Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #76

October 8th, 2009  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report

Contents
LEON CONTINUES WILSON’s WORK
THE DRAMA OF EVERYDAY LIFE IN “FENCES”
DREW APPEAL
ROXBURY REPERTORY THEATER WORKS A MIRACLE
2009 NEWBERY HONORS
A NEW URBAN THEATER DEBUTS
HALEY HOUSE DINNER & A MOVIE GOES RAW
CALYPSO & COMEDY AT THE STRAND
NY’s IRISH REP PRESENTS EMPOROR JONES
DA GOODIE MONSTA COMES TO BOSTON
UP-COMING EVENTS & COMMUNITY INFORMATION


LEON CONTINUES WILSON’s WORK
by Kay Bourne
647 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #76When there’s a day or two break between rehearsals, KENNY LEON hops on a fast plane to Georgia. “Everything I do overlaps,” says the exceptionally busy Leon, currently directing August Wilson’s “FENCES” for the Huntington Theatre Company.

Leon’s career is a balancing act. Passion drives him. In addition to directing the intense drama about a father who is a tyrant in his son’s eyes, Leon’s running his own theater in Atlanta, True Colors, as its founding artistic director, and keeping his hand in acting, too. He recently revisited the role of Zachariah, which he first played in 1998, in Athol Fugard‘s “Blood Knot.”

True Colors upcoming show is Phillip Hayes Dean‘s “Sty of the Blind Pig,” written in 1971. “One of the mission’s of True Colors is to introduce plays to a new generation. I find that very rewarding,” says Leon.

“We’re only going to be on this planet for a few years. I want to squeeze in as much as I can.”

The Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning “Fences” was the second of Wilson’s plays to go to Broadway (following “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”). Staged prior to the regional theater try-out system Wilson and his director Lloyd Richards established which brought all the rest of Wilson’s decade-by-decade saga of African American life in the 20th century to the Huntington before heading to New York, “Fences” will be the debut of this play at the theater Wilson considered his Boston artistic home.

The Huntington Theatre Company opened its 28th season – a season of American stories – with “Fences,” chronologically speaking the sixth chapter to his ten-play cycle. Kenny Leon, who was Wilson’s hand picked final collaborator before his death, helms the production. “Fences” stars JOHN BEASLEY, in a debut at the Huntington, as the father who refuses to support his son’s ambitions. “Fences” continues at the Huntington through OCTOBER 11. Tickets for KBAR readers range from best seats $39 to $20. Just enter or mention the discount code “STORIES” when ordering tickets by phone or online.

Leon himself returns to the Huntington for the sixth time with “Fences,” having first directed at the Equity company based at 264 Huntington Ave. with “From the Mississippi Delta” in 1993.

In “Fences,” Troy Maxson, a former Negro Leagues star who peaked too soon for baseball’s integration and so because of racism could never move into the majors, now works as a garbage collector. In 1957 Pittsburgh (before the Civil Rights Movement really got rolling), he’s also meeting racial barriers in his city job which keeps Blacks lifting the garbage pails while Whites drive the trucks.

His son, Cory, an emerging high school football star has an offer from a White scout for a college football scholarship but Maxson, who can’t believe Whites would make good on that offer, insists that Cory quit the team and work after school in the supermarket instead. He sees his father as tyrannical and wrong headed. Meanwhile Troy’s wife Rose also has her dreams that aren’t being met, his older son, Lyons, a jazz musician, strives for the father’s respect for his talent on the horn, and his brother, Gabriel, a brain damaged war vet, offers Troy yet another perspective on the world.

Leon has directed “Fences” four times previously, but while revisiting a play can be boring to a director, he says far from being exhausted by it, “it feels like a new play every time. I’m always making new discoveries.”

Leon’s distinguished theater history includes his unprecedented 11-year tenure as artistic director of the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. He’s directed extensively around the country at regional theaters and reached an increased level of national recognition when he directed the 2004 Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin In The Sun” (originally directed by Lloyd Richards), which featured Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Sanaa Latham, Audra McDonald and Phylicia Rashad.

The Tony-winning production registered the highest-grossing weekly box office sales for a drama in Broadway history and was later reworked as an ABC TV special (directed by Leon) which brought his talent before an audience of thousands and thousands more.

