“Veils” staged reading at The East Bay Center for the Performing Arts

veils_On Saturday, January 18, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s “Bringing the Art to the Audience” program (BATA) was at The East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, with a Staged reading of “Veils,” by Tom Coash. The reading was directed by Steven Anthony Jones and our longtime company stage manager, Bert van Aalsburg was on hand to ensure things go smoothly.

Veils tells the tale of Intisar, an African-American veiled Muslim, who attends the American Egyptian University in Cairo, and her roommate, Samar, an Egyptian Muslim who embraces western fashion, preferring a Yankees baseball cap over the veil. Intisar thought she might finally fit in when she enrolled for a year abroad in Cairo, however, the Arab Spring soon explodes across the Middle-East, threatening to overwhelm the young American woman and her liberal Egyptian roommate. In the struggle to find their footing in this political storm, the young women instead find themselves on opposite sides of a bitter and dangerous cultural divide.

Tristan Cunningham (left) as Intisar and Yara Badday as Samar.

Tristan Cunningham (left) as Intisar and Yara Badday as Samar.

 

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ArtWords at MoAD

On Sunday, December 8, 2013, the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) was hurled back in time to the 1960s and 1970s, as LHT, in association with MoAD, presented
ArtWords
edited by Steven Anthony Jones & Brenda Payton Jones

Steven Anthony Jones models a dashiki made just for him in 1967.

Steven Anthony Jones models a dashiki made just for him in 1967.

There were words defining the Black Arts Movement, words calling for revolution, words extolling the beauty of black men with “outasight Afros.” It must have been the ’60s and early ’70s. ArtWords, a compilation of prose and poetry from that tumultuous and singular era, captures the energy, anger and pride of the Black Power and Black Arts movements. LHT Artistic Director Steven Anthony Jones donned his original dashiki, handmade for him in 1967, to perform the pieces that included the work of Larry Neal, Ishmael Reed, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mari Evans, Jayne Cortez, Haki Madhubuti, Sipho Sepamla, Frantz Fanon, Nikki Giovanni and Amiri Baraka. And of course, Gil Scot-Heron’s classic, “The Revolution Will not Be Televised.” ArtWords is a component of “Crosscurrents” an exhibit of ’60s and ’70s protest art at the Museum of the African Diaspora. It will be performed again Feb. 15. Don’t miss it. Dashikis and berets welcome.

–Brenda Payton Jones

ArtWords
[A Performance Piece to Accompany MoAD's Crosscurrents Exhibition]
ArtWords1
Will Be Presented a Second Time on Saturday, February 15, 2014.
(RSVP Information will be sent out in late January.)

crosscurrents-logo
MoAD’s Crosscurrents Exhibit is currently on display through April 13, 2014.
Regular admission to MoAD is only $10 for adults, and $5 for students and seniors.

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Quentin’s Elephant

By Marc Pâquette
Audience Development/Webmaster

I have received lots of wonderful feedback on my design for the 2013-2014 season brochure and the coordinated items that go with it, and I thank everyone who has commented about it. A few of you have discovered a somewhat surprising name hidden in the fine print of the brochure — the background photo is credited to our late co-founder and executive director, Quentin Easter.

Circus Photos by Quentin Easter

Until their deaths in 2010, Stanley Williams (our late co-founder and artistic director) and Quentin would always celebrate my birthday quite lavishly. Falling in the middle of the summer, my birthday provided an excuse for a big mid-summer excursion or event. Over the years, we celebrated at amusement parks, Broadway shows, and, in August 2009, the final year I spent my birthday with Stanley and Quentin, they took me to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. We had a fabulous time, and Quentin took many photos with his iPhone.

Nine months later, after Quentin passed away, Stanley gave me Quentin’s iPhone. Soon after, I realized I had all the photos from that magical night at the circus.

