Wednesday, May 31, 2006

OUT 50

Whats happening webfans. It is I Ma’atology one more time giving you the scoopy on what I been doing since the last time I e-scribed on my post. Well, let’s get like Marvin and get it on.
Last Friday, I checked out local writer/director. And actor David Conley’s flick, "Tapestry of Shadows" that was being shown Friday and Saturday at the Scottish Rite on Lindell. I was really excited to see this film because it was filmed here in the STL area and it had a positive message about the black community.

The following is my review of "Tapestry of Shadows"

"Tapestry" dealt with a local preacher who takes matters in his own hands to cleaning up the crime in his neighborhood after two youths are struck down innocently from gunfire.
Overall, "Tapestry." Which was based on the gospel play that Conley wrote and has toured in the South, was a noble effort. Although it played like a stageplay, with its long drawn scenes and didactic dialogue from its characters, its main characters especially Conley, Paris Crayton III as gang member and Johnnie Fernandez as the gun-toting mother keep[ the drama moving with their engaging performances.
Another interesting thing about Tapestry is its Pulp Fictionesque storytelling as the story is told non-linear and inductively (you would have to see a few more times to understand the chronology of the film). The innovative camera tricks (eg. The wife changing hairstyles as she’s running outside from her"seer"premonition of her husband also helps in keeping the story and scenes interesting.
"Tapestry" is definitely one of the local films to create a buzz on the new gosplotation genre films (along with artsy-para-gospel film, "Pieces of a Dream"). True, it has its major flaws with the pace of the film, but it definitely can be overlooked especially with what the film can do to create more of its kind.
The night I saw it, I wore a sky blue suit with a low cut white tee and sky blue sneaks (I was very much the sky. LOL) . The turnout was a decent crowd (about 300 or so) and as I was waiting for the film to start, I ran into my SIUE college buddy Jamal Isaac who I was shocked to see. We frat hugged and sat and talked for a minute. He told me about his life (He is divorced with a young child and was about to break up with the lady he was with that night. OOOPS)) thus far and that he worked with the ST. Louis City Fire Department.

He told me he found out about the film because David Conley’s; brother is a firefighter and Jamal knew his brother. He asked if I ran into any members of the organization, The Black Literary Guild, that we helped to form when he were students at SIUE. .Jamal said that he ran into Evette Bean, who was treasurer of BLG, a few years back when she got breast reduction surgery and ran into a relative of hers and asked if she was married and that the relative laughed and said that that was funny (I guess). I told Jamal I ran into Michelle Foster, who was the secretary, a few months ago (I must have conjured her up the following night—I will tell you about it in a few). As we were back and forthin’, David; brother introduced the cast and film and Jamal ran back up to his lady and his seat.(Oh, and my boy Christiaan Cofield was volunteering as the ticket person, too. )

Afterward, the cast greeted the crowd and I had the chance to say my niceties with Conley (who is very soft spoken,), but was shocking was when we shook hands, he bowed! I was not ready to be royalty right then and there even though I was lookin royal blue. LOL). I also gave dap to Crayton (who told me he was working ion a stageplay at Harris Stowe U in July) and Fernandez who was gracious and asked if I could tell people about the film. I also saw Freeman Bosley Junior Show personality Nicci Roach (Who was looking ni-I-I-I-ice) and gave her a hug as we talked about the film and what was up with her (She is about to get her Master’s in a couple of months—congrats). She also told me she was going out of town to sing at a prison (Whoa! You are non-stop!). As people were schmoozing, the second show of the film was about to begin.

For more info about "Tapestry of Shadows" go to MY LAST BLOG POSTED HERE OUT 49

Saturday, I went to the gym at Ballys in Clayton and worked on whatever I was working on, got my protein bars and drove to Forest Park for the annual African Arts Festival at the Pavilion. I got there about 3ish and it was steaming hot outside (SO hot, dark black people even got tans!) The first thing I noticed when I walked up the 100s of steps was the crowd was sparse, I walked around the food court and they had maybe four food booths (One was Fatima’s which is a Nigerian-based catering company, whos owner, Fatima’s had a restaurant on Delmar but closed down unfortunately) that was scaled down (I got the spicy rice and beef which was off the chain—you can contact her at 314-725-1363 or 314-363-5968 and they will hook you up on the catering).

I walked around to the performance stage where local poet and event coordinator David A.N. Jackson was holding it down for the mainstage. When I got there, there was a dredhead kettle drum player who was trying to sing but he sounded like he was tired. After him, local gospel singer and Unity Theater actor Herman Gordon and Friends performed and TOE IT UP. They really got the crowd hyped (including the sista shown on my blog above with the lime green sweet suit). They sang gospel faves like Donnie McClurkin;s "Stand" and the standard, "Jesus He Will Fix it."