A significant part of that draw was the casting of Combs, whose reputation as a rapper and rap record executive brought a new and youthful audience to Broadway. The notion of casting Combs, who had never acted in a play, much less performed on a Broadway stage, was Roxbury born Susan Batson‘s. The acting coach brought Combs to Leon. She remained active in advising the novice through the rehearsal period and even when the show was up and running. Batson, the daughter of Boston Civil Rights activist Ruth Batson, has a stellar reputation as a coach with Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez and Chris Rock among those actors who rely on her tutoring.

Asked how a director works with a coach so intimately involved as Batson was with Combs’s performance, he replied, “it’s different every time. With Susan it was great.”

When she brought Combs to Leon, he found that “he had all this great instruction but he was raw. We’d rehearse eight hours a day, then I’d work with him two more hours and then she’d work with him alone another two. You iron out a process with a coach so that you don’t get in each other’s way.”

He had additional input. Leon notes that Ossie Davis, shortly before his death in 2005, with wife Ruby Dee, both of whom had been in the original cast, attended rehearsal every night, and every night they gave me notes.”

Before Combs signed on the dotted line to do the show, he met with Sidney Poitier, who had played Walter Lee Younger, Jr. originally, a part that made Poitier a star. Combs wanted Poitier’s blessing to do the role at all and to hear his advice in portraying the frustrated chauffeur who wanted more out of life.

Likewise, when in 1990 Leon took over Atlanta’s Alliance Theater, the largest regional theater in the Southeast, he said, “there were only a couple of Black people running theater operations this large.” One of them was Lloyd Richards, at that point the dean of Yale University School of Drama where he’d officiated since 1979.

“The first thing I did was get on a train and sat in a rehearsal hall with Lloyd to get his advice on how to run a theater Alliance’s size. I would revisit him a couple of times a year for such advice,” says Leon.

“And with directing ‘Raisin,’ as Diddy had talked with Sidney, I went to talk with Lloyd. I didn’t want to do anything harmful to their accomplishment. I just wanted to direct the show in a way that was fresh for a new generation,” he said.

Richards was invited to opening night, but did not attend. “He sent me a telegram saying ‘I’m your biggest fan. But I can’t come.’ He wanted to keep the show in his mind the way he remembered it but he wanted me to succeed.”

“August and Lloyd are people I’ll always be grateful to and respect, and feel a responsibility to continue their work.”

FENCES ticket information


THE DRAMA OF EVERYDAY LIFE IN “FENCES”
by Joseph Crowley © 2009
648 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #76In 1957, Dr. Martin Luther King said about the emerging Civil Rights Movement: “If physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent life of psychological death, then nothing can be more Christian.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson famously wrote his 10-play cycle – each set in a different decade of the 20th century. In doing so, Wilson left behind a unique look at The Black Experience that has never been equaled. The playwright focused on drama – the ordinary, every day lives of his characters – rather than historical events. In doing so, Wilson created a world we are drawn into through his strong writing. We are never distracted by newsworthy figures. Rather, we see his world – the world of the Black men and women – through the eyes of the common working class men and women. Ironically, there may be more “truth” in his fictitious characters than in many documented history books.

Wilson’s strongest assets – his realistic dialogue; his ability to create a world with tension; his ability to have us on the edge of our seats (in a Wilson play, violence is always a real possibility; death is right around every corner) – become something more. His strong characterizations command our full attention. The words of his working class characters becomes a sort of poetry. And he has us hooked, as to a good mystery one can’t out down.

FENCES is one of Wilson’s most accomplished achievements. It is, like all of Wilson’s work, about family. And the tensions, events, and details that are both ordinary and life changing. It is about how secrets can kill a soul and end a marriage.

JOHN BEASLEY (in a strong performance) plays Troy, a working class guy who had risen from a criminal past to achieve the goals of the working class of the 1950′s era – to own a home, provide for his family and get blasted every Friday night. Troy has been on the straight and narrow for the entirety of his nearly 20-year marriage. Or has he? His loving wife, Rose (a magnificent turn by CRYSTAL FOX), is his caretaker, nurturer and rock. His younger son, Cory, wants out of his father’s world – wishes for something more than a working class life.

The tension that arises – between father and son; between a truly loving marriage and the lie that may terminate it – is beautifully directed by KENNY LEON in this Huntington Theater production, which must not be missed.

