SEASON 14 - 2007
TST In Repertory
Retrospectives & Encounters
February 16 - March 11, 2007
Biscuit, CB and What-His-Face and "Very Strange Fruit" mirror the hope and promise of the Emancipation Proclamation, to the reality that promise became in Alabama, 1964.
We move to the 21st Century and see how far we have come, and yet how the access we now possess has created a disconnect permeating our society. Act 2 is a revival of Jeff Stetson's "The Meeting," which looks at what might have happened if Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had met. What would our lives be if they had been able to fulfill the hope and promise of their dreams?
"Experience LA" Review
Mary Emerita Montoro (contributing writer)
Friday, March 09, 2007
In accordance to Black History month, TST got their best playwrights and actors and came up with insightful and provocative works in Encounters/Retrospectives. The production is divided into these two parts.
Encounters takes place in an upscale restaurant where three different stories are told simultaneously and ugliness is quickly revealed. In "Rich Bitch", Jean (Teressa Taylor) is wealthy, dresses in designer clothes and lets a good bottle of scotch go by. She comes across Janna (Aba Arthur) an impeccably dressed professional who gets irked when called by her southern name, Hattie. The two women have more in common than they realize and soon the whole restaurant knows. "The Launching of Katie Garrison" is a sweet tale of Katie (Kia Skrine), a country girl meeting an old family friend Alma (Vonna Bowen) for a job interview where it turns out that Alma has her own problems to deal with. The story that stood out of the most was "Digital Natives" where The Blogger (Sean Cory), the Buppie (Leslie Miller) and the Kid (RJ Jones) are heavily involved into their technology, only to soon realize the value of human contact.
Jeff Stetson likely based his work "The Meeting" on either, the rumor that civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. met secretly, or the picture where Malcolm and King are caught shaking hands in 1964. Regardless of his source of inspiration, he creates this powerful meeting in his work. One week before Malcolm's murder, Malcolm (Rico Anderson) invites the Reverend (Abner Genece) over to his hotel room for a discussion. When they meet, a verbal boxing match occurs where both share, discuss, argue, and accuse. The two opposing leaders are fighting for the same cause but with very different strategies. Anderson gave the most potent prophesy on both their lives: if Malcolm dies first, King would be seen as a martyr; if King dies first, they won't let Malcolm live much longer. Genece and Anderson give convincing performances as Malcolm and King.
The flip side of the evening, Retrospectives provides a snapshot of 'free slaves' mentally trapped in captivity. Biscuit (Sammie Wayne IV), C.B. (Darius Dudley) and Whatshisface (Mack Miles) are runaway slaves on their way to Freedom Land. Their plans are soon cursed when another slave Georgia (Robin Ray Eller) tells them that slaves have been freed for over two years thanks to President Lincoln. Fast-forward to 1964 in Union Springs, Alabama a place so small it is not even on the map where "Very Strange Fruit" by Mark V. Jones lays out the truth. Brother Joe Wenn (RCB) lives with his wife Odessa (Leslie Miller), his mother-in-law Granny (Zoe Cotton) and their niece and nephew June Mae and Li'l Wenn (Miller and Jones from Digital Natives) way up in the mountains. Unfortunately, racist Sheriff Calhoun (Trevor Parsons) and Deputy Spitz (Tom Hyer) make their joy in tormenting the family. The Wenn family stands together against their torment.
All the playwrights stretch their phenomenal talents to the beyond. Stetson and Jones tell a rarely acknowledged part of history and society. Artistic director Nancy Cheryll Davis-Bellamy and producing partner Nancy Renee should be applauded for making these powerhouse performances accessible and valuable. TST is a bold company providing magnificent stories.