    

Now, Quentin was a wonderful man and the gentlest soul I’ve ever had the pleasure to spend time with. Everybody loved Quentin, and I do mean everybody. I must state, however, that photography was never his forte. Many of the images are blurred, and some so much so that they are utterly unrecognizable. One of those blurry photos resonated with me, and I kept coming back to it, thinking I could use it some day. Judging by the photos before and after it on the iPhone, it had to have been a photo of the elephants. I jokingly refer to the photo as “Quentin’s Elephant,” and have used it for the backgrounds of our season brochure, subscriber ID cards, and the parts of our Web site dealing with the 2013-2014 season.

Now that you know the story, I hope you all appreciate my design just a little bit more!

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Announcing Our 33rd Season

Our 2013-2014 Season; Your Passport to the Very Best African-American Theatre From Across the Bay Area!

Working in partnership with five Bay Area theatre companies, Artistic Director Steven Anthony Jones has assembled a season that will enable Lorraine Hansberry Theatre subscribers to attend a wide variety of shows, including an African-American classic from the American cannon, and a South African story, as well as cutting-edge contemporary works, including two world premieres. By purchasing a 3, 4, or 5-Play Passport through LHT, Patrons not only help support the work of Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, but also will enjoy significant savings over box office prices.

1. Storefront Church
By John Patrick Shanley
Directed by Joy Carlin
Featuring Carl Lumbly
God vs. Gelt.  Is it a moral failing to collect the rent?  Find out when a politically savvy Bronx borough politician faces a Pentecostal minister who’s short on faith.  Will the mortgage get paid?  If so,  at what cost?
Nov 26, 2013–January 11, 2014
San Francisco Playhouse
450 Post Street, San Francisco

2. The House That Will Not Stand
WORLD PREMIERE
By Marcus Gardley
Directed by Patricia McGregor
Featuring S. Epatha Merkerson
Berkeley Rep proudly presents the world premiere of a new play commissioned from an Oakland native:  The House that will not Stand,  by Marcus Gardley,  captures a single,  steamy day for seven women in New Orleans.  In 1836,  white men in that city often live openly with their black Creole lovers.  Yet wealth and freedom may not protect Beartrice when her man mysteriously dies… or conceal old secrets when another handsome bachelor calls on her daughters.  Directed by Patricia McGregor,  The House that will not Stand is gripping family drama — sensuous,  humorous,  uplifting,  heartbreaking — told in a rich and lyrical river of words.
Jan 31–Mar 16, 2014
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison Street, Berkeley

3. Fences
By August Wilson
Directed by Derrick Sanders
Troy Maxson,  one of the greatest characters of American theater,  has stepped up to the plate too many times in his life only to go down swinging.  Shut out of the big leagues by prejudice,  the former Negro League homerun king is now a garbage collector just trying to make a living and do right by his family.  When his youngest son shows promise on the high school football team, Troy must come to terms with his past disappointments or risk tearing his family apart.
Apr 10–May 4, 2014
Marin Theatre Company
397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley

4. The Suit
Based on The Suit by Can Themba,
Mothobi Mutloatse, and Barney Simon
Direction, Adaptation, & Music by Peter Brook, Marie Hélène Estienne, Franck Krawczyk
When a husband catches his wife in the arms of her lover,  the lover flees — but leaves his suit behind.  As her penance,  the husband makes his wife “treat the suit as an honored guest,” accompanying her wherever she goes,  the suit becomes a whimsical yet cruel reminder of her infidelity.  African melodies interweave with jazz standards to underscore this simple yet surprising tale,  set in Apartheid-era Johannesburg,  in a haunting production that integrates virtuosic musicians directly into the action.
Apr 23–May 18, 2014
American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.)
415 Geary Street, San Francisco

5. Pen/Man/Ship
WORLD PREMIERE
By Christina Anderson
Directed by Ryan Guzzo Purcell
1896:  A father and son board a ship heading for Africa on a mysterious mission with an opinionated young woman.  On the open sea,  an unexpected detour resurrects family secrets and reveals true intentions,  fundamentally changing the course of their journey and their lives forever.
May 21–Jun 15, 2014
Magic Theatre
Fort Mason Center, Bldg. D, 3rd Fl., San Francisco

SUBSCRIBER BONUS
In addition, LHT Subscribers may look forward to a special opportunity to attend the San Francisco Opera’s production of Kern and Hammerstein’s Show Boat in June.

