Paul Robeson Company brings back 1990 play this weekend and next:
In rehearsal playwright/director Jackie Warren-Moore is both unfailing courteous with her cast and unfailing clear that she is the director. One evening last week she sat before the stage in the Dee-Davis Black Box Theater with an open script in her lap.
"I need more register from you on that line," she said to one intently, stopping him. "Please take your voice down. We need to hear every word out here. Let me have that line again. Thank you."
A few minutes later she stops the understudy, who's reading the lines of Nyree, the play's only woman.
"Now, you've just realized how mad you really are, so here's where you take it up. Please try that again."
Opening this Friday night as a Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company production, Warren-Moore's play returns to the stage after a hiatus of 18 years. Happily, two of the original cast reprise their roles. As Mike Warren, Shaheed Shakir is grayer now, but his deep, rolling voice is still perfect for the Vietnam era veteran whose hypervigilance fits the rough corner his bar occupies as much as it did his tree-top sniper post. Nasheed Shakir returns as Jack, in a razor sharp portrayal of a man still yearning for the dad who left him at age four. It's early afternoon on Father's Day at Adopue, the bar Mike Warren has named for the traditional African concept of the supportive work group for men. Young Scott (Damon Barrino, Sr.) has been up all night through his wife's labor and has a new daughter. Cool Breeze (LaMar Middleton) has kids all over town, can't take anything seriously. Robert (Lonnie Johnson) is older, wiser. Bill (Robert Betsey) doesn't know he's about to lose the son meant for college to bad company. Sax (Wilson Price) is a mystery man Mike Warren has figured out. Nyree (Florence Williams) is the only woman onstage, delivering a call to community. Three younger men make cameo appearances. There's birth, death and fatherhood in all its forms.