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January 26, 2004

Theater Arts Troupe performance highlights Black History Month events

By Louise Donahue

The family drama Ceremonies in Dark Old Men will be performed by the African American Theater Arts Troupe February 20-22, one of many UCSC events marking Black History Month.

Photo of cast

Ceremonies in Dark Old Men cast members posing in character at the Miracle Worker Barber Shop in Santa Cruz are, from left, Dane Diamond Erisson, Demetrius Greene, David Scott, Wes Adkins, and Rodney Ridgel. Photo: Chris Myers

"Ceremonies in Dark Old Men is a black American classic,” said Don Williams, director of the Theater Arts Troupe. The play was the first he directed when he founded the troupe 13 years ago, he noted.

Originally set in the 1960s, the UCSC performance will be set in the 1970s, but remains timely, said Williams. “This is reality. You go to any major city, and you see this lifestyle.” It was written in 1965 by prolific playwright and screenwriter Lonne Elder III, who was nominated for an Oscar for his adaptation of the classic children's story Sounder.

The drama centers on the relationship of a father, his two sons, and daughter. An injury prompts the father to set up a barbershop in the basement of his home to earn some money, and the daughter becomes the family breadwinner.

The African American Theater Arts Troupe is a student-based organization made up of artists from a variety of backgrounds and majors. Over the years, Williams said, the visibility of the program has grown and theater arts majors now dominate the cast. “This year is unique in that out of seven actors, six are theater arts majors,” he said.

The troupe was formed as a vehicle to create unity, higher visibility, and understanding of African American culture, encouraging the celebration of ethnic diversity and cultures at UCSC and in the larger community through both educational and creative outlets.

Through its productions and campus and community collaborations, the African American Theater Arts Troupe formed the African American Student Scholarship Fund at UCSC, giving out annual awards and providing more than $50,000 in scholarship funding since 1992.

Ceremonies in Dark Old Men will be performed at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, February 20 and 21, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, February 22, all at the UCSC Second Stage. General admission tickets are $11; senior citizen and student tickets are $7. Tickets are available from the UCSC Ticket Office, (831) 459-2159. Additional information on the production is available by contacting Williams at (831) 459-3409, or via e-mail.

Other Black History Month events—and others touching on related African American themes, include:

Lunchtime discussion: Getting an early start on the celebration is a brown-bag lunch discussion on January 29 featuring Joseph White, professor emeritus at UC Irvine and coauthor of Black Man Emerging: Facing the Past and Seizing a Future in America. The discussion, sponsored by the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Office, will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Bay Tree Conference Room D. The session is open to faculty and staff only; due to limited space, those wanting to join the discussion are asked to RSVP via e-mail to andream@ucsc.edu or (831) 459-5087.

Reading by Tricia Rose: Tricia Rose, professor of American studies, will read from her book, Longing to Tell: Black Women Talk About Sexuality and Intimacy, from 4 to 6 p.m. on February 2 at the Women’s Center.

Civil rights talk, Roots showing: Kresge College’s new Multicultural Education Committee is planning several events, all at the Kresge Town Hall. Kresge student Dana Montoro will make a presentation, “The Civil Rights Movement, Bringing the Past into the Present," at 7 p.m. on February 2. The television miniseries Roots will be shown in four parts, starting with February 4 at 8 p.m., then February 11 at 8 p.m., February 18 at 7 p.m., and February 25 at 7 p.m.

Colloquium series: Deborah Whaley, resident scholar at the Center for Cultural Studies, will speak from 12:25 to 1:30 p.m. on February 4 at the Oakes College Mural Room. The topic of her talk is "Disciplining Women, Respectable Pledges, and the Meaning of a “Soror”: Reconstituting the Cultural Politics of Violence in a Predominantly Black Sorority."

Film showing, College Night: Oakes College will show the film Cubamor, by UCSC alumnus Joshua Alafia in Oakes Room 105 at 7:30 p.m. on February 5. The showing is cosponsored by the African American Resource Center and the Chicano Latino Resource Center. On February 26, there will be an African American College Night in the Oakes/College Eight Dining Hall, from 5 to 7 p.m.

College Night: Porter College will hold a College Night celebrating African American influences in American cuisine on Tuesday, February 10, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Performances by the African American Theater Arts Troupe will be featured.

Additional events are being planned, and will be posted on the online Campus Calendar, http://events.ucsc.edu/calendar/, once details are confirmed.

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