Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Benefit Reading of Baldwin's THE AMEN CORNER

Uprooted Theatre participates in US-wide simultaneous reading of James Baldwin's classic drama.

By Russ Bickerstaff
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One of the heavier stage dramas to come out of the '50s, James Baldwin's The Amen Corner concerns itself with family, religion and murky truths in a racially oppressed culture. First published in 1954, the three-act play follows an African-American family and the role of the church in its life. There's a kind of fearlessness in the premise . . . taking something of an unflinching look at the role of religion in the lives of people . . . and casting a glance at how the teachings of the New Testament often go unnoticed by those who spend their lives a bit too close to it. The protagonist here is using religion to escape the struggles of life when clearly it needs to be used to embrace them--and the family. 

 

Next week, Baldwin's classic is being read simultaneously in by 24 different theatre companies all over the country. Milwaukee's Uprooted Theatre is participating in the program locally. Their reading is being held at 7pm on June 18th at Good Shepherd  Lutheran Church. This marks the beginning of Uprooted's residence with the church where they will be presenting performances and staged readings in the future. 

 

The project is being organized by Project 1 Voice--a national nonprofit group looking to promote artistic excellence in Black theater. I'm sure there's an uncomfortably large segment of the population that hears the term "black theater," and thinks Tyler Perry  . . . and A Raisin In the Sun . . . and nothing else. Project 1 Voice is looking to change that. There's a rich tradition of African American theater and it tends to get overlooked. With luck and perseverance, Uprooted can add to that tradition. With their recent productions at In Tandem Theatre and the Broadway Theatre Center, they're reaching some pretty integrated audiences, which is vitally important to maintaining a strong African American presence in Milwaukee theater. 

 

Uprooted's reading of The Amen Corner with Project 1 Voice will be staged Monday, June 18th at 7pm at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on 3617 North 48th Street. The suggested donation for tickets is $25 available either at the door or at Brown Paper Tickets.com.

 

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