“NIGHT CATCHES US” ON BIG SCREEN IN BOSTON
DAVENPORT: FROM “NEIGHBORS” TO “BROKE- OLOGY”
DRUMMING, MUSIC AND ALVIN TERRY IN RUINED
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO……
BILL T. JONES’ “BODY AGAINST BODY” AT THE ICA
RICK BERRY ART AT NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
SOUTH AFRICAN ART AT B.U. PART OF TIM HAMILL SERIES
HATIAN ARTIST EXHIBITS AT THE MIDDLE EAST
Guided visit of the Museum of the NCAAA
5 PLAYWRIGHTS: LOVE LIKE THEY SEE IT AT BOSTON U.
African American filmmaker Tanya Hamilton finds a mystery in recent history with her fictional “Night Catches Us.” At the height of the Black Panther movement in Philadelphia, a policeman is shot, a Black Panther lies dead in a shoot-out with the police, and an activist leaves town under the cloud of suspicion that he fingered the Panther’s where-abouts. .
Ten years later, Marcus returns.
The Color of Film Collaborative in association with The Roxbury International Film Festival (with Future Boston Alliance and Night Life Executives) premieres the New England screening of “Night Catches Us,” directed and written by Tanya Hamilton.
The urban family drama starring Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington will screen in a commercial theater for one night only. The film event takes place Thursday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 is at The Stuart Street Playhouse, 200 Stuart St., downtown Boston theater district.
“We live in a world where we continue to combat a lot of the issues that the Black Panthers were concerned about,” filmmaker Hamilton told the KBAR in a recent phone conversation about why she believes her movie has relevance to today.
She also wanted to tell a story that contains the Panthers’ concern for “the idea of community, a movie that gives a voice to the people who are working class and working poor.” Other concerns she admires in the Panthers’ ideals was their interest in health and how to manage health issues on a community level; how to address poverty, “alleviating it and the need for it, and their belief in getting legal aid to people who can’t afford lawyers.”
In the movie, Patricia, played by Kerry Washington, moves throughout the community in her role as a lawyer for little or no recompense. She, like the Panthers with their free breakfast for children, provides neighborhood children with milk and cereal and juice at her kitchen table. (Interestingly, many of the ideas thought up by the Black Panthers later became government services, such as breakfast in schools for children below the poverty line).
“The role of women seemed largely to be as workers for the Party,” comments Hamilton, who adds that Patricia, as with the other characters, however is not a stereotype but multi-dimensional.
Another character points up an aspect of the Panthers less commented on, “as men to look up to by young people who were fatherless,” she said. This aspect is revealed in the character of Jimmy, played by Amari Cheatom. Other principals in the drama are Jamie Hector as DoRight and Wendell Pierce as Detective Gordon.
Filmmaker Hamilton says she “finds their world fascinating. There’s a great humanity in it and it is an under-told story which has been misrepresented as one-dimensional.”
She also finds fascinating in the Black Panthers story, “the idea of being at war yet in your own neighborhood and your own country.”
Hamilton, 42, was born in Spanish Town, which is about 20 minutes outside of Kingston, Jamaica. Her mom brought her and her brother here in the 70ties where they settled in Silver Springs, Maryland. She attend Cooper Union and went on to graduate school at Columbia where she majored in painting (the design of her scenes in “Night Catches Us” reflects her original passion).
Two of Hamilton’s films have been shown at the Roxbury Film Festival, but Color of Film Collaborative’s founder and artistic director Lisa Simmons says that by July of this year “Night Catches Us” will already be out on DVD (as part of Magnolia Pictures distribution). “We wanted to give people the opportunity to see the film on a big screen, as well as, create a buzz for the festival coming this summer.”
By Kay Bourne
Johnny Lee Davenport has scored a trifecta!
Last month he earned raves for his role as a bereaved dad in “Vengeance Is the Lord’s” at The Huntington Theater Company. Currently he’s an adjunct professor and beleaguered dad who looks out his window to see that the neighbors who’ve just moved in constitute his worst nightmare in Company One’s production of the controversial “Neighbors” (a debut script from Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, 26). And even before that run concludes Feb. 5, the Boston-based Equity actor starts rehearsals at the Lyric Stage for “Broke-ology” about a family at a crossroads.