Dr. King talks of physical death – a very real fear in 1950′s America for the Black man. FENCES challenges the audience: what about a spiritual death? Can that, too, kill those we love? Do not miss FENCES!

website of FENCES at The Huntington Theatre


DREW APPEAL
by Joseph Crowley © 2009
649 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #76

Steven Speilberg’s 1982 “ET” made 7-year-old DREW both a star and an icon. America fell in love and has continued this affair with the youngest of the great theater and film Barrymore dynasty for more than a quarter of a century now.

And what a ride it’s been! We’ve followed her through two rehabs for alcohol and drug abuse; a stay in a psych ward; a suicide attempt and her memoirs – all by the time she was 16!

Since then, there have been two short-lived marriages (including to comic actor Tom Green). Not to mention her varied career. Unlike a lot of child stars, Drew Barrymore has managed to continue a successful career long after adolescence faded. Recently, Barrymore was in Boston to promote “WHIP IT”!, a delightful comedy which marks her directorial debut.

Labeled box-office poison after becoming a tabloid staple, Drew made her comeback at age 17, with the unexpected box-office hit “POISON IVY”. After a few more years of B movies and forays into television (including playing Amy Fisher in a tv-movie) and the occasional bit role in a blockbuster such as “BATMAN FOREVER,” After proving her talent in the AIDS comedy-drama, “BOYS ON THE SIDE,” Drew became big box office with a series of romantic comedies (“NEVER BEEN KISSED”, “THE WEDDING SINGER” and the Boston-made “FEVER PITCH,” shot during the Red Sox’s victory year, 2004).

Though Barrymore is a well-established movie star, some people don’t realize that she’s also a topflight producer – including the cult film, “DONNIE DARKO” (“I read that script and said: ‘This film needs to be made!’ believe strongly in nurturing talent.”) and the two “CHARLIE’S ANGELS” films, which were box-office gold. With her Emmy-nominated turn in the recent HBO film, “GREY GARDENS” and now “WHIP IT!”, Barrymore proves what a major (often underrated) talent she really is. At a recent interview at KING’S, Drew Barrymore – who has the reputation of being one of the nicest people in the business – proved to be very savvy about the film business as she discussed her influences, work ethics and her personal life (or lack thereof).

Says Barrymore, “With “WHIP IT!”, which is about a teenaged girl who discovers her personal strengths when she joins a roller derby team, I came across the novel and said:’This is it!’ I always knew I’d be directing; it was a natural progression of my life. I grew up on soundstages and I love, love, love films!

John Hughes spoke to a whole generation of kids without condescending to them. I wanted to make “WHIP IT!” in a similar style. I love to see girls do what boys do without being bashed for being ‘ masculine’ or labeled negatively. I didn’t want to make a dark, ‘masculine’ film. I wanted to make a fun film that shows a girl come into her own while doing what people think of as doing the impossible.”

Barrymore got her cast into a 4-week “boot camp” before shooting began. “We bonded, we learned to trust each other – which was important because each of us got (physically) hurt during the course of filming. One night, when I took the cast out drinking, I came up with the idea of a Girls’ Fight Club. We bonded and that shows on film.”

ELLEN PAGE (Oscar-nominated for JUNO) has the lead in “WHIP IT!” She is supported by a veteran cast (MARCIA GAY HARDEN, JULIETTE LEWIS and her “FEVER PITCH” leading man, JIMMY FALLON). “I had a cast in mind for this project. The film business is a small community and I asked around. People talk. I’m glad to say I got every one I wanted and each of my actors deserve their positive reputations inside the business. Each went out of their way and gave 100%.”

Drew Barrymore reminded us she “has acted for more than 30 years and I’ve been producing for ten years. I work ALL THE TIME!” Laughing, she said,” I don’t have much of a personal life. What can I say? It works for me.”

And it will work for the discerning filmgoer! “WHIP IT!”, Barrymore shows yet another aspect of her talents. It is a hilarious, smart, entertaining film . And the love affair with Barrymore will continue for the foreseeable future.

Official website of WHIP IT!


ROXBURY REPERTORY THEATER WORKS A MIRACLE
by Kay Bourne
650 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #76

A free performance of ROXBURY REPERTORY THEATER’s excellent production directed by MARSHAL HUGHES “THE MIRACLE WORKER” is slated for a 2pm matinee Sunday., OCTOBER 11 at the CHARLES MOSESIAN THEATER, 321 Arsenal Street in Watertown. Visit the website below for more information on the performance and 12:30pm workshop.