SUBSCRIBER BENEFITS
All Subscribers enjoy free admission to the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) on dates when our “Bringing the Art to the Audience” staged readings are scheduled.

Subscriptions will be available to purchase very soon. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

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The Equal Justice Society and Lorraine Hansberry Theatre present

Everyday People:
The Unsung Heroes and Heroines
Who Powered the Civil Rights Movement

presented in association with
Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra/Organization
and Zaccho Dance Theatre

In recognition of the upcoming 50th Anniversaries of the 1963 March on Washington, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Immigration & Nationality Act of 1965, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre is pleased to be the producing partner for the Equal Justice Society’s commemorative events.

August 28, 1963The first event will be held on August 28, 2013, commemorating the seminal March on Washington, when over 250,000 Americans descended on the National Mall to demand “jobs and freedom.” Memorably, Mahalia Jackson, Marian Anderson, Bob Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary, and Odetta sang, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

Could Bayard Rustin and the other planners of the March ever have imagined that a mere 45 years would pass before Americans would elect a Black President?

PennantMuch has been said about the high profile speakers and performers who made history on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. However, in commemorating the 50th anniversary of that day, the collaborators have chosen to celebrate the men and women who filled the trenches, and whose energy fueled the movement.

Working together with Marcus Shelby and Zaccho Dance Theatre’s Johanna Haigood, our own Steven Anthony Jones, plus a bright and talented group of actors, dancers and musicians, have assembled a performance piece called Everyday People, The Unsung Heroes and Heroines Who Powered the Civil Rights Movement.

This one-time-only event is not part of LHT’s season, but as the producing partner, we wanted you, our Lorraine Hansberry Theatre family, to know about it and have the opportunity to attend.

A slideshow of rehearsal photos is available to view at LHTSF.org/beyond.html.

Note that proceeds from Everyday People will benefit the programs and operating costs of the Equal Justice Society.

Tickets:
$100, only available through the Equal Justice Society
To buy tickets online click here.
(Proceeds will benefit the Equal Justice Society and its programs.)

Venue:
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak Street, Oakland, CA 94607

6:00pm
“THE ART OF CIVIL RIGHTS”
Cocktail Reception • Silent Auction
Artists have always provided inspiration in times of trial and struggle. Singers, actors, dancers and others have created original works of art inspired by the civil rights movement. Artistic works will be on display and available for purchase.

7:30pm
PROGRAM AND PERFORMANCE
Musicians, actors and dancers from the acclaimed Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, and Zaccho Dance Theatre will debut an original theatrical event that pays homage to the unsung heroes and heroines who powered the civil rights movement

About the Equal Justice Society
Now in its 14th year, the Equal Justice Society (EJS) is a national strategy group heightening consciousness on race in the law and popular discourse. Using a three-pronged strategy of law and public policy advocacy, cross-disciplinary convenings and strategic public communications, EJS seeks to restore race equity issues to the national consciousness, build effective progressive alliances, and advance the discourse on the positive role of government. Learn more about the EJS at equaljusticesociety.org

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1 Voice! 1 Play! 1 Day!

Our third annual Juneteenth Fund Raiser was a great success!

(l to r) Peter Macon, Darryl V. Jones, David Moore, David Westley Skillman, Aldo Billingslea, Rafael Jordan, Carl Lumbly, Jeff Garrett, Michael J. Asberry, Titus Tomkins, Nick Steen, Kehinde Koyejo, Steven Anthony Jones.

(l to r) Peter Macon, Darryl V. Jones, David Moore, David Westley Skillman, Aldo Billingslea, Rafael Jordan, Carl Lumbly, Jeff Garrett, Michael J. Asberry, Titus Tomkins, Nick Steen, Kehinde Koyejo, Steven Anthony Jones.

