A few days ago, I had the opportunity to photography Broadway Center Conservatory’s new touring show, Eleven Days. In my other life, I worked for the BCPA and helped start the Conservatory after the demise of Tacoma Actor’s Guild. The entire organization holds a dear place in my heart, for the work it does for the Tacoma community and for the people who drive the work. The cast and crew of Eleven Days tour during January and February in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Black History Month. The show was created by Lucas Smiraldo and co-written with Charhys Bailey and Antonio Edwards.
From the study guide, about the show:
The work combines original poetry presented as spoken word with new choreography and
theater. It is meant to offer a deeper, broader view of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther
King within the context of the civil rights movement. In many cases the legacy of Dr. King has
been relegated to his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. But the movement for peace, justice,
and equality through non-violent action includes many dimensions. The poems highlight
eleven key days in Dr. King’s life, reflecting major milestones including the Montgomery Bus
Boycott, the freedom riders perilous journey on bus through the segregated south, the March
on Washington, Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize Award, and the passage of the Voting Rights Act,
as well as private moments such as his family’s celebration of his birth, the day he changed his
name, and the day he lost two neighborhood friends to racism. Each page includes an
exploration of concepts related to civics, social studies, social fairness, peaceful protest,
community and change.
To say I was moved wouldn’t be entirely accurate. What I was: thankful. I was thankful to the BCPA for creating something truly unique, truly inspiring and truly unlike anything out there. This isn’t watered-down drivel for children. The work invites the audience to actually think, actually reach for meaning. It doesn’t hand anyone a tidy message – or if it does, the message isn’t offered in the usual way, thankgod. Can we all just agree that kids can rise to the occasion of critical thought? Please? Because from what I’ve seen recently education, this opinion is not the norm. BCPA’s Education Department (headed up by Lucas Smiraldo and Nyree Martinez) knows this and settles for nothing less than excellence in the programming. Bravo.
The show is bold, combining spoken word and dance and is performed by the four cast members: April Nygard, Charles Simmons, Angelica Barksdale and LaNita Hudson. Each of the performers offers a substantial contribution to the balanced ensemble. What they lack in polish, they more than make up for in emotionally driven, organic performances. There isn’t any pretension or “acting.”
From Day One: His Birthday
The day that he was born
he was named after his father
and slept in the crib of his sister
(who now had a bed of her own)
He was raised in a home
Passed down from his grandma
And his mother would sing
His father would preach
His aunt in her rocker
Grandmother beside her
read him the stories
Of the places he’d go.
I think Dr. King would have been proud. And super happy to move on from the whole “Dream” thing.