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Vanessa Williams and Blair Underwood Join Cicely Tyson in “The Trip to Bountiful”

cicely tyson

24TRIPjp2-popupVanessa Williams and Blair Underwood will join Cicely Tyson in the critically acclaimed, Tony-nominated Broadway revival of Horton Foote’s American masterpiece “The Trip to Bountiful,” which will be presented in the exclusive Center Theatre Group engagement at the Ahmanson Theatre, September 17 through November 2, 2014. The opening is set for September 26.

Tyson and Williams appeared together in the 2013 Broadway production of “The Trip to Bountiful,” while Tyson, Williams and Underwood all starred in the Lifetime TV version that aired in March.

Directed by Michael Wilson, “The Trip to Bountiful” tells the story of Mother Watts, played by Tyson. She is an elderly woman forced to live with her overprotective son, played by Underwood, and domineering daughter-in-law (Williams). Mother Watts’ dream is to return for one last time to her small hometown of Bountiful, Texas. Her journey becomes a heartbreaking but ultimately life-affirming and inspiring tale that examines the fragility of memory and celebrates the enduring power of hope, faith and family.

Tyson, who received an Academy Award nomination for “Sounder” and two Emmy Awards for “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” returned to Broadway in 2013 for the first time in over 30 years to star in “The Trip to Bountiful.” She received every major theatrical award including the Tony Award for Best Actress, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for her tour-de-force performance as Carrie Watts. Vanessa Williams, one of the most multi-faceted performers in entertainment today, has achieved critical acclaim as an actress on stage, in film and on television, and she has sold millions of albums worldwide. In addition to “The Trip to Bountiful,” in which her performance Vanessa Williams and Blair Underwood Set for “The Trip to Bountiful” at Ahmanson as the bossy daughter-in-law was called “wickedly funny” by Entertainment Weekly, Williams’ other stage credits include Broadway’s “After Midnight,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Into the Woods” (for which she received a Tony Award nomination) and “Sondheim on Sondheim,” as well as “St. Louis Woman” for City Center’s Encores! As a recording artist, she has garnered 11 Grammy nominations, and she is also known for her three-time Emmy-nominated performance as Wilhelmina Slater in “Ugly Betty” and for her performance as Renee Perry in “Desperate Housewives.”

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Award-winning actor, director and producer Blair Underwood, who will appear as Othello at The Old Globe in San Diego this summer, is equally at home in the worlds of theatre, film and television. He made his Broadway debut as Stanley in “A Streetcar Named Desire” for which he received a 2012 Drama League Distinguished Performance Award nomination. His many film and TV credits include “Just Cause,” “Deep Impact,” “Something New,” “The Event,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “Sex and the City,” “In Treatment” (Golden Globe nomination) and “L.A. Law” (Golden Globe nomination), among many others. He is a Grammy Award-winner for the audiobook of “An Inconvenient Truth.” He made his feature directorial debut with “Bridge to Nowhere.”

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“The Trip to Bountiful” was lauded as one of the most distinguished productions on Broadway in 2013. Terry Teachout of the The Wall Street Journal said, “I’ve never been more deeply moved by a theatrical production of any kind. ‘The Trip to Bountiful’ is without flaw!” While Ben Brantley of The New York Times said, “Book the next bus to Bountiful! Cicely Tyson is remarkable.” David Cote from Time Out NY called the show “Soul-stirring and flawless. ‘The Trip to Bountiful’ seems as fresh and vibrant as the day Horton Foote finished it.”

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“The Trip to Bountiful” is the first production in the CTG/Ahmanson Theatre’s 2014-2015 season. Tickets for the season are currently available by subscription only. For information and to charge season tickets by phone, call the Exclusive Season Ticket Hotline at (213) 972-4444.
To purchase subscriptions online, visit CenterTheatreGroup.org/Ahmanson. For information regarding audio description and Project D.A.T.E. (sign language interpreted, open caption and audio description performances) call TDD (213) 680-4017 or voice (213) 972-4444.

Bountiful Cast

Abused Women: Why They Stay, Why They Leave

Ray Rice and Janay Rice

Ray Rice and Janay Rice

By Jameelah Medina, PhD

We have all heard about (former) NFL player, Ray Rice, receiving a 2-game suspension for a domestic altercation with his former fiancée. Janay Rice, who is now his wife, explained that she was partially at fault for the violence that led to being unconscious in an elevator; however, most did not know the extent of the violence. We all know that it takes a serious amount of force to render someone unconscious, but the recent release of the entire surveillance video showing how she lost consciousness set off a storm. In short, the video shows Mr. Rice reaching for her before they enter the elevator. Once in the elevator, he strikes her. She responds by pushing him, and he hits her again hard enough to knock her to the floor. On her way down, her head hits a handle bar in the elevator. Once on the floor, she does not move; she is unconscious. He is forced to drag her seemingly lifeless body from the elevator and out of the building.

While many were appalled at his violent actions, many chose to focus on  Mrs. Rice. They asked questions like, “Why did she stay with him?” “How could she marry him?” “Why would she lie for him?” “How could she sit at that press conference and support him so publicly?” While it is very easy to judge an abused woman, her behavior and choices; it is actually better to try to understand the psychological nature of abuse and the psychology of the abused and battered.

