SEASON 23 - 2016
April 9 - 24
Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Major praise for "In Response"
Bad cops, anguished mothers and humor too:
'In Response' looks at racism through different eyes
Reviewed for the Los Angeles Times by David C. Nichols
"In Response,” Towne Street Theatre’s multi-author answer to systemic racism throughout American history, ends this weekend — and it’s a must-see.
Towne Street, founded after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, is dedicated to creating original work that is reflective of the African American experience. “In Response” does just that.
The opening piece is “Pains of a Black Earth Man,” writer-performer Adrian Zeigler’s spoken-word ritual that sets the tone for an omnibus that asks as many questions as it provides specific perspectives.
In Vincent Terrell Durham’s searing “A Mother’s Cry,” five women from different eras depict the horror of losing a child. “The Saturday Nighters,” written by Madeline Puccioni, centers on a confab of Georgia Douglas Johnson, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Oswald Villard responding to an anti-lynching bill before Congress.
And so it goes, aided by shrewdly chosen videos and costumes. Some pieces are short and surreal, others realistic, and the collegiate elements of some works are trumped by passion, variety and authenticity.
Humor shows up, as in Ken Cosby’s delicious Act 2 opener, “Trippin,” which starts out as a campy disco riff, then swerves into sobriety with the arrival of authorities, only to end on a hilarious reversal.
But it is the graver pieces that directly hit our solar plexus: Veronica Thompson’s “The Escape,” a tale of a young female slave attempting to go north in male disguise; Cosby’s “No Justice,” involving a white racist cop and a black internal affairs officer post-Rodney King; or the house-stilling mime piece, “Two Sandras,” written by Samantha Clay.
The huge cast has undiluted commitment, many of them doubling as writers and directors.
Rarely does theater by committee convey such potent impact. Long before the hopeful “A Concern of National Interest” finale, which takes on a certain Irving Berlin standard, “In Response” has entered our consciousness in ways impossible to ignore or shake.
'In Response' - Theatre Review
Reviewed for Discover Hollywood Magazine by Rachel Flanagan
Towne Street Theatre, L.A.'s premiere African American theatre company, presents In Response, a multi-author "response" to systemic racism in American History. In Response is a multi-media vignette filled with spoken word, poetry, short plays, songs and video, which each author wrote, as their response toward racism throughout America from as far back as the 1800's to present day. As an African American theatre company, Towne Street wanted to respond to the recent epidemic of police shootings and violence against unarmed black men and women. Each piece touches on such prominent topics as slavery, interracial relationships, lynching, Rodney King, Black Lives Matter, Martin Luther King, Jr., public perceptions of race, and an optimistic hope for the future of race in America.
In Response, is filled with emotions with performances that are not only powerful but also inspired by true-life events. Some of the highlights include The Saturday Nighters; a short play about an anti-lynching group of writers in the 1930's which included Georgia Douglas Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, Oswald Villard and Langston Hughes. Two Sandra's explores how two women of different races can be so similar and treated so differently. The Mountaintop, which speaks upon Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous last speech. No Justice, touching upon both what happened to Rodney King and interracial relationships.
Scattered throughout the performances are some light-hearted moments and laughter with the musical disco number 70's Time Trippin' where the party does not stop until the cops show up - or does it? Tomatoes-Tomahtoes shares the laughs with 2016 new-year resolutions amongst a group of friends that touch upon public perceptions of race.
The cast of the production produce such impeccable performances that the audience can feel the powerful emotion behind each enactment of such poignant issues and moments in racism. A few of the performers were also the writers behind some of the pieces making the emotion all the more personal. This sophomore run of In Response coincides with the 48 th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 24 th Anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots, which provided the inspiration for the creation of the Towne Street Theatre to create a positive social impact. A special Art Exhibit, curated by local Artist Connie Martin, will accompany the performance in the Stella Adler/LA Art Gallery. There will be talkbacks and a call for audience responses during the run of the show. No matter what your race, In Response, speaks to everyone with a powerful voice and emotional hope for a future filled with less hate.
Enjoy this excerpt from "A Mother's Cry,"
one of the many play performed.
View all the "In Response" photos
The Press says...
TotalTheater.com - Will Manus
"A potpourri of short plays, spoken-word, video and song, In Response was triggered by the recent spate of police shootings and violent attacks on unarmed black men and women. The Black Lives Matter movement has a prominent position in the show, whose historical roots lead back to slavery and the Civil War. Some two dozen actors, backed up at times by video projection, give voice to the feelings, thoughts and demands of African-American people down through the ages, with an emphasis on the hope and promise for the future of race relations in the USA.
A few famous writers are quoted in the show—notably Claude McKay and George Moses Horton—but for the most part, In Response was written by company members. Working in a variety of styles, these writers contribute original sketches which hammer away at the pernicious effects of racism on the soul of this country. That’s not to say, though, that In Response is devoid of humor or satire.
The show’s 22 scenes take place on Nathaniel Bellamy’s simple but evocative set; there is no denying its professionalism, importance and power."
Discover Hollywood - Rachel Flanagan
"In Response is filled with emotions with performances that are not only powerful, but also inspired by true-life events... Scattered throughout the performances are some light-hearted moments... The cast of the production produce such impeccable performances that the audience can feel the powerful emotion behind each enactment of such poignant issues and moments in racism...A few of the performers were also the writers behind some of the pieces making the emotion all the more personal. No matter what your race, In Response speaks to everyone with a powerful voice and emotional hope for a future filled with less hate."
EURWEB.com - DeBorah Pryor
"Towne Street Theatre’s successful multi-author production, In Response returned to a packed house at the Stella Adler this weekend. The audience was transported to times and places in recent and past history... On video in this multimedia production, as well as on stage, we are reminded of the deaths that came too soon for Black men and boys;women and girls, including Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland. Good performances all around..."
and the Audience agrees!
"It was AMAZING. That standing ovation was well deserved. It was a great show, audience and talk back. People were impressed and moved."
"Excellent, Extraordinary and an Exceptional Experience... not a false note amongst the cast or the plays... Kudos to everyone who made this happen."
"Congratulations to the talented artists at Towne Street doing some important work. Have a fantastic run!!"
"This is intellectually vigorous theater and you, whoever you are... should go."
"In Response is not only brilliant but a necessity! I was deeply moved and learned so much. The writing was so full of life and the cast was stellar. I laughed heartily and was angered from a real place. Not angry like I want to cause harm, but angered in way that makes me want to take action. Thank you for this show."
A study on racism that is both timeless and relevant
Towne Street Theatre, L.A.’s premiere African American theatre company, presents “In Response,” a multi-author "response" to systemic racism throughout American history. “In Response” is presented from a historical perspective, spanning from 1800 to 2015, with a collage of original scenes, poems, songs, video, and movement written and created by its members. There will be talkbacks following the Saturday & Sunday performances at The Stella Adler Theater in Hollywood.
As artists of color, the company felt it had to respond to the recent numerous police shootings and violence against unarmed black men and women, including the Black Lives Matter movement, and the brutality suffered by African-Americans, beginning with slavery.
Stella Adler Theatre
6773 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Educational Outreach Materials
THE LINE UP
Nancy Cheryll Davis
Mark V. Jones
Nancy Cheryll Davis-Bellamy
Artistic Director / Producer
Mark V. Jones
Light, Sound, Video Tech, Stage Manager
Light, Sound, Video Tech
Ken Cosby - Playwright
Nancy Cheryl Davis-Bellamy - Director
Mark V. Jones - Ian Stanley