"What To Expect"

BlackPlayBook seeks to re-vision "black play"as cultural production that counters gender, race and class- based oppression. As such, BlackPlayBook performs within a womanist/black feminist tradition on a "play-ground" of black performance, scholarship and activism. BlackPlayBook references a special issue of Theatre Journal v57, n4 (December 2005) that asks, "What is Black Play?"

Sunday, January 22, 2012

“Crowns-Ft. Valley (March 1-4, 2012) Production Notes”- End of Week Two

This past Friday, which marked the end of the second week of rehearsals for Crowns- Ft. Valley, ended on a very high note. I’m talking a Minnie Riperton high note! Jade Lambert Smith, our assistant director, completed her two week “Introduction to acting/theater” workshop and we all hated to see her go! Our cast, a combination of Fort Valley State University students and staff as well as Fort Valley community members, learned memorization, vocal techniques and ensemble strategies. The multi-generational cast took to Professor Lambert’s teachings “like ducks to water,” even exceeding her expectations. We ended the session by gathering in a circle to pray and sing “This Little Light of Mine” which truly reflected the spirit of our production here in Middle Georgia. Forgive me if I’m a little ahead of myself since this is the first time in a while that I’ve gotten to share our process. We cast the play late last fall but it took until just last week to secure someone to play “Man” (“A good ‘Man’ is hard to find”- lol). Our cast members are as follows: Mrs. Darrell Fobbs as “Mother Shaw,” Kristie Kenney as “Mabel, Faith Ford-Palmer as “Wanda,” Ashley C. Williams as “Jeanette,” Brittaney Carter as “Velma” and Britni Moore as “Yolanda.” Check out our Facebook page where we post pics and updates: To support our cast, we’ve “imported” our director, Tom Jones, and assistant director, (the aforementioned) Jade Lambert Smith, all the way from Atlanta (1.5 hrs away). Our production crew is made up of FVSU staff and students including Tauheedah Asad, stage manager; Amanda Allen, asst. stage manager; Dana Jefferson, understudy and production asst. and Markia Mitchell, production asst. We are a dynamic group! Finally, I must remark on the rich context into which this play will be birthed. Middle Georgians still practice some of the traditions upon which “Crowns” is based. In fact, Mrs. Fobbs (Mother Shaw) is a primary resource for these traditions and she’s been able to tell us where to find them. As part of our research, some of the students and I plan to attend a “joint communion and feet washing” at the end of the month. Our director Tom Jones, informed us that the feet washing tradition is a part of “celebrating death” since you will get to join the ancestors (conversely, birth is mourned). There are several Primitive Baptist churches in the area where we may get to experience these traditions to make the production richer. Needless to say, working on this production is causing my performance based research agenda to grow by the minute; it’s proving to be an embarrassment of riches! In addition to the ring shout, I am thinking/writing about Black women’s traditions of adornment and cultural criticism. This should keep me busy for the next couple of years! This week, the cast moves into rehearsing the music under the direction of my FVSU colleague, Bruce Thompson. Please believe, we will be raising a mighty shout here in Ft. Valley! Be sure to check back for more updates and pics, too!

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