Says Davenport about the hat trick, “I am really grateful.”
When the KBAR began our conversation with Davenport he was on the bus in a snow storm traveling to New York for an audition, this time hoping to land a spot with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Company. He dreams of being in every one of the Bard’s plays, having chalked up 26 to date. The Equity try-out is for “The Comedy of Errors,” one of the plays he’s missing in his quest. At this point his phone – or mine – stops transmitting.
The next day Davenport is back in Boston, having not even been seen by the casting director. “Too many actors turned out,” he said. Acting is a highly competitive occupation. “I never thought I would work in my chosen field,” confides Davenport, who, born in Shreveport, Louisiana, grew up in the Jim Crow South.
Not many years back there was a dearth of roles for actors of color but opportunities have multiplied thanks to emerging black playwrights, area black theaters, more experienced African American directors, and theater companies interested in diversity. Davenport sees himself as a Boston-based actor. He likes the city’s “history of audacity” such as the Boston Tea Party and its environment that “fosters African American theater companies.”
He says of the third play in this trilogy of roles that he is pleased to have been asked by the Lyric’s artistic director Spiro Veloudos to work at his company. “He saw me in one of the Shakespeare plays I did with Actors Shakespeare Project. Afterwards, he told me that he needed to find a vehicle for me.
“Recently he phoned me with the news he had this play “Break-ology” he’d like to stage but he wouldn’t do it without me. It was all very flattering.”
The play will be directed by Benny Sato Ambush, a professor at Emerson College in the theater department formerly with American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and George Bass’s Rites and Reason black-oriented theater on the campus of Brown University. “Broke-ology” was written by emerging playwright Nathan Louis Jackson, 32, a Kansas City denizen who saw his family drama featuring a father with MS like his own father staged at Lincoln Center. Break-ology opens March 25, running through April 23. Neighbors is now playing, through Februay 5th at the Boston Center for the Arts. By Kay Bourne
In a Congelese bar and bordello, the women raped and brutalized by soldiers – and because of their condition now ostracized by their families – play host to men out for an evening, among them the very men who terrorized them.
Lynn Nottage’s 2009 Pulitzer Prize for drama, Ruined, currently at the Huntington Theater Company stage through Feb. 6, gives voice to these casualties of a civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has raged for decades, while suggesting the reasons behind the horror.
As the drummer ensconced on stage throughout the play, Alvin Terry observes the goings-on, while playing the rhythms that back the dancing and singing. “I love playing music,” he said in a recent interview with the KBAR. “I feel it’s something I’m supposed to be doing.” Terry, who is married to sculptor Fern Cunningham, has performed with such artists as Archie Shepp, Avery Sharpe, Ricky ford, John Faddis, Leonard Brown, and Bill Lowe.
For “Ruined,” the playwright herself wrote several songs to be performed by the girls in Mama Nadi’s bar accompanied by a two-person band of guitar and drums.
As well, composer/arranger Aaron Meicht provided music for the Huntington production to be performed by the electric guitar and a makeshift percussion set designed in collaboration with Meicht and Terry. Meicht notes that the biggest difference in the music from production to production is the percussion because of how much freedom he encourages the drummer to have while building his drum set. Terry has included a Makuta drum (a traditional instrument from Central Africa a bass drum made from a rubber trash can, various cymbals, and a few shakers.
“Ruined” is Terry’s second theatrical venture. Last season he performed in the Company One production of “The Emancipation of Many and Miz Ellie” by Lois Roach, which was directed by Victoria Marsh at the Boston Center for the Arts. The drama took place at the end of the Civil War in the plantation South.
“Our heritage is our culture. The way we speak. The way we walk. Our accomplishments. Our talents that we have. It’s all a little bit different from other people because of what we endured. Our people who made something out of nothing. They believed that God would come and save them. That’s how they endured,” he said.