An unusual element added in to the performance of this classic drama is the casting of children from Perkins School for the Blind. The show is cooperatively produced by Watertown Children’s Theater with RRT and has the original sets from MIRTA TOCCI inspired by Helen Keller’s childhood home now a national historical site.

William Gibson‘s enduring drama, “The Miracle Worker,” is based on the early life of a deaf, mute, and blind child when she first meets with the teacher who awakens her intellectually. Written originally for TV, then redone for the theater, the now classic story based on Helen Keller’s autobiography is a stage production from the Roxbury Repertory Theater so gripping that the inner-city teenagers who made up most of the audience at a matinee, when it was originally staged at Roxbury Community College, whistled and cheered at the curtain call to express their enthusiasm.

Watertown Children’s Theater website


2009 NEWBERY HONORS
(pictured: Jacqueline Woodson)
651 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #76The prestigious Newbery Medal and Honor Books for this year go to books that vary from the supernatural to the historical and the all-too-real. (Awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children to the author of the most distinguished contribution to children’s American literature.)

The medal winner is Neil Gaiman’s “THE GRAVEYARD BOOK,” an allegory for readers 10 years and up in which a toddler finds a second family in the tombstone denizens.

Among the honor books is a tall tale about a wild bus ride, “SAVVY” by Ingrid Law.

Cuban-American author Margarita Engle‘s “THE SURRENDER TREE: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom” is an historical novel in free verse, probably more suited to teen readers. The central character is Cuba’s legendary healer Rosa La Bayamesa, who struggles to save the injured in Cuba’s three battles to free itself from Spain.

This year’s Newbery Honor Book Award also goes to noted author Jacqueline Woodson, a writer with numerous titles to her credit (she says that she never gets writer’s block!). “AFTER TUPAC AND D FOSTER” looks back on the lives of two 11-year-olds in a New York neighborhood when a new girl joins their game of double dutch.

Newbery Medal and Honor Book Awards website


A NEW URBAN THEATER DEBUTS
by Kay Bourne
652 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #76

Popular actor/director/choreographer JACKIE DAVIS can now add producer/artistic director to her theatrical resume.

She launches her own company, THE NEW URBAN THEATER LABORATORY (NUTlab), with a performance Monday, OCTOBER 19 at the Boston Playwrights Theater, 949 Commonwealth Avenue. The 7pm curtain goes up on a showcase featuring Cliff Odle‘s original “RUNNING THE BULLS and Bernice Sim‘s frightening “SREY NEANG,” a one-woman piece about Asian child slavery.

Also on the program is a young author PAMELA RAMERIZ, whom Davis describes as “Zane-ish,” reading from some of her tamer material, as well as, musician SETH PETERSON.

Davis describes the mission of her new project as using the power of theater to investigate the stories and voices of those who exist on the margins of society. Her debut is a ‘pay-what-you-can’ affair.

The New Urban Theater Laboratory website


HALEY HOUSE DINNER & A MOVIE GOES RAW
655 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #76On Friday, OCTOBER 23, The Haley House Bakery Café in Roxbury’s Dudley Square partners with The Color of Film Collaborative, Inc. to host the latest installment in their perennial “Dinner & A Movie” series, featuring the film “SIMPLY RAW: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days”, plus a “raw food” feast prepared by Zakiya Alake. The doors open at 5:30pm, with dinner and dessert served from 6 – 7pm; the movie will begin at 7pm.

“Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days” is a fascinating, independent film by MORGAN SPURLOCK (known for his “Super Size Me” documentary) that follows the journeys of six Type I and II diabetics for thirty days as they take the ‘raw challenge’ to reverse their disease naturally by eating only organic, vegan, “raw foods,” despite the American Medical Association’s claim that “Diabetes is a chronic disease that has no cure.” Set at The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Arizona founded by Gabriel Cousens, M.D., the film follows the participants as they are dared to give up their traditional, American diets consisting of meat, dairy, sugar, processed foods, and cooked foods, as well alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine, while they continue to reduce their dosages of insulin and prescription medications. The results are astounding.

