The Richmond Register

Local News

January 31, 2011

EKU, Berea plan events for Black History Month

RICHMOND — Berea College and Eastern Kentucky University are planning several events to highlight February’s Black History Month.

From lectures to theatrical productions and readings, the month-long celebration will feature a variety of events designed to educate and entertain.

Berea College is taking a daring look at African-American stereotypes with the play “The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World.”

Written by Suzan-Lori Parks, who was born in Fort Knox, and winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, the play originally was performed in 1990 and centers around characters with names such as Black Man With Watermelon and Black Woman with Fried Drumstick.

“There are 11 characters that all represent African-American stereotypes,” said the play’s director Adanma (Onyedike) Barton, an assistant professor of theatre at Berea College. “These figures tell the story about African-Americans that have been suppressed through history, and no matter how you try to suppress us, we rise up and come back.”

Barton said she chose the play partly because she wanted students to perform a play by Parks, but also because the play is considered Parks’ masterpiece but rarely is performed because of its difficulty.

“There’s no plot, it’s completely non-linear,” Barton said. “The greatest thing about the play is at the end you feel a cathartic sense of renewal and focus.”

Barton chose to add music to the play, using a live band throughout the performance.

“It’s an important play,” Barton said. “It’s not just for African-Americans, but for everybody.”

After each performance, audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in a talkback session.

“I think this is a play people will really need to discuss, what just happened, what they just saw,” Barton said. “I believe the theater is a great tool to promote dialog and this is one of the best ones to discuss.”

Barton said her next project will be in the fall when she directs an original play by Silas House, who has been at the school since the fall of 2010 in the position of National Endowment for the Humanities Chair in Appalachian Studies.

For reservations to the current production call the box office at 985-3300. Box office hours are from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The box office also will open one hour before each performance.

Following is a list of Black History Month events scheduled at Berea College and EKU:

Feb. 3

• Chautauqua lecture, “Pride and Humans,” Michael Eric Dyson, 7:30 p.m., O’Donnell Hall, EKU.

Feb. 7

• African-American Read-in, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Powell Building, EKU. For more information, call 622-8676 or e-mail afastudies@eku.edu.

Feb. 10

• “Beyond the Harlem Renaissance,” an interactive museum of African American art, literature and music, 2 p.m., Powell Lobby, EKU. For more information, call 622-4373

• Dr. Michelle Alexander, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness,” 3-4 p.m., Phelps-Stokes Auditorium, Berea College.

Feb. 18-19, 23-26

• “The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World,” 8 p.m., McGaw Theatre, Berea College Jelkyl Drama Center.

Feb. 19

• Annual Dr. Carter G. Woodson Unity Banquet, 5 p.m., Upper Seabury Gymnasium, Berea College.

Feb. 23-27

• Five-day educational and cultural trip to Memphis, Tenn. For application forms or information, members of the EKU campus community can visit the AFA Office, Mattox 214/216, call 622-8676 or e-mail salome. nnoromele@eku.edu.

Feb. 24

• Dr. Rick Kittles, “The Role of the Diverse Populations in Personalized Genetic Medicine,” 3 p.m., Phelps-Stokes Auditorium, Berea College.

Feb. 28

• “Tukule, Tusome; To Eat, To Learn,” characterization of Oney Judge: Maidservant to Martha Washington, with Sheila Arnold, noon, Commons, Berea College.

Tim Mandell can be reached at tmandell@richmondregister.com or 623-1669 ext. 6696.

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