As they were singing, they had the traditional African Big Man stilt walkers and renown jali drummer Sylvester "Sunshine:" Lee and his crew drumming beside the Big Man walkers. It is always a treat to see this cause it is the spiritual backbone of the festival and everyone is so fascinated by this spectacle. I text my girl Tiffany Blackmore to see if she was still able to go see "Dreamgirls" at the Black Rep that night and she said she could. Around 5ish, I jetted so I could get ready to go to see "Dreamgirls" and shower the heat from my skin!
Later that night, I met up with Tiffani )who was rockin a Lauryn Hill circa 2002 Afro/ dread. I had put on a "smedium" butterfly short sleeve brown shirt with a makeshift necklace made out of paperclips, and some faded loose jeans.

So, I walked up with Tiffani into the Grandel Square Theatre, I looked around and saw that it was swimming with people. I looked around hoping to see Black Rep PR ‘s Karla Goldstein and didn’t see her who usually has my press kit and tickets waiting for me. I then saw Exec Director Rudy Nickens and shook his hand. He told me that my press kit was at a table nearby and to enjoy the show. So one of the sistas at the table gave me my press kit with tickets and Tiff and I proceeded into the theater.

WE got our seats (which was on the stage right instead of the usual centerstage but I was not complaining. ). The curtain call was about 8: 10 and they began the show
The following is my review of "Dreamgirls":

The Dream was Alive and Well with ‘Girls’ at Black Rep

The Black Rep ends its 29th mainstgage season with the long awaited musical, Michael Bennett’s "Dreamgirls." The production, which will run at the Black Rep until July 2 at the Grandel Theatre, tells the story of the rags to riches tale of three young girls from Chicago, Effie (played brilliantly by Willena Vaughn), Deena Jones (played by Jia Taylor) and Lorell (played by Malkia Stampley) and discovers the pitfalls of fame.

The two and half hour musical is definitely a must see for those whop arer fans of this musical (and the long awaiting film starring Beyonce in December ). From the glam gowns, three-tiered Broadway styled stage and toe-tapping soul numbers, "Dreamgirls" is not only entertaining, but it gives a great history lesson of how R&B music was compromised (via white influence) in order for it to be spoonfed easier to white America.

As far as the performances, the main cast has its moments, but the standout is Black rep newcomer Willena Vaughn, who plays the Tony Award winning part of Effie, played famously by Jennifer Holliday. Her rendition, which was refreshingly not like Holliday;s but Holliday influenced, , of the show stopping, "And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going" during Effie’s exodus out the group, is spine chilling and rousing (I would go see the play just to see her perform the song). She is a definite shoo-in to win the Woody Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical at this year’s Woody Awards bar none

Other noteworthy performances were Black Rep newbie Jahi Parker who plays the flamboyant R&B singer Jimmy. His loose and limber comedy is definitely entertaining (His pants dropping is a classic moment in the show) and J, Samuel Davis and the crooked manager Curtis. Although Davis’ performance is a little reserved and mailed in, he hold it up when his vulnerable side is shown as he sings "You Are My Dream" to Taylor’s Deena’s character when she decided to leave the group.

The Black Rep could not go wrong with "Dreamgirls" because like its season opener, "Caroline or Change" in January, it is a Broadway classic and the only way it could be done wrong is if the cast does it wrong—and that is definitely not a case, I enjoyed this production tremendously. A little long, but it is worth your money to check ioy out and compare it to the upcoming film in December.

For more info on tickets call 314-534-3810. Be aware that date June 3, 17, 24 and July 1 are SOLD OUT.

FYI, during intermission, I talked with Michelle Foster, the sista that I talked about to Jamal at the "Tapestry:" film at Scottish Rite and I saw her at the Balck Rep (how wild is that)_. She introduced me to her husband who said that I looked familiar and that didi I go to Bally’s. I said Yes. He seemed relieved and I continued talking with Mcihelel and told her that I ran into Jamal the previous night. She seemed schamred (He had a crush on her in college and she knew it). And, who was the tranny who was there in the Toni Braxtion,’He Wasn’t Man Enough" hoochie dress at the Black Rep?

Then, I walked Tiffani to her car and she gave me a very funny rundown of her life and I told her that she needed to do an open mic for comedians. She thought about it. She reminds me of Whoopi Goldberg and Caroline Rhea put together as far as her delivery of talking funny about life. She is definitely talented.

Last Sunday, I played photographer to my girl Jewelanda Hodges’ son, Blake Harris’s (seen posing with cake) graduation /BBQ party at her house in the Central West End. She asked me if I could take some shots for her son who graduated from high school and is preparing to go to Mizzou next week. Blake’s fam was on one said and his friends was on the other side . Both sets were under tents as they talk, ate and drank. It was a diverse crowd:white, black, and all in between, mainly because of Blake’;s partioviaption in the Jewish –Black relation diversity Program he was a part of where both ethnic groups shared each other’s culture.