Boston’s own Zakiya Alake of Abundance Vegan Catering Service (whose vegan burgers were the hit at the August 2009 “Dinner & A Movie” summer barbeque during the Roxbury Film Festival) is back to wow the crowd once again with her menu of:

  • ~ Raw Veggie Wrap & Vegan Maki Rolls
  • ~ Huge Dinner Salad of Portobello & Squash Cervich ~ ‘cooked’ in a lime juice-ginger & salt bath overnight; served on a riot of lettuce, cabbage, carrots and bell peppers. Vinaigrette of EVO, lime and mango puree; accompanied by a healthy scoop of raw-style seasoned brown rice.
  • ~ Dessert of seasonal fruit slices with raw cream made from cashews or almonds.

Nina LaNegra of The Roxbury Media Institute will lead a lively discussion immediately following the film.

This event also marks the launch of Haley House Bakery Café’s Friday Vegan Dinners, which Zakiya will be preparing on a weekly basis.

Tickets for this Dinner & A Movie are $20, which includes food and the film, available here. DINNER & A MOVIE ticket info


CALYPSO & COMEDY AT THE STRAND
654 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #76Friday, OCTOBER 16 8pm sharp, Everybody’s Magazine presents an OCTOBER SPECTACULAR featuring OLIVER SAMUELS plus The MIGHTY SHADOW. Get ready for a night of Caribbean Comedy, Calypso, Soca and more to entertain the family!

Enjoy the hilarious antics of Jamaica’s Oliver Samuels, known as ‘The King of Caribbean Comedy’ and dance to the undisputed master of calypso, Trinidad & Tobago’s Mighty Shadow, backed by a live NY band, returning to Boston after 5+ years, with hits like: Stranger, Scratch Me Back, Swing De Ting; I Love Music; Bassman, Dingolay, You Looking for Horn and more!!!

Special guests include AUDREY REID (star of the movie “Dancehall Queen”) and Grenada’s soca artist SUPER P.

Tickets available now for $40 at:

  • Ali’s Roti 617-298-9850
  • Irie Restaurant 617-929-3886
  • Taurus Records 617-298-2655
  • Ms. Roslyn 617-524-6546
  • Pam Spencer 617-265-4780
  • Kay’s Hair Salon 617-436-9329
  • Country Kitchen 617- 822-0500
  • Hip Zepi 617-350-6870, Downtown Boston
  • Jamaica’s Flavor 781-477-9517, Lynn

and at The Strand Box Office the night of the show for $45 adults and $20 for children under 13. For more information call 617-282-1234. Everybody’s Caribbean Magazine website


NY’s IRISH REP PRESENTS EMPOROR JONES
656 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #76EUGENE O’NEILL‘s brilliant groundbreaking play, THE EMPOROR JONES is the story of Brutus Jones, an African-American man who sets himself up as monarch of a Caribbean island following a prison break in the Unites States.

When the batives rebel after years of exploitation, Jones’s mesmerizing journey into darkness becomes a terrifying psychological portrayal of power, fear, and madness. With his demons in heavy pursuit and tom-toms beating, the Emperor is forced to confront the mortal sins of his past in search of forgiveness and salvation.

JOHN DOUGLAS THOMPSON, an OBIE and Lucille Lortel Award-winning actor (who has performed a great deal locally, mostly at Cambridge’s American Repertory Theater) for last season’s acclaimed revival of Othello, portrays the enigmatic emperor, opposite Helen Hayes Award-winning actor RICK FOUCHEUX as Smithers.

Limited Engagement October 7 – November 29 Only! at 132 W. 22nd Street, New York, NY. Wednesday – Saturday at 8pm; Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday at 3pm. Call 212-727-2737 for more info and tickets. The Irish Repertory Theatre website


DA GOODIE MONSTA COMES TO BOSTON
(ROBERT PETERS reading DA GOODIE MONSTA)
658 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #76

Artist and author ROBERT PETERS invites families with children 9 -13 years old to “DA GOODIE MONSTA” reading and book signing, 12 noon, OCTOBER 31 at JAMAICAWAY BOOKS, 676 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain.

Peters is a native of Mashpee, Massachusetts where he grew up with pride in his Wampanoag heritage and culture. As a young man he became an artist and started writing poetry and prose.

Da Goodie Monsta was written when my son, Robert Jr. was only three. He woke up from a nap and told me of a dream he had about a monster. ‘Did he scare you?’ I asked.”

“‘No,’ replied Robert Jr. “He was a good monster.” He paused as if to recall the memory. ‘Da Goodie Monsta’ he said cheerfully. Robert went on to describe a creature that was part lion, part dragon, and part bird, with roller skates. Eyes wide, face serious he told me about a monster that protects you, a monster that chases nightmares away.”