Thanks to all who attended!

Programme Cover

Programme ListingsWe wish to thank Bill English and Susi Damilano for graciously loaning The San Francisco Playhouse to us for the evening!

The following notes appeared in the programme:

Welcome to the Third Annual Project1Voice

Lorraine Hansberry Theatre is thrilled to participate in the third Project1Voice. The program, in which African-American theatres present staged readings of the  same  play  on  the  same  day  has  grown  to  include  27  African-American  theatres across the country and one in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

I am particularly excited about this year’s choice — Charles Fuller’s remarkable A Soldier’s Play. I was privileged to be a member of the original cast when the play opened in New York in 1981, produced by the Negro Ensemble Company under the direction of the visionary Douglas Turner Ward. The play, NEC and Ward were seminal in my career in the theatre. Unfortunately this great piece of theatre literature which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982 has been largely forgotten. I sincerely hope Project1Voice’s focus will change that.

The play is a period piece, set during a time just before the integration of the armed forces. At its heart it is a murder mystery, opening with the haunting words of a dying Sgt. Vernon C. Waters; “They still hate you, no matter what you do. They still hate you.

Waters is one of the great roles for African-American male actors. His experiences with racism and his mission to almost single-handedly lift the race have twisted him into a tyrant with prejudices almost as strong as any white bigot. His character offers a rare look at the psychological damage of racial prejudice.

Additionally, the play is an uncommon opportunity to see nine African- American men on stage.

With its memorable characters, building suspense and unusual exploration of racial dynamics, A Soldier’s Play still resonates as a compelling theatrical experience.

–Steven Anthony Jones

(l to r) David Westley Skillman, Aldo Billingslea, Darryl V. Jones, Jeff Garrett, Michael J. Asberry

(l to r) Rafael Jordan, David Moore, David Westley Skillman, Aldo Billingslea

(l to r) Peter Macon, Rafael Jordan, David Moore, David Westley Skillman, Aldo Billingslea, Darryl V. Jones, Jeff Garrett, Michael J. Asberry, Titus Tomkins

(l to r) Peter Macon, Rafael Jordan, David Moore, David Westley Skillman

David Moore

Carl Lumbly

Carl Lumbly, Jeff Garrett

Carl Lumbly, Michael J. Asberry

Darryl V. Jones, Carl Lumbly

Darryl V. Jones, Carl Lumbly

Darryl V. Jones, Carl Lumbly, Jeff Garrett, Michael J. Asberry, Titus Tomkins, Kehinde Koyejo, Steven Anthony Jones.

Darryl V. Jones, Carl Lumbly, Jeff Garrett, Michael J. Asberry, Titus Tomkins, Nick Steen, Kehinde Koyejo, Steven Anthony Jones.

Aldo Billingslea, Darryl V. Jones

Aldo Billingslea, Darryl V. Jones

Kehinde Koyejo, Steven Anthony Jones

Kehinde Koyejo, Steven Anthony Jones

Darryl V. Jones, Carl Lumbly

Darryl V. Jones, Carl Lumbly

Rafael Jordan, Carl Lumbly

Rafael Jordan, Carl Lumbly

David Moore, David Westley Skillman, Aldo Billingslea

David Moore, David Westley Skillman, Aldo Billingslea

Peter Macon, Darryl V. Jones, David Moore, David Westley Skillman, Aldo Billingslea, Rafael Jordan, Carl Lumbly

Peter Macon, Darryl V. Jones, David Moore, David Westley Skillman, Aldo Billingslea, Rafael Jordan, Carl Lumbly