In the house was Chrys Yvette, who is Blake’s second cousin (Jewelanda’s first cousin). She is a mover and shaker in Hollywood who put on her play, "A Woman’s Worth:" in the STL last summer starring singer Anne Nesby and actor Dorrien Wilson (She told me she was doing a film in the STL in August and was going to give me the skinny on auditions so I will keep you posted for those who may want to try out) .. Also in the house was Blake’s father, Thomas, who is a screenwriter who wrote, "Every Dog Has His Day" that was turned into a stageplay and put on my Jewelanda in 2003 at Florissant Civic Center and in 2004 at Harris Stowe wherr I was both stage managers for.

I stayed over at the BBQ from 5 ish to 8 ish and afterward I rushed over to The Network Group and poet Chill Da Playa’s "Cometry" (Comedy and Poetry) show at Missouri History Museum..When I got therr, I opened up my trunk and got my dressy shirt and sandal shoes and changed in the car so I could look at least presentable (Talk about Clark Kent-Superman change!)

As I walked to the museum, I saw someone’s lights on their Lexus were on. So, I jotted down the license plate and therr I saw that they had several booths in the lobby like Knowledge Tees, Ujamaa and T-Mobile .One of the survey sistas from the Network Group gave me s survey to fill out and I obliged (Even though I hate doing surveys which means I’m going to get something in the mail or email_) . But she was nice and pretty sexy so that helped. I asked the sista where was Duane Bess, the overseer of the Network Group and she motioned me to him.

We greeted each other and he got me a comp ticket for the show.. I saw that Chill Da Playa’s wife, Stephanie was the ticket person and I smiled at her and she said to me that its been a while since she saw me (And she’s right. I haven’t done poetry for real in 4 years). So I was led into the theater and saw Jamie Spencer therr (who was one of the ushers –not project coordinator that he told me when I saw him at work at AG Edwards—DOH)

I sat near the front and saw Rochelle "Coco Soul" Walker (to whom I said, :"I saw you [in Dreamgirls" last nite and did a thumbs up at her) with St. Louis Post Dispatch Pop Critic Kevin Johnson. Singing was this Justin Timberlake singer named Javon )I think). He sang like Justin too (He even walked down the isles singing to the ladies and they loved him!) The comedians who performed were STL’s Eric Rivers (who I saw at the Spot before who sings his "Chinaman:" song), Bad Boy of Comedy./Comic View comic Shawn Morgan (Seen above on my blog—who killed with that "turtleneck condom" joke), and poets Chi-towns’ UGLY (he was off the chain especially with his double entendre poem, Death by 35 MM), and STL’s Sherrod (who is like a Stacy Ann Chin poetess who said that the only thing that cute will get you is fukked—WHOA). It was hosted by Maurice Minor aka Invisible Man (Who are pretty good as host and funny as well). Cometry co-organizer Chill da Playa intro’d Invisible Man. The Network Group also did a commercial of sorts asking people to give to Sickle Cell and to do their part in the Stem Cell Bill that is on the November ballot.

It was over at about 11ish and I jetted. I was about to go the Loft on Olive but didn’t feel like it. I decided to be daring and decided to go to the Complex and check out a drag pageant—just for the hell of it. It was entertaining and to see men in drag as women was fascinating to me (One of the drag queen’s tits even came out of her dress while she was performing a Karen Clark Sheard song which was a Kodak moment). I stayed therr till about 2:30 and went to the crib.

On Memorial Day, I went to the gym and left therr about 4pm and drove back to the African Arts Festival. On the mainstage were belly dancing troupe Oasis Dance and spoken word by this sista named Blu who performed with a guitar and sounded like Yoko Ono meets Tracy Chapman. But the highlight was Cometry host Invisible Man who performed this great piece by Amri Baraka that was about 10 minutes long about our black heroes and sheroes. It was definitely a standing ovation performance (I was also glad that he had no shame to read his work ON THE PAGE cause he said he promotes literacy —Kudos to ya on that!) . There, I ran into Oneness, a deep sista who just came back from France wherr she studied French, She was the sista who I cast in my pre-production, "Three Ways To Lovve" (also starring Keith Underwood who co-wrote the play with me). I told her I was about to re-light that play and wanted to cast her again in it. She gave me her contact info and this sista is very ethnic and regal with short hair and model like features. She is also a helluva actress and inspiring for me to do this play. Thank you for my seeing you again!.

MA’ATIDBITZ. This week two shows that I participated In the audience, "Last Comic Standing" and the "Gameshow Marathon" (That I talked about on my blogs of my trip to Los Angeles) debuted this past Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. The episode of Last Comic Standing that you may see me on will be next Tuesday , at 8 p.m. CST on NBC (I have a gioid shot to be seen cause I was sitting7 behind celebrities actor/comedian Tim Meadows, comedienne Kathi Griffin and TV veteran producer Gary Marshall ) . As far as the Gameshow Marathon, it airs Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on CBS and I was in the audience of the reincarnation of The Match Game (I’m sure they won’t show the blooper when host Ricki Lake said "shit" LOL) I don’t know when they will air that one, but it should be shown soon (You might not can see me on there cause I SAT WAYYYYYYY in the back of the studio).
I will have event tidbitz next week.

If you have anything for me to pub, give me an e-holla at!

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