Terry is pleased with the compositions and arrangements provided by Meicht which Terry says is in the tradition of Central Africa. And he can see the influence too of African American music on the Congolese music performed in Mam Nadi’s bar. “There’s a part where the soldiers are dancing to the music we’re playing. It’s a steady beat, almost like disco but very layered, as layered as an onion.”
He is disturbed by the rapes that are the background story to the goings on in the bar. “It is very difficult for me to watch it,” he says of the parts of the play that reference that violence to women. “I’m hurt by it.”
“I don’t like the mighty trampling over the weak,” he says of the soldiers’ behavior generally.
He says of the play overall and his role in it, “you laugh, you cry. We move you every minute. One minute you are happy, the next you are plunged into one horror or another. And the music carries you.”
In the final analysis, says Terry, “it’s like the blues. You feel better because you got it out. ‘Ruined’ is really a great play.”
By Kay Bourne
Where Are They Now?
The interview with poet Michael Bonds currently of Atlanta launches a series of conversations KBAR will run with artists who were active in Boston but now ply their art in other places.
1. How did Boston inspire you as an artist?
I grew up in Boston and on those serious and animated streets of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan. As with many “urban communities” it wasn’t difficult to find inspiration in all the “nouns” that make up the grammar of my city. All I had to do was come up different “adjectives” to describe Boston. As New York has approximately “8 million stories”, so too does Boston have a number of its own stories to tell. Just how many, I don’t know. But I can honestly say that I starred in, witnessed and maybe even authored in some of the sentences, paragraphs and chapters that make up the biography of my city. I love Boston.
2. What is your happiest memory regarding a) living and b) creating in Boston?
My happiest memories of Boston are the wonderful experiences I had living amongst the diverse cultures that live in such a intimate environment. The communal aspect I discovered after my brush with the darker side of life in Boston gave me a healthy respect for the important things like freedom of speech, religion and culture. In my opinion, Boston is a microcosm of America. With its people, attitudes, injustices and history it wasn’t difficult to find my niche and create my own space in Boston from which I could launch myself and my ideas.
3. What supports for your art did you find in Boston?
My arts found support mainly from the community. However, being an art activist I was supported by the politics of the city and the social justice affiliates and nonprofit sector.
4. What drew you to where you now create?
As an artist there comes a time when you must grow and living in Atlanta allows me the opportunity to explore my art and discover my potential. I’m sure I will probably out grow this place as well.
5. How has your new location affected your art?
Atlanta has opened doors and made me one of many again. In Boston I was Warrior and known by many so it wasn’t difficult to find approval. Here I am hungry again and building a new network.
6. Do you think of yourself as a Bostonian or otherwise?
Of course I am a Bostonian. I will always be a Bostonian from Roxbury. As Ed OG of Ed OG & the Bulldogs said it: “I’m from the Bury the Bury but not the fruit y’all . . .
7. What sort of a life have you made for yourself where you now are?
I am graduating from Bauder College with a degree in Criminal Justice in May of 2011. I have a new grandchild. YES a “Grandchild” and I am developing a youth program designed after the many wonderful and effective programs I worked with in Boston.
The Warrior is an internationally respected poet, author, spoken word artist and people mover (motivator) from Boston’s Roxbury community a member of the “Blackout Arts Collective,” he won Boston’s “Best Spoken Word Album” Award in 2008 at the “New England Urban Music Awards.” Published in various anthologies, he is the author of “”Gunz, Poems & Rosez, the Experience Strength and Hope of Michael Warrior Bonds”
He has performed with Dead Prez, Saul Williams, (Harvard University),Chico Debarge, (Hartford CT.) and Hip Hop legends Kurtis Blow and Whoodini (Rissell Auditorium, Boston) just to name a few.
He has 5 albums, I paperback and 2 chapbooks and 2 DVD’s to his credit. He “Has Poems Will Travel” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
(pictured: Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company)
The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) presents the WORLD PREMIERE of “Body Against Body ” by the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.
One of the most innovative voices in contemporary dance and theater, Bill T. Jones returns to the ICA fresh off the Kennedy Center Honors and a Tony Award for Best Choreography for the Broadway musical FELA!. With Body Against Body, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company returns to Jones’s roots in the avant-garde with a program that revives and reconsiders the groundbreaking works that launched Jones and his late partner and collaborator of 17 years, Arnie Zane, on the downtown New York dance scene of the 1980s.