Aldo Billingslea, Rafael Jordan

Aldo Billingslea, Rafael Jordan

Titus Tomkins, Nick Steen, Kehinde Koyejo, Steven Anthony Jones

Titus Tomkins, Nick Steen, Kehinde Koyejo, Steven Anthony Jones

David Moore, Carl Lumbly

David Moore, Carl Lumbly

Steven Anthony Jones

Steven Anthony Jones

David Westley Skillman, Carl Lumbly

David Westley Skillman, Carl Lumbly

Carl Lumbly, Jeff Garrett, (Michael J. Asberry), Titus Tomkins, Nick Steen

Carl Lumbly, Jeff Garrett, (Michael J. Asberry), Titus Tomkins, Nick Steen

Darryl V. Jones, Carl Lumbly

Darryl V. Jones, Carl Lumbly

Peter Macon, Carl Lumbly

Peter Macon, Carl Lumbly

Carl Lumbly, Jeff Garrett

Carl Lumbly, Jeff Garrett

Darryl V. Jones, David Westley Skillman, Rafael Jordan, David Moore, Aldo Billingslea, Peter Macon, Carl Lumbly, Jeff Garrett, Michael J. Asberry, Titus Tomkins, Nick Steen, Kehinde Koyejo, Steven Anthony Jones

Darryl V. Jones, David Westley Skillman, Rafael Jordan, David Moore, Aldo Billingslea, Peter Macon, Carl Lumbly, Jeff Garrett, Michael J. Asberry, Titus Tomkins, Nick Steen, Kehinde Koyejo, Steven Anthony Jones

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Hear Steven Anthony Jones interviewed by Wanda Sabir

Click the link below to download or listen to Steven Anthony Jones discuss Project 1 Voice and Charles Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play.

Excerpt: Wanda’s Picks 24 May 2013 (27 minutes)

Depending on your Web browser, you may be able to play the interview from this page. If a player button appears below this paragraph, just click it and it should play. If a text link (or unlinked text) appears instead of a player button, please use the above link. Thank you!

The Audio may also be heard on the LHTSF.ORG Web site at LHTSF.org/p1v.html

Please note that this audio is edited from a two-hour broadcast which included other on-air guests. The full audio may be found on Wanda Sabir’s Web site, Wanda’s Picks: Click here to access it.

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Audience responses to “We Are Proud to Present” at MoAD

We Are Proud to Present prgramme cover

Programme Art by Marc Pâquette

A near capacity crowd at the Museum of the African Diaspora’s 2nd floor Salon enjoyed our staged reading of We Are Proud to Present, by Jackie Sibblies Drury.

Stephanie Demott, Bert van Aalsburg, Joshua L. Green, Dan Clegg, Reggie D. White, Scott Ragle, Steven Anthony Jones.

The cast of We Are Proud to Present: (l to r) Stephanie Demott, Bert van Aalsburg (Stage Manager), Joshua L. Green, Dan Clegg, Reggie D. White, Scott Ragle, Steven Anthony Jones. (not pictured, Kehinde Koyejo)

Kehinde Koyejo

Kehinde Koyejo

Stephanie Demott

Joshua L. Green

Dan Clegg

Reggie D. White

Scott Ragle

“Very enjoyable … the actors really drew me in … I think it would be even more effective on stage [in] a full … production. It really gets you thinking.”

Kehinde Koyejo & Stephanie Demott

Joshua L. Green, Dan Clegg, Reggie D. White, & Scott Ragle

“This is an interesting new voice.”

The audience in The Salon at MoAD

Bert van Aalsburg (Stage Manager, seated), Kehinde Koyejo, Stephanie Demott, & Joshua L. Green

Dan Clegg, Reggie D. White, & Scott Ragle

“Yes! Right on, to the stage. I would attend and bring others.”

Kehinde Koyejo

Stephanie Demott

“I thought the contradictory versions of history they all shared [with the audience and each other] was well done.”

Joshua L. Green, Dan Clegg, Reggie D. White, & Scott Ragle

“I enjoyed the reading. Very thought provoking and intense. Do a full production!”

