By Anne E. O’Keefe
Rockford Area Arts Council
Dorothy Paige-Turner received grant funds from the Rockford Area Arts Council in 2014 that sparked the Readers’ Theater and since then, the partnership has grown to include Rockford Urban Ministries and Just Goods Fair Trade Store.
Performances are held at the Just Goods Listening Room, 201 7th St., second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. October-to-May. Freewill offerings go directly to the actors.
May 9 is the finale for this season and will feature a scene from a play by Nathan Davis. Davis is a Rockford native, and a Julliard Fellowship recipient, with an MFA from Indiana University and BFA from University of Illinois. Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea will be performed by his father, George Davis and local actor, David Causey.
It received the Lorraine Hansberry Award in 2014 and in 2015 the Rolling World Premiere and was awarded a Steinberg/ATCA New Play Citation. The main character, Dontrell, decides that it’s his duty and destiny to venture into the Atlantic Ocean in search of an ancestor lost during the Middle Passage. It’s a present-day hero’s quest exploring the lengths and depths we must go through to redeem history’s wrongs.
Another work by Davis, The Wind and the Breeze, had a staged reading on April 10 at the Greenhouse Theater Center in Chicago. The Wind and the Breeze, which is set in Rockford, was named winner of the 2016 Blue Ink Playwriting Award.
“Some of Rockford’s most talented actors perform scenes and monologues by African American playwrights and by those of other cultures as well. Each month, the Players showcase the works of at least ten playwrights who range from those well known to theatre audiences and some who are lesser known,” said Paige-Turner.
Jenniel Wright will perform Lightning, But No Rain, the story of Theresa Allison, founder of Mothers Reclaiming Our Children (Mothers ROC) who is also the mother of gang truce architect Dewayne Holmes. The piece is from Anna Deveare Smith’s Twilight, Los Angeles, a stunning work of documentary theater in which she uses the verbatim words of people and their experiences to expose and explore the devastating human impact of those events.
Other players include Rebecca James as Celie from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Climmie Durr from Winsome Pinnock’s A Rock in Water, LuGina Horton as an African Queen from Gold Through the Trees by Alice Childress and Elbert James who will showcase the work or Richard Wesley’s The Black Terror. Also to be presented are; The Gospel at Colonus by Lee Breuer, Fires in the Mirror by Anna Deveare Smith and The Hour Glass by Robert Alexander.
While Paige-Turner’s formal teaching career spanned 34 years as a music teacher for RPS, she continues to teach not only the youth of our community with programs like Council Choraleers, which she donates her time to direct, but equally important, she is bringing the voice of African American writers to our community.