Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, last weekend the Robey Theatre Company presented a two-day festival celebrating Paul Robeson, actor, activist, singer, athlete and star of stage and screen. On Saturday afternoon 13 one-act plays about Robeson, his inspirational life and activities premiered. Sadly, I was only able to cover the first four:
In The Agreement by Kurt D. Maxey, directed by Dylan Southard, a stern Shon Fuller (Robeson) confronts a troubled Anthony Pellegrino (President Truman) over his excuses for racism. In Plantin’ by George Corbin, directed by Robert Clements, three black grave-diggers (firebrand Julio Hanson, calming Alex Morris and grief-stricken Dorian Christian Baucum), in a post Civil War graveyard, discover that white bones can belong to any race.
In the hilarious Ionesco-inspired H.U.A.C. by Alicia Tyler, also directed by Southard, Robeson (Odell Ruffin) is dragged before a looney judge (Pellegrino), interrogated by a pompous ass (Ian Forester), and defended by a ditzy glamour gal (Lisa Renee). In Miss Pauline by Cornell Hubert Calhoun III, directed by Dwain A. Perry, Robeson’s teenage niece (Dashira George), over the protests of her concerned mother (Camille Lourde Wyatt), a cautious uncle (Marvin Gay) and fierce neighbor (Carl Crudup), fearlessly takes up the battle for civil rights.
There was a staged reading of a new full-length play, Paul Robeson in Berlin, written by Robert Coles and Bartley McSwine, and directed by Robey artistic director Ben Guillory. Also screenings of Paul Robeson films including The Emperor Jones. Exhibits pertaining to Robeson, as well as displays of memorabilia and a puppet show, were in the Grand Lobby. All performances were presented in the Tom Bradley Theatre at Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles.
For information go to www.robeytheatrecompany.org