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Turon Kofi Alleyne in PBS’ “Slavery By Another Name”

One of the frequently asked questions posed to the acting company of Lincoln Center Institute’s FLY was, “How familiar were you with the story of the Tuskegee Airmen before working on this play?” The Airmen’s story was unfamiliar to a lot of our audiences as well as to most of our company, and we’d like to think we moved their story even just a little bit further into public awareness. Turron Kofi Alleyne, who played WW, would answer the question directly and honestly, along the lines of: “I didn’t, but now I do, and I’m humbled by the opportunity.”

Turron is appearing tonight in a documentary that sheds some light on another part of history that’s not very well known: what happened to thousands of black freedmen in the Reconstruction-era South. Laws were passed that made it very easy to send a black man off to prison; sometimes for doing nothing more than standing on a street corner, minding his own business, if he could not prove he was employed. As you read this in 2012, you would think I’m making it up. I am not.

Slavery By Another Name” premieres tonight on PBS at 9pm EST (check your local listings). Recently I was able to ask Turron a few questions about the film, and I share those in brief with you here.

(Note: I want to be clear that I am essentially paraphrasing — these are not direct word-for-every-single-word quotes — as I wrote while we were talking. Any misstatements are mine and not Turron’s.)

Peg: “Turron, who is your character?

Turron: I play a man named John Davis, who was a real person. He was a farmer in Alabama who was wrongly accused of owing someone, a white man, some money. He was forced to work off his alleged debt by working on the man’s farm. His initial contracted time was for ten months, but he ended up having to stay for longer than that, for upwards to perhaps two years.

Peg: Can you share with us something that you learned, or something that happened during filming, that has stayed with you since?

Turron: The whole process reminded me that we are not taught the fullness of history. Stories like this are not in the schoolbooks or our history classes. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable when it comes to history, particularly black history, and yet I knew nothing about this. It’s hard to find the word to describe it overall; I would say it was humbling to have this firsthand experience, even just as an actor, of what my people went through.

I was in shackles on-set for part of filming. Let me tell you, they hurt. I cannot describe how much they hurt. During filming, I was asked several times if I wanted to stop and get out of them for a little bit, but I said no. People had to wear them their whole lives, so I told myself I could put up with it for an hour. We have all seen pictures of horrific things, and while you never grow to accept them, you do grow accustomed to them in a certain sense; they don’t move you in quite as deep a way. But now after having had that physical experience, I feel a deeper reaction when I see those kinds of pictures than I ever did before.”


For an eye-opening account of our collective American history, as told by gifted director Sam Pollard, tune in tonight: 9pm EST on PBS. For more Peg’s List posts featuring Turron Kofi Alleyne, follow this link.  For more Peg’s List posts on FLY, follow this link.


Win Tickets to See Guy Davis in “The Adventures of Fishy Waters”

You’ve seen him play various venues here at Lincoln Center (including, of course, Lincoln Center Institute’s Clark Studio Theater).  You saw him in the recent Broadway revival of Finian’s Rainbow. But have you seen his one-man show?

“The Adventures of Fishy Waters,” written and performed by Guy Davis and directed by Ricardo Khan, will start previews on February 16 and run through February 26 at Crossroads Theatre Company in New Brunswick, NJ.  Tickets are on sale now and you can purchase them by visiting Crossroads’ web site, OR… you can try your luck at winning tickets by entering the contest at Crossroads’ Facebook page.  Make up a good blues song title, share it on their page, and you could win two tickets to see the show.  Contest ends February 10, so you’d better Step It Up And Go!  (Don’t use that one… it’s already taken.)

Like Crossroads on Facebook

Follow Crossroads on Twitter

For more Peg’s List posts on Guy Davis, follow this link. For the adventures of Crossroads Theatre Company as discussed on Peg’s List, follow this link.

Visual Artist Barbara Ellmann’s work in TEXTILITY

On several occasions, Lincoln Center Institute partners have studied the work of celebrated visual artist (and LCI teaching artist) Barbara Ellmann.  If you ride the J train, you have probably passed her work any number of times, admired it, but not known the installation of faceted-glass, entitled The View From Here at Van Siclen Avenue, was hers.  (And now you do, so keep an eye out next time!)

Her latest exhibition is part of a collective endeavor.  From January 13 through April 1, 2012,   The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is holding an exhibition called Textility.  According to the Center, the exhibit “explores the diversity of textile influence on contemporary art at the moment, asking, ‘How and why are artists doing this, and why now?’ ”  Barbara’s encaustic work entitled WHEREWITHAL is on display:

Barbara Ellmann, WHEREWITHAL, 2011.  Encaustic on twelve wooden panels.
102 x 76 inches overall.  Courtesy of the artist; photo by Peter Chin.

(Follow this link for further definition and more information on encaustic work.  To read more Peg’s List posts related to the visual arts, follow this link.)

