Arts & Events

Staged Readings at Buriel Clay Playwright’s Festival

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Friday November 03, 2006

The First Annual Buriel Clay Playwrights’ Festival will play all next week, Monday through Saturday evenings, Nov. 6-11 (Mon. at 7:30 p.m., Tues.-Sat. at 8 p.m.), at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St. (at Webster) in San Francisco, featuring the work of local playwrights, as well as participants from Sacramento, Los Angeles and New York. 

Artistic director Robert Henry Johnson of RHJ Productions announced the line-up of plays and commented on them. His own Tiger in a Watermelon Field, “an ode to the 90s jazz scene ... with Hip-Hop all around, it’s ten love stories about young people interested in jazz,” opens the festival on Monday. Tuesday, eight one-act plays, on themes from “mundane trivialities ... to the imagined realities of post-apocalypsic society,” by Greg Beuthin, Mario Louis Gonzales, Nicole Henares, Helene Jarra, Julian Phillips and Shereel Washington will be featured.  

Etosha Moss’ When Moons Burst Like New Plums, explorations of “sexism and the black female body politic” in poetry recited by four black women, plays Wednesday; Anthony D’Juan’s The Purveyors on Thursday “is a tragedy in blackface, as a slave woman comes between the two partners of The Christy Minstrels.” Shakespeare’s Lost Masterpiece by Larry Americ Allen debuts Friday, as “a burnt-out white professor discovers a black homeless man unknowingly possesses a manuscript of The Bard’s.” 

Concluding the festival on Sat, actor Ben Guillory (The Color Purple) will direct Johnson’s Black Apple Murders, “a Thanksgiving psycho-thriller murder mystery set in New England in an old town of the first Pilgrims”  

The plays will be presented as “staged readings by professional actors rehearsed by professional directors,” in the theater named after Buriel Clay, San Francisco author and founder of the SF Black Writers Workshop, remembered for his insistence that arts should be funded in the neighborhoods, “which resulted in the creation of what’s now the African American Art and Culture Complex—and had repercussions all around the country.” 

The first two nights are free; Wed-Sat, a suggested $10 donation per show. Information and reservations: (415) 568-5371.