Jan 28, 2011 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Born in Harlem, raised in Jamaica and having risen to the top of the entertainment world during the turbulent 1950s and ’60s, singer-actor Harry Belafonte remains a committed social activist at age 83.
Last week, he attended the Sundance Film Festival which screened a new biographical documentary, “Sing Your Song.”
While the title may suggest it’s about his music – including early hits such as “Banana Boat Song” a.k.a. “Day-O” – the film actually focuses on the work he did to advance civil rights in America and around the globe.
The movie’s title derives from what Paul Robeson told Belafonte when he was a young man: “Get them to sing your song, and they will know who you are.”
Asked by Reuters reporter Bob Tourtellotte what he believed his song was here in the eighth decade of his life, Belafonte said, “The same melody. It just needs to be sung again. What it needs are more voices of harmony. It’s a beautiful chord that everybody gets to sing in the same place at the same time with the same purpose. The song is the same: justice.”
Belafonte here Monday
Belafonte is booked to sing at 7 p.m. Monday Jan. 31 at Syracuse Stage, as the Syracuse Peace Council kicks off a year-long celebration of its 75th anniversary.
“We believe that Harry Belafonte’s reflections on his many decades of activism, including his work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will set the stage for an inspiring year of activity to support grassroots activism here in Central New York,” said Peace Council staffer Andy Mager
Ticket prices for Monday’s concert range from $15 to $1,000 and are available at the Peace Council office, ArtRage Gallery (505 Hawley Ave.), Famous Artists (241 West Fayette St.) and Syracuse Cultural Workers (400 Lodi St.); 472-5478 or peacecouncil.net.
Tough topic, pungent play!
If you’re like me, you’ll need extra convincing to get you to attend a live stage play about a guy dying of AIDS.
Last Friday, the Red House dragged me – whining and worrying – to the opening night of “Odysseus DOA,” a new play by Stephen Svoboda set in an Ithaca hospital ward.
All my whining and worrying was for naught.
Svoboda’s ambitious script deftly blends his lead character’s obsession with Greek tragedy with snappy streetwise dialogue delivered by dying patients, frustrated medical staffers and a couple of mothers – one solicitous and one bitter.
The one-act play, which clocks in at just less than two hours, moves swiftly as a stiff Mediterranean breeze buoyed by a bounty of humor to offset inevitable sad endings.
Like all great plays, however, what makes “Odysseus” work is Svoboda’s ability to create characters for which the audience actually cares and cares deeply.
Elliot, the new patient whose ability to talk is hampered by brain lesions, is played by John Bixler who skillfully segues from monosyllabic outbursts to eloquent fantasy speeches. His mother, Mrs. Hayes, is portrayed by Laura Austin, whose bravura performance encompasses emotions from giddiness to rage to tears.
Mrs. Hayes’ counterpart is Mrs. Collins (Binaifer Dabu), the angry mother of Adam (Adam Perabo) whose promiscuous lifestyle led to his affliction, though his imminent death fails to quell his capacity for love. Even the perfunctory doctor and nurse (Darian Sundberg and Kate Metroka) display human qualities with which we can all identify.
Most entertaining, however, are Elliot’s fellow patients. Maha McCain plays the spirited Maha, whose final wish is a meal at McDonald’s. Muscular Brett Davenport embodies the macho Nick, who blindly denies that he’s even infected. Best yet is Temar Underwood as Resean. His bosomy transvestite is quick with a ribald riposte at every turn, but also connects deeply with Elliot as she becomes Athena to his Odysseus.
Nathan Young appears in a late dream sequence as Elliot’s departed boyfriend, but Young makes the most of his small role, reminding us that – despite its dire circumstances – “Odysseus DOA” is more about love than death.
Go see this show!
“Odysseus DOA” continues at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27-29, at the Red House, 201 S. West St., on the outskirts of Armory Square. Tickets cost $25 or $20 for students and seniors; 425-0405.
The Red House cast and crew will take “Odysseus” to Manhattan March 16-20, to the Lion Theatre on 42nd Street. The play is a co-production of Red House and the Adirondack Center for the Arts at Blue Mountain Lake, where playwright Stephen Svoboda is the director.
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