“My son’s explanation is what inspired this story…I meditated on his words…I then wrote and illustrated this book.”

Robert not only wrote this story as told to him by his son, he also created its one of kind illustrations that brings Da Goodie Monsta and the urban experience to life with vivid imagery and form. His artwork is masterful itching in colorful halftones shades that express the mood and time.

Publisher, ROCHELLE O’NEAL THORPE (Wiggles Press, Cambridge, MA) knew this story was special and would bring joy and a life lesson to readers, young and old. She describes “Da Goodie Monsta” as “an urban version of “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Peters will also appear on Channel 7 Urban Update on NOVEMBER 22 with his new book, which is available at Jamaicaway Books & Gifts, The Wigglespress website and Amazon.com. Wiggles Press website


UP-COMING EVENTS & COMMUNITY INFORMATION

“NATIONAL WRITERS UNION CONFERENCE: Writers Face the Digital Age “Shall We Write for Free or Shall We Write for Pay? Writers Face the Digital Age.” at Northeastern University, OCTOBER 16 -17, presenters include TOPPER CAREW – TV Producer and Writers Guild member, RICHARD O’BRYANT of the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute, and ROBERTO MIGHTY, new media producer and director of primetime programs and documentaries. BARBARA BECKWITH, NWU-Boston Chapter co-chair Register here or for more info, contact Jason Pramas at 617-506-9515.

THE BOSTON CONSERVATORY OPERA presents perormances of the children’s classic tale “The Three Little Pigs”. This opera, based on an adaptation by John Davies with music by Mozart, will be performed Saturday, OCTOBER 17 at 12pm and 2pm at The Boston Conservatory’s Seully Hall, 8 The Fenway, 4th floor, Boston. Admission is FREE and reservations are not required. For more information call (617) 912-9240. The 45-minute show is geared toward children in grades K-6. Kirsten Z. Cairns, director of opera studies at The Boston Conservatory, directs. Brian Moll will play piano. All performers are students pursuing professional training at The Boston Conservatory.

DISCOVER ROXBURY’s HEART OF THE HUB Celebration is Thursday, OCTOBER 22, 6-9pm at Roxbury Center for the Arts at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street. The night will include live music by Jazz 206 and the Boston Arts Academy ensemble, dancing, and a silent auction featuring original art and interactive experiences. This year also marks the inauguration of the Roxbury Puddingstone Awards going to E. Barry Gaither Director, Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists; and Byron Rushing State Representative, for their advocacy and continued commitment to and development of Roxbury’s physical and cultural assets. Tickets are $50, call Derek Lumpkins at 617-427-1006 for more information.

On OCTOBER 31, join honorary host, Mayor of Cambridge, E. DENISE SIMMONS and Special Honoree Guest, VICTORIA ROWELL for SPIRITS IN THE SANTUARY HALLOWEEN GALA! to benefit the Jos̩ Mateo Ballet Theatre at The Sanctuary Theatre, 400 Harvard Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge. Reception, Cocktails & Silent Auction 7pm, Dinner 8:15pm, Dancing 9 Рmidnight. Costume or Festive attire. Contact Deana Martin at 617-276-7973 for $160 tickets (a $15 savings off the regular price).

Do you have a play but nowhere to get it staged? Columbia College in Chicago is calling for submissions of full length plays addressing the African American experience for its annual Theodore Ward prize. First prize is $2000 and a fully mounted production in the Columbia College Chicago Theater. For more info on the submission process, you can phone contest facilitator Andrea Dymond at 312-344-6340. The postmark deadline is NOVEMBER 1, 2009. The award has been given each year since Ward’s death in 1983. Ward, born in Louisiana, one of 11 children, was part of the Negro Unit of Chicago’s Federal Theater Project (WPA) where he wrote his seminal work about the Depression, “Big White Fog.” In 1949, he became the first playwright of Color to win a Guggenheim Fellowship. During the 1970s he was playwright in residence at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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The Color of Film Collaborative is a non-profit organization that supports and fosters the individuals and organizations in the creation of diverse images of people of color in film, video, theater and other media, by providing artists with opportunities to exhibit, distribute and find funding for their work, as well as provide a supportive environment where they can share and develop their ideas, their vision and their work with their peers. About Us

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