Breaking: The Klezmatics on Conan O’Brien TONIGHT!

Want to catch Frank London on the teevee?  Tune in to the Conan O’Brien show tonight (11pm EST on TBS) when the Klezmatics show house band The Basic Cable Band how it’s done.

Conan O’Brien show site

The Klezmatics web site

Like the Klezmatics on Facebook

Like Lincoln Center Institute on Facebook, for that matter

(For more Peg’s List posts related to Frank London, follow this link.)


Give ’em a buck or two and they’ll sing and dance for you…

Parallel Exit Physical Comedy Theatre is still headed for the IPAY Showcase in Austin, TX, and their kickstarter campaign is active through December 30.  They haven’t quite reached their goal, so I’ve taken the liberty of upping the ante just a little bit.  Throw them support in any amount and they’ll perform for you live via this pre-recorded youtube video:


— Okay, so you can watch the video for free just by clicking on it.  See how nice I am?  Now will you maybe consider sending them a few bucks?  Audiences around the world will thank you.

P.S. to you email subscribers… I’ll even make it snow on-blog if you click through.  — Okay, so that’s happening anyway because it’s that time of year.  Can’t blame a girl for trying.

For more Peg’s List posts on Parallel Exit and/or their work with Lincoln Center Institute, follow this link.


Listen: August Wilson’s ‘The Piano Lesson’ broadcast on BBC Radio

If this weren’t time sensitive I probably would have hung onto it a little longer, so as to space out my blog posts a little more evenly. BUT… there are only five days remaining for you to listen online, so I had to get the word out right away.

August Wilson’s inspiration:  “The Piano Lesson,” Romare Bearden, 1983.  Collage of various papers with paint, ink, and graphite on paper.  Copyright Romare Bearden Foundation.  Featured in the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition “The Art of Romare Bearden,” 2003-2004.

August Wilson’s (second) Pulitzer Prize-winning play was specially recorded for radio broadcast by the BBC for its BBC3 radio station.   It was broadcast on Sunday, November 27, 2011.  You can follow this link to listen online for five more days from today.

The play, set in 1930s Pittsburgh, tells the story of the Sutter family (brother Boy Willie and sister Berniece), and their ongoing disagreement over whether to sell their family’s heirloom piano.  (Fans of the play will kindly forgive that oversimplified description.)  The Piano Lesson  features the following cast (virtually all of whom have performed in one or more of Wilson’s plays on Broadway, and a good number having originated their roles on Broadway):

Boy Willie…John Earl Jelks
Berniece…Roslyn Ruff
Doaker…Stephen McKinley Henderson
Lymon…Chris Chalk
Wining Boy…Anthony Chisholm
Grace…Marsha Stephanie Blake
Avery…Leland Gantt
Maretha…Zadshire Dupuis

As all good Peg’s List posts are, this item is related to the Lincoln Center Institute repertory family by way of the following two participants: the play was recorded at Crossroads Theatre Company in New Brunswick, NJ (who produced FLY in the fall of 2009), and the artistic consultant for the project was none other than Ricardo Khan (developer, co-author and director of FLY).

For more Peg’s List posts related to LCI’s production of FLY, follow this link.


Elspeth Murray and The Bute Mazer

Puppet State Theatre Company is back in residence at the Clark Studio Theater for the next few weeks with their production The Man Who Planted Trees.  The show is performed by Richard Medrington and Rick Conte, but there is another member of the group who, while she does not appear onstage, is nonetheless integral to the show you see and love.  That someone is PSTC’s Very General Manager, Elspeth Murray, and she is an artist and poet in her own right.

The National Museum of Scotland knows this very well, even if most of our audiences don’t.  Their new exhibition, 26 Treasures, features 62-word descriptive essays about 26 of the Museum’s historically important treasures, written by members of the writers’ collective “26.”  Similar programs are being held at the National Library of Wales and the Ulster Museum in Northern Ireland.  Items from each museum’s collection range from the famous to the obscure, and the mundane to the ornate.  Elspeth chose to write 12 5-word haiku, with the 2 word title of her work bringing her to the 62-word requirement.  Her assigned treasure?  The Bute Mazer.

Head over to the Creation Stories of the 26 Treasures exhibit’s web site to learn more about Elspeth’s creative process and what inspired her to write what  she did (as well as the manner in which she chose).  A copy of Elspeth’s work and a photo of the art object that inspired it can be found if you follow this link (choose the download from the right hand column).  And if you come to the Clark to see The Man Who Planted Trees with your students or fellow classmates, give a wave up to the booth.  There’s another artist up there, too.

(To learn more about Lincoln Center Institute’s work around The Man Who Planted Trees, follow this link to our web site.  To read more Peg’s List entries about the show or the company, follow this link.  And check out the new Puppet State Theatre Company website while you’re at it.)