"Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at the sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground." from Zora Neale Hurston's 1942 autobiography, "Dust Tracks on a Road." "Jump at the Sun" is a wonderful title for this LA Theater Works play by Kathleen McGhee-Anderson and the 2008 Samuel D. Pollard documentary the play seems to have been developed from.
Zora Neale Hurston grew up "telling lies" to an appreciative audience in a small Black town in Florida. She was a story teller and, as an acclaimed anthropologist, a story collector and a folklorist. Zora Neale Hurston wasn't so much as in the right place at the right time as she created the right time and the right place - Harlem in the 1920's became the Harlem Renaissance. She was a contemporary of Langston Hughes (1902-1967), who is prominently featured in "Jump at the Moon." Hughes was more radicalized than Zora Neale Hurston, and probably looked down at her for being too ethnically black. She was exuberant and embraced Black culture, and that exuberance makes a great radio play performance.
LA Theater Works (latw dot org) has a great guide for teachers, and it's a good guide to start learning about that cultural era. The title of this review is a Zora Neale Hurston quote.
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In 2008, 52% of California voters approved Proposition 8 - "Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." That promptly ended a period of a few months in California when same sex couples could, and did, marry.
'8' is dramatization of the arguments heard by Judge Vaughan Walker (Brad Pitt) of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a case called Hollingsworth v. Perry.
'8' has a stunning cast. Martin Sheen was especially impassioned playing former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson. George Clooney was played the more low-key David Boies. The dramatization was a reading, not a play. The actors used scripts, their was no blocking, and the reading was in front of a live LA Theater Works audience.
Do Olson and Boies sound familiar? They are the top constitutional lawyers in the United States, and were on opposite political sides in Bush v. Gore. Both men set aside their political differences to support marriage equality. There's an interview at the end that's enlightening.
The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS, for Supreme Court of the United States) will hear arguments on Hollingsworth v. Perry, and will answer the questions "Whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman; and (2) whether petitioners have standing under Article III, § 2 of the Constitution in this case."
These are the finest attorneys who can argue this issue before SCOTUS, and I am looking forward to Dustin Lance Black's update.
You know a performance is great if you find yourself thinking about it at random times days - or even months - later. I finished Lydia Diamond's "Stick Fly" (2011) about 2 months ago, and just got reminded I hadn't reviewed the Los Angeles Theater Works (LATW) Audible performance of the play.
What reminded me? A news story about two young men from a wealthy family in Snellville, Georgia who tried to kill their parents. I flashed back to the 1990's and the Menendez Brothers, who succeeded where those two young men thankfully failed. Both families are from non-majority racial groups, but I've never heard the press mention that. What's important to the Fourth Estate is the mansions, the private schools, the tennis courts . . .
"Stick Fly" explores the great social divide, and in an America that's desperately trying to be post-racial, that divide is wealth and class. I think, to a great extent the 2% - or 1% - seem to occupy some upper strata insulated from scandal and tragedy. It's not true in real life, and it's not true in "Stick Fly."
It's a neat audio play. I felt like I was in The Hamptons, secretly cheering for the naive entomologist heroine from the other 98%, who's become an unwitting specimen herself.
The title of the review is from the Greek origin of "entomology".
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