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"no Place To Be Somebody"

"no Place To Be Somebody" image
Parent Issue
Day
3
Month
September
Year
1976
OCR Text

Presented by the Anderson Players at the Northwest Activities Center, August 4-29 Charlea -Gordone's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, No Place To Be Somebody, tells the story of a funky ghetto bar, a "bucket of blood" asit's called, and the people who hang out there- the pimps-, prostitutes, hustlers, small-time racketeers, and aspiring artists typical of so many sleazy scènes that one could see in the inner-cities of the sixties, when the play was first presented. Basically, it is still a realistic representation of daily life as it is on the down-and-out street corners and in the crummy dives that exist to.this day. Historically, No Place is an important theatrical work because it was one of the first popular and successful dramatic pieces about big city black reality written by a black person. Ron O'Neal starred in the original version of the play and used it as a springboard to success in Superjly. The Anderson Players use No Place in much the same way : as a vehicle to show off their considerable talents and to develop their potential as a fórce on the local theater scène. Despite the shortcomings the play itself - which is overwhelmingly negative- the Anderson crew's presentation is an outstanding success. In their hands Ato Place is entertaining; thóught-provoking, and an impressive first demonstration of their abüities, individually and as an artistic unit. Director Lionel Anderson comes off as a very able actor in the lead role of Johnny Williams, the black bar-owner whose hatred of white men consumes himself and all of his friends who are sucked into the whirlpool of his raging emotions. Earl Fields, as the burnt-out ex-con Sweets Crane,.who identifies Johnny's illness as "Charley fever," almost steals the glory away from him, though, with an absolutely brilliant performance. Sweets, Johnny's hero, explains that Johnny hates white men but, at the same time, wants to be just like them in terms of material wealth, machismo, and power. Johnny's lover, a white prostitute played by Pat Glannan (last seen in The Great - White Hope), tolerates his callousness until it leads her to suicide. Shanty Mulligan, played by BUI Williamson, works for Johnny and lives in his world so that he will not have to partake in the vapidness of Euro-American culture. Shanty saveshimself only by leaving Johnny in disgust, remarking, "How can you be so black, nigger, but you got no soul?" Johnny's friend, Gabe Gabriel, played by Charles Byrd, is not so lucky. The hopeful young actorwriter and the moralist of the drama, Gabe is forced to kill Johnny in self-defense during the play's final orgasm of violence. ■ No Place To Be Somebody never attempts to suggest solutions to the problems of inner-city life in racist America- most of the ma in characters simply dön't' ever get the chance to be what they want to be. But the talent and dedication shown by the Anderson Players (and let's also mention Tim Dugan, the WJZZ news director moonlighting here as mafia flunky Mike Mafucci) is as encouragingas the play's plot is discouraging. We have to think that at least some of these people will find a place to be somebody in theworld of contemporary theater. (Anderson will be auditioning for his next play , an original work, during the month of October. For more information, cali 894-7041.)