Performances take place Feb. 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $45 reserved, $40 for members and students, and can be purchased at www.icaboston.org or by calling (617) 478-3103.
Rick Berry – Seeing in the Dark
Gallery 360, Northeastern University through March 1, 2011 Seeing in the Dark, art by Rick Berry, continues through March 1 at Gallery 360, Northeastern University. Massachusetts based artist Rick Berry, is internationally recognized for his unique and powerful “expressionist figurative” works. Executed without models, photography or preliminary drawing, his process is one of discovery in the medium. Berry’s paintings blend mythic and visionary themes with a strong social vision. The human body is the lyrical evocation of anything from emotional narratives to evolutionary conjectures. Self taught, Berry began his art career in underground comics as a teen. He has produced hundreds of covers for books and comics, and worked in film before transitioning to creating gallery art. His work is exhibited nationally and in Europe, and can also be found in private collections throughout the world.
(pictured: Tim and Bobbi Hamill)
The Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Visual Arts and the Boston University Art Gallery will exhibit 170 works by South African artists in two major exhibitions celebrating The Caversham Press.
Running February 8 through March 27 at the 808 Gallery and BUAG at the Stone Gallery, the exhibitions speak to Caversham’s history as it reflects artists’ responses to the dramatic political and cultural shifts that have occurred in South Africa over the past two and half decades.
Opening receptions for South Africa: Artists, Prints, Community / Twenty Five Years at The Caversham Press (808 Gallery) and Three Artists at the Caversham Press – Deborah Bell, Robert Hodgins and William Kentridge (BUAG at the Stone Gallery) will be held on Wednesday, February 9, 6-8pm. William Kentridge will also be this year’s featured artist in the seventh annual Tim Hamill Visiting Artist Lecture, held Monday, February 28 at 6:30pm in Morse Auditorium. All exhibitions and related events are free and open to the public.
Open invitation to see new paintings by Haitian artist Lanise Antoine Shelley (actress studying at A.R.T., Harvard University).
Water: Skin dark” Showing at The Middle EastRestaurant, 472/480 Mass Ave. in Central Square. Feb. 6th through 28th, 2011.Artist reception held Sunday Feb. 6th at 5pm to 7pm Please come and enjoy FREE food, dancing, poetry, music and art.
Acrylics portraits fused with text and Haitian folklore. “Water:Skin Dark” is the coming of age of a young girl’s journey from an orphanage in Haiti to the classrooms of Harvard University. A portion the proceeds to aid the US Foundation for the Children of Haiti, in Port Au Prince. For more info: Luniseantoine@gmail.com
The National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA) fosters and presents the finest in contemporary, visual and performing arts from the global Black world. The museum presents a wide range of historical and contemporary exhibitions in many media, including painting, sculpture, graphics, photography and decorative arts. Tour the museum with Director E. Barry Gaither, hear of the building’s history and of the current exhibitions.
Saturday, January 29, 1pm-3pm
Meet at the Museum of the NCAAA, 300 Walnut Ave, at 12:50pm.
$5. Purchase an RSVP online or by calling 617-417-1006.
(pictured: Cliff Odle)
Roxbury resident Lyralen Kaye, SAG/AFTRA is Producing Artistic Director for an upcoming production of Points of View: 5 Playwrights Tell Love Like They See It.
Among the plays is Our Girl in Trenton which tells the story of the campaign for the first African-American governor of New Jersey in which the staff struggle with romantic and sexual ethics on the job.
Known for the sold out production SLAMBoston, Diverse Voices in Theatre, Another Country brings a new multi-cultural and diverse one act festival to the Boston Playwrights Theatre, this one focused on the absurdity and drama of love in all the wrong (and right) places.”Of course the festival focuses on multiculturalism and diversity,” says Kaye, “That’s what we do. It’s exciting now to take audiences into the worlds of intimacy and romance, where characters struggle just as much with right and wrong as they do in our more political plays.”