I witnessed the on a regular basis lives of Black settlers in 1898 Nicodemus, Kansas, although excellent appearing performances in Bowie State College’s Theater Arts’ Flyin’ West. Director Angelisa Gillyard has crafted one of many DMV’s best-performed performs of the yr.
Written by Pearl Cleage in 1992, the play explores the little-known historical past of Black pioneers who, after the Civil Battle, moved to the West and took benefit of the Homestead Act, which provided 320 acres of land in western states to those that had been prepared to domesticate it for 5 years. These pioneers fled the racial violence of the Jim Crow South and established all-Black communities.
Three sisters, Sophie, Fannie, and Minnie, their good friend Miss Leah, and Fannie’s beau, Wil, confronted off in opposition to grasping land speculators, and even Minnie’s husband, Frank Charles, of their quest for freedom and the nice life. “On the coronary heart of the play is freedom, particularly newly received freedom,” mentioned Producer, Sound Designer, and Bowie State Theater Arts Professor Elena Velasco. “These characters not solely needed to carve a life in uncharted land, however envision a future for generations to come back whereas nonetheless therapeutic and being formed by their very own enslaved previous.”
Gillyard, who not too long ago directed the Helen Hayes Really helpful As soon as on This Island for Constellation Theatre Firm, received one of the best out of her gamers; Cleage’s written monologues had been fantastically performed by lots of the forged members.
I significantly cherished Asjah Johnson’s wonderful work as Miss Leah, a seasoned and smart girl who informed tales about life on the plantation, having infants, and particular components for apple pie. Johnson took her time with Cleage’s phrases. She additionally did an excellent job of being within the second as the opposite characters spoke.
Brielle Bertrand was fiery and defiant as Sophie Washington. With a rifle and a combating spirit, Sophie had a imaginative and prescient of remodeling Nicodemus, Kansas, right into a Black mecca. Bertrand had an excellent chemistry along with her scene mates. I loved Sophie’s account of how “Pap” Singleton, a former slave and organizer of the Exodus of 1879, persuaded roughly 26,000 African People to maneuver to Kansas and begin new lives as homesteaders. Sophie was considered one of many who had the gumption to maneuver West.
Minnie Dove, performed by freshman Cyan Williams, was a naive, younger poet, not too long ago again within the U.S. from Europe, whose declare to the land figured into the plot. Minnie had an intriguing story arc.
Frank Charles, a self-hating mulatto and Minnie’s husband, was performed by Xxavier Boone. Frank, having been disowned and minimize off financially by his white father, was obsessive about the “high greenback” he may make off his spouse’s land. His rants and raves had been powerfully scary; even his moments the place he tried to play good had a subtext of menace.
Amari Chambers introduced innocence to the author of the household, Fannie Dove. Chambers had many touching scenes with Justin Nembhard , who performed her suitor Wil Parrish.
The set was easy but good, consisting of a large a-frame and not-there instructed partitions. Set and Props Designer Kathryn Kawecki made good use of stage house.
Daybreak E. Belton’s hair and make-up included Boone’s scary, slicked-back, James Brown/Chuck Berry conk. She additionally did an exquisite job with numerous nineteenth c-entury girls’s hairstyles. The upstage display screen gave the viewers a practical moon and good solar, because of Lighting Designer Lorenzo Miguel.
Bowie State College’s Theater Arts program continues to supply excellent productions. Its pupil actors give every part they must the viewers. Lovers of nice storytelling dropped at life by nice directing ought to take on this present.
Working Time: Two hours, together with a 15-minute intermission
Flyin’ West performs at 2:30 pm and seven:30 pm on November 19, 2022, at Bowie State College’s Superb & Performing Arts Middle, Important Stage Theater, 14000 Jericho Park Street, Bowie, MD. Tickets ($5–$10) could be bought on-line.
COVID Security: BSU Theatre and the Division of Superb and Performing Arts require proof of vaccination or a detrimental PCR check for all viewers members attending. Please be aware that masks are advisable.
This system for Flyin’ West is on-line.
Flyin’ West by Pearl Cleage
Sophie Washington: Brielle Bertrand
Miss Leah: Asjah Johnson
Minnie Dove: Cyan Williams
Wil Parrish: Justin Nembhard
Frank Charles: Xxavier Boone
Fannie Dove: Amari Chambers
ARTISTIC AND CREATIVE TEAM
Director: Angelisa Gillyard
Assistant Director: Shannelle Ingram
Costumes: Imari Pyles
Sound Designer: Elena Velasco
Set and Props Designer: Kathryn Kawecki
Lighting Designer: Lorenzo Miguel
Hair and Make-up: Daybreak E. Belton
Producer: Elena Velasco