Dan Clegg

Reggie D. White

“Yes, I enjoyed it; Yes, [mount] a full production. Left me feeling badly (about the history of Namibia), but this is a part of life”

Stephanie Demott & Joshua L. Green

Dan Clegg & Reggie D. White

“The acting was EXCELLENT as usual — a hallmark of LHTSF! Thank you!”

Stephanie Demott

Reggie D. White

“It reveals the ‘behind the curtains’ of the creative process, as well as the inner conflict of [the] performers that [are] also the issues we all go thru in life.”

Dan Clegg, Reggie D. White (seated), & Scott Ragle

Reggie D. White & Scott Ragle

“All of the historical references … so current — I’m a teacher — could use the play as basis for great discussions, including the ‘post-racial’ society, or rather because of it.”

Kehinde Koyejo

 

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Black Odyssey holds AAACC audience spellbound

The Cast: Steven Anthony Jones, Britney Frazier, Aldo Billingslea, Kehinde Koyejo, Dimitri Woods, Margo Hall, Carl Lumbly & Darryl V. Jones. Not in this photo: Halili Knox.

Steven Anthony Jones, Halili Knox, & Britney Frazier.

All Comments taken from feedback forms:

Great Play!

Aldo Billingslea & Kehinde Koyejo

Great talented actors; epic quality to play

Carl Lumbly as
“Great Grand Daddy Deus” (Zeus)

Aldo Billingslea as “Ulysses Lincoln”

Margo Hall as “Aunt Tina” (Athena)

Darryl V. Jones as
“Great Grand Paw Sidin” (Poseidon)

Kehinde Koyejo as “Nella Pell”

Britney Frazier as “Benevolence Nausicca Sabine”

Superb! Emotional! So moving — will appeal to wide audience

Aldo Billingslea, Kehinde Koyejo, Dimitri Woods, & Margo Hall.

Britney Frazier & Aldo Billingslea

Engaging reading by a remarkable cast! We need this on stage!

Kehinde Koyejo & Dimitri Woods

Aldo Billingslea & Kehinde Koyejo

It touched my heart and inspired me to understand my history.

Kehinde Koyejo, Dimitri Woods, & Margo Hall

The Immortals:
“Aunt Tina,” “Great Grand Daddy Deus,” & “Great Grand Paw Sidin”
(Athena, Zeus & Poseidon)

Aldo Billingslea & Kehinde Koyejo
Happy Ending!

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Start Fair at Joyce Gordon Gallery

Britney Frazier, David Moore, Joshua L. Green,
and Steven Anthony Jones

by Steven Anthony Jones
Artistic Director

A packed house followed the unexpected twists in Aaron Carter’s Start Fair during a reading last Friday at Joyce Gordon Gallery in downtown Oakland.

The audience was introduced to the two central characters, newly emancipated Tiberius and Marcus, who had been slaves on the same plantation. They set out to determine their future in a completely altered landscape and encounter a series of characters, starting with a census taker for the Freedmen’s Bureau who gives them $100 if they don’t tell an angry white mob where he is.

Audiene at Joyce Gordon Gallery

A spellbound crowd was on the edge of their seats at the Joyce Gordon Gallery while listening to one of the most original scripts that LHT has found this year.

The play uses a mixture of absurdist humor and unforeseen violence to depict a world where former slaves exert their power, white people adjust to the new social order and everyone is in a desperate struggle to survive. Tiberius is a chilling character, at once cynical beyond belief and deeply principled. Carter, a young African American playwright, is an extremely interesting and gifted writer, creating scenes you can’t get out of your head.

Start Fair

Joshua L. Green, Steven Anthony Jones,
Halsey Varedy, and Jeff Garrett.
(All Photos by Brenda Jones)

In the discussion afterwards, audience members shared their thoughts about what motivated the characters and the circumstances during slavery that shaped them.

The next reading, April 6 at the African American Art and Cultural Center, features Black Odyssey by Marcus Gardley, a young African-American playwright getting a lot of critical acclaim. Plus he’s one of our own, born and raised in Oakland.

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