Share, , , Google Plus, Reddit, Pinterest, StumbleUpon

Print

Posted in:

FREE FRED BROWN! opens tonight as Ujima addresses multiple injustices in “just transition” style. Pay what you can at the Paul Robeson Theatre.

Lorna C. Hill, Founder and Artistic Director of Ujima Company, now celebrating their 38th year, continues to address issues that affect “front line communities” such as Buffalo’s East Side and West Side. “The challenge for the poor is huge. The responses have been minimal” says Hill. If you want to know more about being part of the response, you can attend a play, FREE FRED BROWN! this one weekend only, Friday June 9th at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday June 10th at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 11th at 4:00 p.m. Produced by Ujima Theatre it’s at the Paul Robeson Theatre in the African American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14209 (near Utica). For more information call (716) 884-2013.

According to Hill, the play FREE FRED BROWN!, about a young African-American man who runs up against a major utility company, deals with three injustices facing “front line communities.” Three issues in one play?  This is not a new idea in the activist community. Addressing multiple issues together instead of in isolation is known as “just transition.” The three issues in FREE FRED BROWN! are Climate Injustice, Racial Injustice, and Economic Injustice. Using family-friendly language (school age children are encouraged to attend), everyone is invited to enjoy a large cast diverse in age, gender, and color as they present live theater to begin conversations that can tear down barriers. And, each of the three performances is “pay what you can.”

So why is Ujima Company over in the Paul Robeson Theatre for the first time in 38 years? You may recall that several Novembers ago, during a particularly nasty storm, Ujima had to leave its home on Elmwood Avenue due to a leaky roof. They have been producing plays in other venues, but their good news is that Ujima Company will be moving into School 77 which has been vacant for years. They will share the school with PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing) and PEACE of the City (which offers “Shakespeare Comes to 716”) as well as affordable senior housing on the upper floors.

Ripping out the old school auditorium which was “not very conducive to the kind of theater we do in the 21st Century” they will create a “black box” theater with retractable stadium seating that will hold between 100 and 200 people. But, for now, while they do have permanent offices, their stage productions are “nomadic” and that’s why you can catch them this weekend at the Paul Robeson Theatre, Friday and Saturday June 9 and 10 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 11 at 4:00 at the African-American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Avenue in Buffalo.

That leaky roof is one good example of “life imitating art” since, in Ujima Company’s publicity, FREE FRED BROWN! is being called a “devised theatre piece” about a young black man who becomes the reluctant face of a movement while in prison for “theft of services” from the “National Gas Company.”

That leaky roof is one good example of “life imitating art” since, in Ujima Company’s publicity, FREE FRED BROWN! is being called a “devised theatre piece” about a young black man who becomes the reluctant face of a movement while in prison for “theft of services” from the “National Gas Company.” When a surprise snow storm wreaks havoc on the region, Fred’s neighborhood, called “Uptown” suffers most and demands explanations. “Uptown” is described as a community that is “the epicenter of economic, racial, and climate justice in a rust-belt city identical to Buffalo, NY.”

Note: This play will not conflict with the 42nd Juneteenth Parade which will be held the following weekend on Saturday, June 17th, 2017. The Juneteenth parade next weekend begins at Juneteenth of Buffalo headquarters (at the corner of Genesee and Moselle Streets) and proceeds down Genesee into Martin Luther King Jr. Park (1.4 miles).

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For over 20 years, as a producer and program host on WNED Classical (94.5 FM), he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?" These days Peter can be heard regularly on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5.

On “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?" As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take."

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he was an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

View All Articles by Peter Hall
Hide Comments
Show Comments