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ITHACA, NY – In response to community support for another three performances, Civic Ensemble will remount On the Corner, the 2015 community-based play which had five performances in October.
After seeing the show, Ken Schlather of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County and Brandon Kane of Greenstar Cooperative Market approached Civic Ensemble about the possibility of remounting the show so that more community members could experience it.
Schlather said, “Audiences left the On the Corner deeply moved and highly motivated to take action, to take positive steps to help address and end systemic racism in this county and country.”
Additional sponsors include: GIAC, Center for Transformative Action, Dorothy Cotton Institute, Multicultural Resource Center, Tompkins County Office of Human Rights, and Village at Ithaca. The original production of On the Corner was funded by the Community Foundation of Tompkins County.
Performances will take place on Thursday, November 19th at 7pm, Saturday, November 21st at 7pm, and Sunday, November 22nd at 2pm. The Thursday performance will be the centerpiece of the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s annual meeting, which all community members are welcome to attend.
“The purpose of offering more performances is to engage more community members in dialogue about where we came from as a country, where we want to go, and how to get there,” co-director and co-playwright, Sarah K. Chalmers said.
The majority of the cast will stay on for the remount. The actor who played Officer James in the first run, Eric Worthington, will not be able to return. Taking his place is Seth Soulstein, Cornell graduate student in the Performing and Media Arts Department.
Returning are Donna Acquavella, Helen T. Clark, Terrell M. Dickson, Heather Duke, Alan Godfrey, Rachel Gould, Jharrel Jerome, Andrea Owens, Mar Pérez, James Schultz, Jason Wilson, and Sylvie Yntema. Nia Nunn Makepeace, Assistant Professor at Ithaca College’s Education Department and the director of the Community Unity Music Education Program (CUMEP), returns with the dancers of CUMEP to perform the dance piece she created and performed with the campers at CUMEP this summer. Rudy Nuñez will play the drum for the performances.
On the Corner follows Julian, an African-American teenager, and Officer James, the white police officer who detains him, as they travel from the Wall Street slave market of 1690, to a Bronx high school in 1978.
When they disagree about the meaning of this history, their journey leads them to the heart of our divided America, and the possibility of a new future. Julian’s family has sent him to Ithaca from the Bronx to keep him out of trouble.
While in Ithaca, his mother passes away. This event sparks the action of the play as a chorus of four all-knowing travellers guides the Julian’s journey through space and time and, ultimately, back home again.
On the Corner investigates race, class, and the origin of race in the United States through the lens of the relationship between Julian and Officer James. “We see this relationship develop in a way it would be unlikely to do in real life. The chorus, and the time travel, provide an opportunity for us to imagine the possibilities without the constraints of space and time,” co-playwright and co-director Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. said.
On the Corner was developed in the summer of 2015 with participants who were recruited to spend two nights a week during June and July sharing stories and developing material for the play that Chalmers and Simmons have scripted.
When asked why she is participating in the show actor Syvlie Yntema said, “I got involved with this company because I wanted more connection with my community, and because I absolutely believe that theater has the power to affect change.” Helen Clark said she joined, “to continue to re-educate myself, as a white person, on the true history of this country.”
Civic Ensemble is a non-profit theatre company serving Ithaca and Tompkins County that produces new plays by or about women and people of color, re-imaginings of classics, and community-based plays that explore and explode the social, political, and cultural issues of our time.
Through the production of plays, after-school and in-school education programs for young people, and civic engagement programs with Ithaca community members, the company works to bring audiences of different races, classes, and experiences together in a public forum on the American experiment. Civic Ensemble is committed to employing Ithaca-based theatre artists whenever possible. It is our vision that theatre be accessible to all people, onstage and off.
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