African-American historical figures showcased in festival
LINDA ARMSTRONG Special to the AmNews | 2/24/2012, 8:49 p.m.
The lives of a few of our most important historical African-American figures-- A. Philip Randolph, Zora Neal Hurston, Adam clayton Powell Jr. and Rep. Barbara Jordan--are the subject of the black History Month Play Festival, presented by Woodie King Jr.'s, National black Touring circuit.
Thanks to the festival, each person received a weekend dedicated to a play about their lives.
Randolph began the festival; Hurston was performed during the second weekend and Powell this past week- end.
A discussion with the audience took place after each show. A one-man show called "Adam," written by Peter DeAnda, directed by Shauneille Perry and starring Timothy Simonson (who won the Audelco for his portrayal in 1983), played at the Dwyer cultural center, located at 258 St. Nicholas Ave.
The play shared the words and thoughts of Powell. It was set in bimini, the House of Representatives and Abyssinian Baptist church. Simonson recently took the time to talk to AmNews about the play. A Q&A follows.
AmNews: What attracted you to this role?
TS: Originally, i heard that they were doing a reading of the play "The Trial of Adam clayton Powell" at Frank Silvera's Writers Workshop. i mentioned in passing that i could read for the part of Adam and got the part. Woodie King approached me later to do the one-man show.
AmNews: Why is it important that plays like this are performed?
TS: Young people today do not have a sense of history or community. They're interested in the here and now. it is important for them to know that if it were not for men like Adam clayton Powell, President Obama would not be in the White House.
AmNews: What is the biggest challenge in performing a play about a real person?
TS: The biggest challenge is in doing the research. it is an actor's responsibility to bring authenticity to the role. I spent countless hours at the Schomburg Research center studying Adam.
AmNews: What impressed you the most about the life of Adam clayton Powell Jr., the man and the politician?
TS: Adam the man was not a hypocrite. He spoke frankly about his strengths and weaknesses. As a politician, he held strongly to his convictions and never abandoned them to save his political career.
AmNews: How do you think he felt about the Harlem community?
TS: He was called to serve his community as a man and as the pastor of his church. People came to him for help and he did whatever he could do to help his people through the strength of his position as a minister and a man. He was a very compassionate man.
This weekend, the final, which takes, place Feb. 24-26 at the National black Theatre, 2031 Fifth Ave. It will star Toni Seawright and was written by celeste bedford Walker. While you may have missed the other plays in the series, try to support this final piece.
Black History Month Play Festival performances take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20. For more information, call (212) 279-4200.