This week, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed Rachel Robinson (wife of Jackie Robinson), cast and filmmakers of the new Jackie Robinson biopic “’42” to the White House for a “Film Workshop for Students.” Personally, I wouldn’t call this a workshop when students aren’t holding and operating cameras, writing scripts, or rehearsing/reviewing scenes. So this post will rename it a “Filmmakers Session for Students.” Maybe someone on the “’42″ team will say something that will inspire a future filmmaker, actor, writer, producer, set designer, or even baseball player. I’m placing my bets on Rachel Robinson.
Read between the lines in the First Lady’s
testimonial opening remarks as she hails Rachel Robinson and the story of the film. These two women are in the circle of historical “racial firsts.” And I’m sure Michelle Obama was not just talking about Rachel and Jackie Robinson when she describes the taunts, name calling, and verbal abuse from the stands. Listen carefully. She’s telling US something.
The actor playing Jackie Robinson is Chadwick Boseman. I was introduced to Chad in ’99 when he co-starred in my first full-length play Iola’s Letter about Ida B. Wells and the launch of her anti-lynching crusade in 1892. Ida may not have been a first, but she most definitely joins Michelle and Rachel’s circle of black women who’ve had to take the heat. Ida was taking the heat on her own, and packing it as well. “Iola’s Letter” was written at the request of Vera J. Katz, professor of drama at Howard. She was approved by her department to direct “a reading.” But it turned out to be a performance, fully staged, fully costumed, and a set — the actors memorized the lines and carried the scripts in their hands to stick to the original bargain. Eight
performances readings were scheduled for the black box theater. A ninth had to be added to accomodate audience enthusiasm (the 8 were sold out). ’99 turned out to be a great season. Here’s a clip from Act I, scene 1 from a the fairly damaged VHS recording. I hear you Marty Scorsese (2013 NEH Jefferson Lecture).
’42 opens in theaters April 12.
And I’m talking about the Tony Award winning play, “War Horse” by Nick Stafford based on the Michael Morpurgo novel. The play’s been around for a bit, but I’m still amazed by this production especially the puppeteering by Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa “War Horse” is currently at the Kennedy Center. The International Horse Show is in Washington, DC too. Beautiful horses.
Introducing the MTPC Project -
MENACE THE PUBLIC CONSCIENCE/
MAKE THE PUBLIC CONSCIOUS Project
Saturday, May 26 (12noon – 4 PM)
No Admission Fee
The Martin Luther King Memorial Library
901 G Street, (Lower Level)
Washington, DC 20001
“THE MAN” stars James Earl Jones who through the law of succession, becomes the first Black President of the United States. Janet MacLachlan, Martin Balsam, Burgess Meridith, also star. The film directed by Joe Sargent, is based on the book by Irving Wallace with a screenplay by Rod Serling.
“UPTIGHT” stars Julian Mayfield, Roscoe Lee Brown, Max Julien, and Ruby Dee (who co-wrote the screenplay). Based on the 1935 film “THE INFORMER” by John Ford, this 1968 release deals with the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and was directed by Jules Dassin.
MTPC is the name of a new project led by actor Clayton LeBouef (“Something The Lord Made,” “Homicide, The Wire”) and taken from a quote by Rod Serling.
“The writer’s role is to menace the public’s conscience. He must have a position, a point of view. He must see the arts as a vehicle for social criticism and he must focus on the issues of his time.”
Mr. LeBouef, is partnering with eclectique916.com to reintroduce films reflecting a storyteller’s willingness to roll the dice and deliver a message about the human experience. The MTPC project includes a “people’s campaign” to bring lost works back to life through public screenings and re-releases on DVD or video streaming. You can get involved.
MTPC project is presenting “The Man” June 17 at 1 PM with the LakeArts Foundation Film Festival “Politics Goes to the Movies” in Chautauqua, New York. More information is available here.
More information about the MTPC Project will be available at the May 26 event. Email events[at]eclectique916[dot]com And Stay Tuned!
MARDI GRAS FAT TUESDAY – MARCH 8
Rio, Mobile Alabama, New Orleans, Trinidad Tobago, Venice, Quebec City, Sydney, Belgium, Germany….Last party day before Lent. Here’s a clip from my friend Philip Day’s documentary “Inside Rio Carnival.”
The Department of Radio, TV & Film at Howard University presents
CASTING AND AUDITIONING FOR YOU: THE DIRECTOR, PRODUCER, & ACTOR
Presented by noted acting coach and teacher VERA J. KATZ
(Former students include Taraji P Henson, Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad, & Isaiah Washington)
THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 2011, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
School of Communications, Screening Room West
525 Bryant St., NW, Washington, DC
COST: $25.00 GENERAL ADMISSION for all attendees
REGISTRATION DEADLINE: 3/09/11
REGISTER IN RTVF OFFICE C 230
Workshop participants will:
• Study acting and directing theory/techniques
• Perform in small groups and execute scene work
• Receive constructive feedback
• Have a great time!