Relationships hardly ever start out abusive. There is a process of breaking in and breaking down a victim. This process involves possessiveness, isolation, verbal and emotional abuse, and other tactics. Women who have experienced physical, emotional, sexual or other forms of abuse as girls are at greater risk for entering into an abusive relationship. For many, become accustomed to seeing violence as a way in which love is shown. Others may have low self-esteem in general or at least when it comes to romantic relationships. While others see potential in the abuser and believe that they can help the abuser change.

Many women, especially in the African American community, also have an aversion to involving the authorities in domestic disputes; they would rather take the abuse than offer their abusive partner up to the criminal justice system. Within the African American community, there is also the stigma of being seen as weak and the stereotype of “the strong, black woman.” This often keeps African American women silent about the abuse they suffer.

Over 85 percent of domestic violence (DV) or intimate partner violence (IPV) is against women, and one in every three women will experience IPV in her lifetime. More than 33% of teenage girls already report experiencing violence in a dating relationship. Abused women are often killed by their abusive partners, and the most dangerous time is when she is leaving or has just left the relationship. Roughly 72% of all murder-suicides are the result of IPV. It also takes roughly 7-8 attempts at leaving before the woman leave for the final time. Many often wonder why these women stay and judge them harshly for doing so. Just because a woman stays with her abuser does not mean that she does not want to end the abuse or leave the relationship. Most times, she has carefully weighed her options and the safest one is remaining where she is. She may remain in hopes of changing the abuser or simply to buy herself more time to plan a safe exit. Most people think of leaving as a one-time event. However, leaving an abusive relationship is a process. Once a woman is committed to leaving the relationship, it may take her months or even years before the process is finalized. And, until the very end, she runs the risk of losing her life to the abuser. If there are children involved, the leaving process is further complicated.

I do not particularly care for the NFL nor do I think they deserve applause for ending Ray Rice’s contract. However, I believe that this case represents an excellent time for our community to openly and honestly discuss DV and IPV, especially with our pre-teen and teen population.

 

Ferguson: A Painful Reminder of Black Angst and Anger

Hakim Hazim

Hakim Hazim

By Hakim Hazim  

People call us loud and rightfully so. History teaches us that we must seize the opportunity to channel national attention toward the injustices we face. We are a loud people with voices that carry and at times we get caught in the emotion and don’t demonstrate proper restraint (I’m not talking about looting and the destruction of property. I’ll never give the criminal opportunists in our community the same standing as our sages and upstanding folks.). Wisdom provides restraint. This essay is an attempt to bring clarity to the events in Ferguson, Mo. It is an attempt to wrest the narrative away from all of the negative things perpetuated about our community and shine a light on how codified social stereotypes continue to be used against us in the media. The Black victim or the Black victimizer seems to be the only choice offered.  I believe Black Angst and anger and how these cousins are handled by us and law enforcement should be given equal time.

Angst is essentially the feeling of being told you are free to choose, but it’s accompanied by a perpetual anxiety about the outcomes of your choices. You believe your options are restricted to limited, insignificant rewards or heavy consequences. Anger at the injustice limited access to the American dream is the internal response. Authority is external imposition; leadership is internal elicitation. Authority is the art and science of imposing limits upon people and their actions, whereas leadership is the art and science of eliciting or drawing out the best in people’s decisions. Ferguson’s initial reaction was authority and the militarization of the city after the event. Its second response was leadership—drawing out the internal elements of trust, justice and responsible advocacy from the citizenry through the appointment of Captain Ronald Brown.

Society has progressed for us as a people, but for many financially struggling or impoverished Blacks, they don’t see it and are stuck. Ferguson has its own economic setting events.Alex Tabarrok is an internationally recognized economist and he has taken Ferguson to task based on his own research and a white paper by the ArchCity Defenders. What we are seeing is how cash-strapped local criminal justice systems in need of money use the law to secure resources. Citations of all types spiked. There are some glaring statistics.

Here’s the data:  Ferguson has 21,203 residents living in 8,192 homes. It’s 67% black and has violent crime rates consistent with the national average. However, its second largest source of revenue is court fines and fees: $2,635,400. That averages to three warrants and 1.5 case loads per home. Approximately 22% of the people are in poverty. If that’s not a powder keg, I’m not sure what is.

Now for us to continue to be proactive we must remember there are four things you can do with Angst and Anger as a Black person when it comes to dealing with our government:

  1. Stay passive and submit to injustice and grow bitter.
  2. Fight for reform,constructively,to better your situation and others.
  3. Seek an occupation with the government apparatus and fight for change.
  4. Become a token and profit from a system entrenched in ostensible narratives.

We really only have two legitimate options and I have done both: number (3) as an educator and correction specialist, and (2) now as a consultant. I’m most concerned about the narratives taking place on both sides. People use ostensible language narratives and theories that appear to be true, but in reality simply act as a cover for furthering misinformation—to create plausibility and then push their agenda ahead. As Black folks, we still need to hear the facts before making up our minds. And as far as the people perpetually against us, they will continue to recruit and place their mouthpieces in our community. I’ll also say this: we need to seek out new voices to address these crises that emerge in our community. We need nuanced, dexterous leaders who are focused on the future and securing the promises still afforded to us by a Creator who has not forgotten His covenant. Deal with the government, but put your faith in God folks. We know the epidemic of death among Black men through Black on Black crime and law enforcement sends the message that our lives have no value. I utterly reject this. Let’s love them before and after tragedy.