Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Winter Theatre Festival"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Larry Stark


Winter Theatre Festival"

Boston Arts Academy

Scene Design by Jenna Lord
Costume Design by Seth Bodie
Lighting Design by Mark Buchanan

"Lysistrata"

by Aristophanes
Directed by Seth Bodie

Chorus Leader.....................Julia Goodman
Caolonice..........................Kiara Thomas
Lysistrata........................Mara Novembre
Stupid Soldier/Cenesias...........Julian Arroyo
Stupid Soldier 2/Councilor...Joselius Rodriguez
Myrrhine.........................Grace Whitlock
Boetia...........................Jermelia McKoy
Lampito........................Janeese Chambers
Corinthia.........................Angie Morales
Scythia........................Jamilia Alleyene

"Marisol"

by Jose Rivera
Directed by Adam McClean
Assistant Director Maya Baca

Marisol.............Elizabeth Ramirez
Angel.........Elisvania Ramos=-Vargas
June....................Renee Marrone
Lenny...................Michael Casey
Man with Scar Tissue.....Benito Henri
Ice Cream Man.....Nelson Martinez Jr.
Woman with Furs 1........Kate Fornaro
Man with Golf Club......Eddie Elliott
Woman with Golf Club...Jenny Santiago
Woman with Furs 2....Tiana Sutherland

"Wine in The Wilderness"

Directed by Juanita Rodrigues
Stage Manager Matthew Mays

Bill...........Calvin Graves
Tommy.........Shakara Carter
Oldtimer..........Jay Cottle
Sonny-Man........Zan Headley
Cynthia........Deanice Gomes

"Kill A Man"

by Abdi Ali
'Directed by John ADEKoje
Assistant Director Elyas Harris

Shadid........Joe Fox
Baze...Kervin Germain
Benny...Cesarina Soto
Lex....Dennis Riveria

Would you believe an inner-city Boston high school that needed a "bouncer" to make kids leave the building at the end of the day? Where kids would show up during this vacation-week when the school was closed, wanting to attend classes? Some stupid television sit-com, right?
No, that's true of the Boston Arts Academy --- where students, regardless of academic grades, are accepted only after passing auditions, take classes in Math and English but specialize in theater, art, music and dance taught by working professionals. The building is alive with the feverish energy and enthusiasm of teen-agers involved in something they love. And, as you can see, I saw them performing in four different plays through an entire Friday --- a fascinating experience.

They started with a street-smart updated translation of "Lysistrata" the anti-war comedy, followed by the surrealistic end-of-the-world fantasy "Marisol"; and after a break for food there was a romance-play discussing the role of the Black artist in today's world ("Wine in The Wilderness"), and they ended with an original by a faculty-member playwright ("Kill A Man") dealing in ritual-style with the language of the streets. As with more professional productions, the casts got to perform each show at least twice over a four-day period, with direction and design handled by theater professionals some of whom teach classes at the academy.

What inexperienced actors, especially high-schoolers, lack is technique --- which comes with experience --- but where they shine is in energy and raw talent, and this was obvious everywhere here. But in every play I noticed a concentration and a "stage presence" in sometimes huge casts that outshone any youthful rough edges.

And there are other, less obvious strengths --- like their enthusiastic unwillingness to break off learning and practicing. Even in "mere" chorus parts I noticed an assurance and a serious approach. In one particular case lines were actually minimal though this silent character dominated the stage even when motionless. And I heard later that the performer, drug-free and gang-free after a difficult life, was looking forward to taking poise and self-assurance from stage into life, thinking about using life-experience in psychiatric or social-work worlds, but of course continuing to do theater.

From the commitment to the work, it looked to me as though everyone would be involved, somehow, with theater for the rest of their lives.

Love,
===Anon.

Winter Theatre Festival (9 - 14 February)
BOSTON ARTS ACADEMY
174 Ipswich Street, BOSTON, MA
1(617)635-6470

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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