Theatre Workouts with Margarette Joyner

 

“Theatre Workouts with Margarette”

Hickory Hill Community Center
3000 Belt Blvd
Starting June 4th thru August 6th (Every Monday evening)
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Cost is a mere $15.00 per class or you can save $20.00 by paying $130 in full for all 10 sessions
We will work on your audition pieces, cold readings, improve and monologues.  By the time you finish the session, you will not only have brushed up on your skills, you will have material for originial monologues and the making of a solo performance.  At the end of the workshop, we will have a presentation for your family and friends.  We are going to have a blast!!!
For more details, give me a call 400-7174.

“Intro to Puppetry”

Hickory Hill Community Center
3000 Belt Blvd
Starting June 6th thru July 26 (Every Wed. & Thurs. evening)
Cost is a mere $10.00 per class or you can save $30.00 by paying $120 in full for all 15 sessions.  (All students pay a $20.00 supply fee)
By the time you complete this workshop you will have learned an art form that dates back as far as 400BC!  We are going to be making sock, hand, shadow and rod puppets!  After making these puppets, you will then learn the art of manipulating them.  At the end of the workshop, we will have a presentation for your family and friends.  It’s going to be so much fun!!!!
For more details, give me a call 400-7174.

2012 Cultsha Xpo!

Come out and support AART!

The CultSha Xpo is coming! Help us make this the best AART Season possible. How can you help?

  1. Sign Up :  Register for the CultSha Xpo @ http://www.richmondcultureworks.org/cultsha/CultshaSignup.aspx
    Be sure to enter “AART” in the SPECIAL CODE section. For your registration, on June 23, 2012 at the Science Museum you will receive “CultSha” dollars!
  2. Share : Tell friends to sign up and support AART!
  3. Show Up : Come out to the CultSha Xpo on June 23, 2012 at the Science Museum and collect your “CultSha” Dollars!
  4. Support AART : BRING THOSE CULTSHA DOLLARS TO THE AART Booth near the IMAX theatre in the Science Museum!

 

 

Cultsha Xpo is an explosion of the arts, history, science, and family fun for the Richmond Region – all under one roof on one day. This annual event presented by CultureWorks spotlighting the Richmond region’s non-profit arts and culture organizations. Cultsha Xpo is a gathering for Cultural Shareholders (cultsha member) – persons who recognize and value strong arts and culture for great communities.

  • FREE admission to the Science Museum of Virginia 10 – 5pm.

  • FREE performances from local arts and culture organizations including musical, visual art, theatrical, historical, dance and more!

  • Opportunities for families to learn from 70 local participating arts and culture organizations.

  • FREE money – CultshaBucks – for each registered cultural shareholder to use at the event, with any of the participating organizations to purchase tickets, memberships, sign-up for classes or make a general donation, and more.

    Don’t Miss This Grand Day of Excitement!

Ernie McClintock

 

Jazz Actors Technique was created by the late Ernie McClintock. McClintock  created his technique in Harlem, New York during the Black Arts Movement of the 1960/70’s. In 1966, Harlem, NY, Ernie McClintock combined his Afro-American Theatre with a school that offered actors a five-term curriculum of ten-week workshops in singing, karate, make-up, movement, yoga, speech and black theatre history. To enable inexperienced actors to free their talents, he evolved his jazz acting technique, a process which allowed actors to contribute to a production in much the same manner as a musician contributed to a jazz ensemble. As McClintock’s classes and company grew, he moved his studio three times to larger spaces before securing a “permanent” home for it at 415 West 127 street, a two-story building that had once been a brewery. Using a pool of talent from his classes, he mounted three to six productions a year. The choice of shows ranged from Shango de Ima: A Yoruba Mystery Play(1976) to Equus (1982). McClintock them moved to Atlanta and finally he came to Richmond VA and started Jazz Theatre of Richmond, where he mounted A Hand is on The Gate, and El hajj Malik El Shabazz: The dramatic life of Malcolm X. In 1992 McClintock changed the name of the company to Jazz Actors Theatre.

