Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #71

Contents

AATF BEGINS WITH ‘MOTHER G”

SUDANESE MUSICIAN VISITS AMAARP

NEC JAZZ PROGRAM TURNS 40

MARSHALL MIXES MEMORIES WITH HISTORY

SHAKESPEARE COMES TO HIBERNIAN HALL

UP-COMING EVENTS


AATF BEGINS WITH ‘MOTHER G”

by Kay Bourne

(L to R: Garry Bates, Lakeisha Gilliard, David J. Curtis (back) Marvelyn McFarlane (front) Linda Starks-Walker, Alphonzo Moultrie (U/S) Latonya Gregg.)

7741e0e483d1289a7656454971e2e189.124.85 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #71If you’ve been wondering what’s happening with black theater in Boston, then race to the spirited and foot tapping “MOTHER G,” which gets the 9th ANNUAL AFRICAN AMERICAN THEATER FESTIVAL off to a rousing start.

ROBERT JOHNSON, JR.’s play, written as a tribute to his mother, honors a deeply religious woman who despite her respect for the authority of her church’s leaders confronts a perfidious minister.

“Mother G” continues through JUNE 5 for a total of eight performances in the BCA Plaza Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street in the South End.

The festival continues on with LILLIAN HELLMAN’s “THE CHILDREN’s HOUR,” followed by two plays by JACQUI PARKER whose company OUR PLACE THEATRE stages the AATF, which takes the festival to JUNE 13.

Johnson’s well received historical drama “PATIENCE OF NANTUCKET,” set in the 1800′s staged by Up You Mighty Race Theater Company last season also dealt with a woman who stood by her personal convictions under great stress. This time, however, the story is loosely derived from the playwright at 15 seeing his mom, DOROTHIS LOUISE GUYTON, take a stand against a corrupt preacher.

With the deft and insightful direction of Jacqui Parker combined with Johnson’s first hand remembrances, “Mother G” offers a realistic portrait of a small Black urban church in turmoil even as its members hold fast to their deeply held faith.

“Mother G” is also energized by a prodigious use of gospel music which amplifies the playwright’s message at every turn yet never feels artificial, as it might were this production a Broadway-style musical. The singing is stirring, throughout. The musical direction by recording artist CHAUNCY McGLATHERY, who plays an upright piano in the show, will make you want to be in a pew at any church where he might direct music every Sunday. He is accompanied with fine drumming from DOMINGO “Mingo” GUYTON (who is a grandson of the real Mother G.).

The memorable cast is an interesting mix of experienced actors working side-by-side with individuals who might well have been plucked from local church choirs but under Parker’s strong directorial hand carry off their acting roles well. There is a feeling of genuineness that benefits the production.

Reminiscent of Paul Robson as the maniacal preacher who preys on young women in the film “Body And Soul,” JAMES CROSS portrays the diabolical Reverend James Mercy with great flair, from delivering electrifying sermons to his belittling any parishioner who goes up against him.

He’s met his match with the stalwart Mother G., however, the Queen Mother of the church who is performed by LATONYA GREGG with strength and humor. Another resolute lady of the church is Sister Jackson played with verve by LINDA STARKS-WALKER. Her powerful voice and delicate sense of caricature, especially in her several gospel renditions helps speed the story along in just the right way.

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