrence), it’s Northwestern University, (only 5 or so miles from home). He is overprotective (to a fault) and she just wants to grow up, finally.

When Melanie gets the opportunity to interview at Georgetown, Lawrence is beside himself at the possibility of his “little girl” going so far away that he does whatever he can to persuade her that Georgetown is not the best option. When Symone decides to join her girlfriends on a road trip to the east coast to get to her interview, Lawrence gets the police SUV (he’s the town’s chief of police) packed for “their” road trip leaving Symone no other choice but to ride with dad, and off they go.

Lighthearted, silly, unrealistic happenings, and over the top acting by Donnie Osmond (which was pretty funny by the way), College Road Trip is a good movie you can take your entire family to. Whether you are a parent, a teenager or younger you will be able to relate to these characters regardless of how slapstick the movie is – a fun excursion!

College Road Trip website


UP-COMING EVENTS
478 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #54SPIRIT OF UGANDA presents a riveting performance of East African music and dance for audiences of all ages. Twenty-two talented and professionally trained young dancers and musicians, aged 8 to 18, are impassioned ambassadors for Uganda’s 1.7 million HIV/AIDS and war-related orphans. Sharing their rich histories, legends and culture, these children are joyous, thriving examples of what is possible when potential is recognized and realized. HUGE DISCOUNT ON FAMILY and GROUP TICKETS if you mention you are a KBAR reader when you call WORLD MUSIC for tickets at 617-876-4275.

Brandeis University Professor ANITA HILL will receive the 2008 LOUIS P. & EVELYN SMITH ‘ FIRST AMENDMENT AWARD‘ on Thursday, MARCH 20 6:30 – 8pm at Boston Public Library, Copley Sq., Rabb Lecture Hall, free and open to the public. Launched into the public sphere by her testimony in Justice Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, she used her potentially crippling experience to encourage those who have suffered from harassment and discrimination in the workplace to also “speak truth to power.” She will also share her thoughts on her life and work, moderated by Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Harvard University Law

The Resnikoff Gallery at Roxbury Community College invites the community to visit its new exhibition “From the El to the Silver Line: Photographs by Keitha L. Hassell.” The community is also invited to the artist’s reception on THURSDAY MARCH 20, from 6 – 8pm. This event is free and open to the public. The Resnikoff Gallery is located in the Media Arts Center of Roxbury Community College at 1234 Columbus Avenue.

The Kennedy Library Forums present ‘A Conversation with Boston’s new School Superintendent CAROL JOHNSON’, open and free to the public, Thursday, MARCH 20, 5:30-7:00 pm. Join Carol Johnson as she discusses the challenges facing Boston Public Schools. To register, click here.

Reggae, Poetry, Funk and Hiphop join forces this Friday, MARCH 21 at The Milky Way sprinkler system fundraiser with featured artists: The Press MC’s with DJ Iyeoka and the Black and Blues Funk Tribe and Pressure Cooker. Tickets available at the door or here. The Milky Way is located at 403 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, 21+, doors open at 9pm til 1am..

For two nights, MARCH 21 & 22, WORLD MUSIC presents ANGELIQUE KIDJO with her pulsating rhythms, captivating voice and dazzling stage presence, will transform her many musical influences into a riveting Afro-pop tour de force. While her music is steeped in the traditional and pop rhythms of her West African heritage, Kidjo crosses musical boundaries by blending tribal fon rhythms, chants and godagado drum patterns with funk, R&B, salsa, samba, rumba, makossa, jazz, zouk, house and hip-hop. An Afro-pop diva of global proportions, Angélique Kidjo won her first Grammy Award this February, for best contemporary world music album, after five past nominations. Performances are at the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, 8pm each night. Tickets are $30 and $40. For info call 617-876-4275 or on line here.

Museum of African American History presents ‘A Conversation and Book-Signing with Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint’ on their book, ‘Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors.’ Tuesday, MARCH 25 at 6pm at Walsh Theatre, 55 Temple Street, Beacon Hill. Free and open to the public, but rsvp is Required. To rsvp, call 617-725-0022 ext 25. Moderated by producer Callie Crossley, this is an opportunity to listen in on a conversation as these two men share their vision for strengthening America by addressing the issues facing the Black community as written in their book. Built around the themes of Dr. Cosby’s popular call-out sessions, in which he has challenged people in towns and cities across America to reclaim and restore their families and communities, Come On People is at times challenging as well as inspirational. Pick up your book before the event at the Museum Store located at 46 Joy Street. Books will also be available for purchase that evening.

The Roxbury Media Institute & The Haley House Bakery & Cafe invite you to ‘aRt IS LiFe iTSELF! A Performance Series: Embracing Art, Culture & Spirituality’ a Multicultural, Intergenerational, Humanistic experience at The Haley House Bakery & Cafe, 12 Dade Street, Roxbury on Washington Street, near Dudley station. Call 617-445-0900 for details on whose performing each week.

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