The technique is a common sense approach to acting grounded in the physical elements of performing as they pertain to character and situation. In fact, McClintock stated that “The primary concern of the actor was to give information (physical information) about character and situation”. Character, of course deals with the physical, mental, social, and economic make up of the person an actor portrays. Situation embodies the following elements: Environment (that which effects the natural, social, political, and economical climate of a place), Place (how the character relates to the physical space as required by the dictates of the play), Relationships (to characters seen and mentioned) and Objective (What does my Character want? Dictates behavior)   The physical information that an actor gives the audience through his/her performance is a series of deliberate  choices that are made in direct correlation to meeting the physical needs of ones characters and that characters situation. To derive at these physical choices actors need a safe environment for experimentation and risk taking. The rehearsal process for an ensemble of Jazz Actors becomes that sacred and coveted environment. Akin to a group of Jazz musicians who take a piece of written music and experiment with it’s many nuances by stretching phases, elongating notes, or toying with staccato, jazz actors examine a playwrights work in a similar fashion. They are empowered to explore bolder character choices, experiment with edgier stage business, or even stretch a characters subtext to it’s limits. Ernie McClintock saw rehearsals as a place to work the jazz into a refined performance. He gave each actor the freedom to explore his primary goal of character and situation. This process encourages bolder choices, creates a cohesive ensemble and produces a richer experience for the audience over all.

“Theatre is a place to expect the unexpected” – Ernie McClintock

Afro-American Studio for Acting & Speech – hundreds of people came through this very fine, well-known school for the training of Black actors for excellence on the stage.  The performing arm of The Studio, which is what the school was affectionately known as, was the Advanced Theatre Workshop.  This school eventually owned its own building with a fabulous art gallery, offices, dressing rooms and, if memory serves me well, two theatres.  It was home to The Studio and its Advanced Theatre Workshop, Dance Theatre Workshop and Poetry Theatre Workshop.

The Advanced Theatre Workshop morphed into The 127th Street Repertory Company…well-known for its daring, take-no-prisoners performances.

Next, McClintock & Walker operated under the name The Harlem Jazz Theatre.

After the duo moved to Richmond, VA they worked under the name Richmond Jazz Actors.  I know that there was some differences with some board members.  The notion of Jazz Actors was McClintock’s idea, but that organization wanted to hold on to that name after McClintock & Walker decided to move on.  The name Jazz Actors is intrinsic to the evolution of McClintock’s training technique.  To make a distinction between himself and whatever the earlier Richmond group might do, he incorporated his group under the name Ernie McClintock’s Jazz Actors’ Theatre.

 

“An actor is (or should be) more than a shell, a body and voice that moves around and talks without a mind, without a point of view and without concern for proper projection of lifestyles. Black Iife-style is not complete or total as seen through the eyes of even my favorite writer, Imamu Baraka, or Langston Hughes, whom many with narrow vision would consider his opposite. The Black experience is, indeed, as varied as the works Of Ed Bullins, Alice Childress, William Wellington Macky, N, R. Davidson, Sonia Sanchez, Ossie Davis and Ben Caldwell. A Blank actor is one who is aware of his identity, has respect for his art form, and processes a true regard for the diversity of the Black experience.
Ernie McClintock  “Black World” May 1974

 

Details! Details should be moving around those stages in all kinds of explicit images…
Ron Milner

 

The reason we spoke of Black Art was to get Black Artist, whether they were cooks or poets or tailors or singers or jazz musicians or athletes oractors, computer technicians or dancers or politicians, to tell about Black people truthfully, and not only tell them about themselves and their oppressors like they actually were, but also, hopefully, to provide some indication of what we, as a people, had to do to free ourselves, to rebuild our communities and restore our people to their traditional greatness.”
–  Imamu Amiri Baraka

 

 

The Next Act

There’s been a leadership change at the African American Repertory Theatre.

by Craig Belcher
February 16, 2012

The African American Repertory Theatre has a new artistic director. Veteran local actor D.L. Hopkins replaces Derome Scott Smith, who resigned in September for health reasons, after founding the company in 2002.

Hopkins, 43, has acted in several of the theater’s productions and directed its most recent, “Fences,” in November. Near the end of that show’s run, Hopkins says that Smith told him that he was stepping down. There was some concern in the theater community about the future of the theater after Smith’s resignation and the recent cancellation of its next scheduled production, “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Hopkins accepted the position one week ago.

“We’re still here,” Hopkins says. “The state of our union is strong.”

After years of experience in production, Hopkins says he is learning the business side of theater, as he works with the theater’s board of directors to restructure the company. “One of the things I’d like to do is really revamp and establish AART as a force to be reckoned with in this area,” he says. “Strengthen the company, make it a company that young actors of all stripes seek to do work with and become a part of.”

Hopkins says that the company’s next production may be announced in September. A new web site will launch in early March.

FENCES at AART

John Porter

Poet, prophet, miner of truth, August Wilson’s impact on American drama will reverberate for many years to come. Wilson is best known for his “Pittsburgh Cycle” which consists of ten plays, one for each decade of the 20th Century chronicling the lives of African Americans. His work, while dealing with the specifics of everyday life opens up these experiences and offers them as art to the rest of the world. One of Wilson’s best, and best known plays, FENCES is the current offering by the African American Repertory Theatre of Virginia and is being presented at Pine Camp.

