Play trilogy will help raise money for black cultural center in Aiken

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The Center for African- American History, Art and Culture has not opened, but its programming director is producing a trilogy, Epic in Aiken, to benefit the center.

"Epic in Aiken is a collection of plays, all of which will be performed in one night," said Wendy Bryce, the director.

The play Bitter Reflections Do Not Flatter, by Ras Jus Dawa-Colibri, features two debaters who compare the past with the future.

Each debater calls a witness to testify about black people who live in poverty and about those who are in abusive relationships, and about the high rate of imprisonment among black men, Ms. Bryce said.

The argument centers on whether the current state is caused by a weak foundation or because those who came later did not follow the plan.

"It has quite a lot of humor in it," she said. "The issues are very serious, but the presentation within itself is quite something else."

The play will feature local performers, including Matthew Cabbil, who recited the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech at the Jan. 15 Lucy Craft Laney Community Celebration.

Symbiosis, from George C. Wolfe's The Colored Museum, is a satire about a black man who embarks on a corporate career. He has to give up some of his ethnic traditions to conform to the mainstream, Ms. Bryce said.

The musical production African Dance, a poem by Keita Fodeba, choreographed by Aisha Rivers of Ayoluwa African Dance Theatre, is a tribute to soldiers.

"It is the story of a young African warrior who goes off to fight a war representing his village. He gets killed, and it's his fiancee telling the story of what happened to him," Ms. Bryce said.

The program will open with a performance by an African praise singer and an appearance by African Roots, a group of 15 South Africans ranging in age from 16 to their mid-20s.

In conjunction with the plays, an art exhibition, Epic Creativity, will be on display at Smith-Hazel Recreation Center from Feb. 6-28.

This exhibition will feature artwork by Aiken County school children.

A second exhibition will be sent to South Africa, said Ms. Bryce, and South African children will add artwork to the display, which will be housed permanently at the cultural center.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395 or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Epic in Aiken

WHERE: Washington Center for the Performing Arts' Aiken Community Playhouse, 124 Newberry St.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Feb. 9-11; 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10

COST: $35 opening night; $25 for remaining performances; tickets available at Aiken Community Playhouse

TELEPHONE: (803) 648-1438


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