For more info, call (202) 806-4507 or (202) 806-7927; Fax (202) 806-4844 or e-mail email@example.com
Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC through May 30, 2011
Venice is on my destination list. Being there for carnival would be even sweeter. For now, there’s this exhibit of Venetian painters. The gallery also has a rare 19th century gondola on display.
Description: Venice inspired a school of competitive view painters whose achievements are among the most brilliant in 18th-century art. The exhibition celebrates the rich variety of these Venetian views, known as vedute, through some 20 masterworks by Canaletto and more than 30 by his rivals, including Michele Marieschi, Francesco Guardi, and Bernardo Bellotto. Responding to an art market fueled largely by the Grand Tour, these gifted painters depicted the famous monuments and vistas of Venice in different moods and seasons.
Who was Giovanni Antonio Canal?
Center Stage in Baltimore presents reading of stage adaptation “Jazz” based on the novel by Toni Morrison”
Thursday, March 17, 8pm through Sunday, March 20, 2011, 8pm
Center Stage, 700 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD
Marion McClinton has taken what I thought was a confusing novel/narrative and crafted a play as part of Center Stage’s new Play Lab. Sometimes a dramatist can identify a sustaining thread in a story. McClinton is associate artist, and veteran actor and director at Center Stage. Actors Tracie Thoms and Clayton LeBeouf will read. Center Stage has just hired a new Artistic Director, British playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah. Read more on that in the Baltimore Sun.
For information about the “Jazz” readings, call 410-332-0033. Tickets available from Center Stage at this link.
Edward Albee Festival – Arena Stage
30 plays by Edward Albee some on stage, some staged readings. Here are a few highlights:
Mon., Mar. 7, 7:30 p.m. and Tue., Mar. 8, 7:30 p.m.
Lolita (1981) Adapted from the novel by Vladimir Nabokov
Producer: Round House Theatre
Director: Blake Robison
Two acts; 120 min
Sometime professor Humbert Humbert falls in love with Lolita, the prepubescent daughter of his landlady. After marrying her mother to get close to her, “HH” pursues a passionate but conflicted relationship with the girl. Albee’s adaptation includes a narrator who speaks to HH and to the audience in the voice of an author — perhaps Nabokov, perhaps Albee himself.
Tue., Mar. 8, 6 p.m. and Wed., Mar. 9, 6 p.m.
Finding the Sun (1982)
Producer: Univ. of Maryland School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies
Director: Erin Bone Steele
One-act; 45 min
Short scenes of eight people at the beach and their triangles of relationship: Abigail is married to Benjamin, who’s involved with Daniel, who’s married to Cordelia, who’s …
Fri., Mar. 11, 6:30 p.m.
Box (1968) and Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (1968)
Director: Aaron Posner
Double bill; 45 min
Two explorations of musical patterns in drama: in Box, a woman’s voice speaks in short, timed bursts about a range of ideas: building design, languages, arts and crafts, corruption, spilled milk, seagulls and the sounds of the sea. In Quotations, Chairman Mao speaks of the rise of Communism and the defeat of American capitalism; a Long-Winded Lady addresses a government minister about an incident in which she fell off the side of an ocean liner; an Old Woman recites a poem.
Fri., Mar. 11, 7:30 p.m.
The Death of Bessie Smith (1959)
Director: Irene Lewis
One-act; 45 min
A fictionalized series of scenes showing different perspectives on the events surrounding the death of jazz legend Bessie Smith. Based on what were eventually discovered to be apocryphal rumors about Bessie Smith’s death.
Go to the Arena Stage Mead Center for American Theater Albee page for a full schedule.
Aside from being outstanding performers, what do Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen, Taraji P. Henson, Lynn Whitfield, Tracie Thoms, Isaiah Washington, Anthony Anderson, and Jeffrey Wright share in common?
They were trained by Vera J. Katz. I was trained by Vera J. Katz as a playwright. Vera suggested and directed my first full-length play while she was a professor of drama at Howard University. If you are serious about your stage craft and want an honest and constructive opinion, you should have an encounter with Vera J. Katz. Something says an “Eclectique Interview” is needed for a later date, but in the meantime, consider a face-to-face master class with a true master. The acting class will cover technique and script analysis.
WHEN: Sunday, January 30 form 4 – 6:30 PM
WHERE: Performing Arts Training Studio, 6925 Willow Street, NW, Washington, DC 20012 (near Takoma Metro)
Register online at www.performingartstrainingstudio.com
Note: From personal experience, sign up only if you’re serious…and you won’t regret it.