On the surface it is the story of Troy Maxon, a garbageman beaten by life, a former star in the Negro Baseball Leagues, a home run hitter who was too old to be a part of the major leagues after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. It is the universal story of a man trying to do right for his family, to take care of his wife, to connect with his children, and to stay on the straight and narrow and not fall prey to the devil on his shoulder that wants him to seek excitement and ruin his life.

In actor J. Ron Fleming’s hands, Maxon is charismatic and likeable although not as physically imposing as a former home run slugger might be imagined. Fleming digs deep to mine Maxon’s pain and to vent his frustrations and his performance is vital and alive.

Delvin Young is his best friend Bono, his sidekick and audience and occasional conscience. I was impressed by Young’s understated approach which in turn made Fleming’s interpretation that much more flamboyant.

As Maxon’s wife, Rochelle Turnage provides the bedrock for the play. Her love and understanding offer the very foundation for all of the other characters to build upon. While her role seems underutilized during the first act, her approach in the second act provides much of the fireworks and Turnage gives a terrific performance.

In supporting roles, Justin Delaney offers a solid performance of son Corey, a boy on the threshold of becoming a man. Corey sees sports, specifically football as his way of bettering himself by earning a scholarship to college, while his father wants him to learn a trade instead. Also offering a good performance as Gabriel Maxon is Toney Cobb. Gabriel may have the ability to see into the other world and he heralds things to come.

The technical side is well done, especially Geno Brantley’s set – which is not easy to do with Pine Camp’s limitations, and Maura Lynch Cravey’s costumes. Cravey’s clothes subtly reinforce the time period and go a long way to set the mood.

Director dl Hopkins has gone a long ways to create a tight ensemble of actors and designers who have in turn created a powerful and touching production. FENCES is the kind of play that should have a longer run in order to have the time to find its audience, but unfortunately only has a short time to be seen. Put this one into your must see pile and don’t hesitate or like one of Troy Maxon’s home runs, it will be gone.

Stubborn Kind of Fellow

Stubborn Kind of Fellow

Despite flaws, AART’s “Fences” soars at Pine Camp.

by Rich Griset
November 08, 2011

 

African-American playwright August Wilson seemed to enjoy a running joke in his plays: the watermelon. Wilson must have found some perverse joy in incorporating such a racist symbol into his rich theatrical portrayals of black America.

“Fences,” fittingly enough, begins with two garbage men telling a watermelon joke. The play won Wilson his first Pulitzer Prize in 1987 (the second came in 1990 with “The Piano Lesson”), and was the 1950s installment of his Century Cycle — 10 plays chronicling the black experience in each decade of the 20th century.

The play, currently being produced by the African American Repertory Theatre of Virginia, focuses on the Maxons, an African-American family in Pittsburgh. Patriarch Troy’s headstrong and stubborn nature eventually leads to his downfall, and the suffering of those that love him.

While J. Ron Fleming’s Troy might not be as physically imposing as Wilson’s text specifies, the actor more than makes up for it with his onstage presence. Fleming’s stand-out performance is well worth seeing, but he seemed to have trouble with his lines on opening weekend. Delvin Young’s amiable turn as Troy’s best friend Bono is fittingly understated.

Rochelle Turnage, in her performance as Troy’s wife Rose, has difficulty portraying all the dimensions of the conflicted character. Rose is complex, balancing the desire to be a supportive wife with the anger of being cuckolded. Even at the play’s end Rose is still dealing with these competing emotions. Justin Delaney imbues his role as Troy’s son Cory with the perfect mixture of rebellion and respect for his father.

There was also one absolutely shameful performance the night I attended—that of the audience members sitting directly in front of the stage. Throughout the entire play they were talking and laughing disrespectfully. “Fences” is not a comedy, and I was angered to have some of the show’s most dramatic scenes undercut by a sea of laughter. Had I been a performer, I would have been furious.

D.L. Hopkins’ direction is troubled. In the scene where Troy won’t let Cory into the house, the idea that they would come to physical blows while 15 feet away makes little sense. The performances in “Fences” aren’t as uniformly strong as they were in last season’s “Jitney,” the 1970s installment of Wilson’s cycle. Still, laughing and all, it was a good evening of theater.

African American Repertory Theatre of Virginia’s “Fences” plays through Nov. 20 at Pine Camp Cultural Arts Center at 4901 Old Brook Road. Tickets are $15-22. For information visit aartva.org or call 355-2187.