Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Fringes of the WEB

While it is unsurprising that the question of state funding has started to preoccupy artists – I’ve argued before that the best way to maintain the illusion of the economic crash is to undermine the creatives, thereby encouraging them to make work under the conditions of austerity and reinforcing the idea that society is in financial trouble – political theatre that both deals with broader issues and is brave enough to hold a public figure up as a hero remains rare. The Fringe – accurately described by Mischief La Bas’ Ian Smith as a venal pit and dominated by big-selling and cheap to produce stand up comedians – is fortunately inclusive enough to offer the occasional alternative. And so, the Pulse Ensemble is bringing A Man For All Times: W.E.B. Du Bois all the way from New York City.

Du Bois was a rarity himself during his life-time: born in the aftermath of the USA’s Civil War, and part of the first generation of African Americans not literally shackled up in slavery, Du Bois became a scholar at Havard, stood for senator, co-founded the NAACP and helped along the creation of the United Nations.

Pulse Ensemble insist that they are as interested in the man as his historical context. With Du Bois performed by Brian Richardson, who had already triumphed in Pulse’s Macbeth, The Lower Depths and Night Must Fall, and director Alexa Kelly having built up the company over the past two decades, A Man For All Times is a determined attempt to bring Du Bois back into the public consciousness, alongside those he inspired, like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Gareth K Vile: What will make your show stand out at the Fringe in 

Alexa Kelly (playwright & director)A Man For All Times is the story about and African-American civil rights hero.  A man, who his entire life fought for “A fair piece of the pie” for all people.  Much like what Occupy stands for today!  W.E.B. Du Bois demanded education for all, equal rights, and, most poignantly today: "The right to choose motherhood at her own discretion".

GKV: How would you describe the piece - what sort of theatre is it, and what inspired the content?

AK: The play is a historical drama filled with intensely personal moments of inspiration and observation, a portrait of the times and the evolution of a dedicated human being, shown with passion and humour.W.E.B. Du Bois, his life and his story are the inspiration to this piece. Not only was he the first black student to attend and graduate from Harvard, he was also the first black person to put into words the experience of being black in America during in that point in time. He became the voice of "the souls of black folk" with his book of the same name, and gained respect and eminent political standing both in the US as well as internationally.  He was the trailblazer for leaders such as Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

GKV: How long have you been working in theatre, and are there any highlights of your career so far?
AK: I was assistant director for the Oresteia at The Kennedy Centre.  I worked as artist in residence at the University of Michigan for three years, where I taught and directed several now renowned NY actors.  I started and ran a drama program for three years in The Federal Correctional Institution (prison) in Tallahassee, Florida while working with The Radio City (Touring) Rockettes, I managed to adapt the program to include newer material, which met with some resistance but achieved wonderful success.

Brian Richardson (performer) started his acting career 1981 in Trinidad with the tent theatre. He featured in several TV series and came to the US in 1989. He has worked as a street performer in numerous festivals and street fairs. He is featured in the film Across The Sea of Time. Brian has performed with several  NYC and regional theatre companies, in Macbeth, The Tempest, The Good Woman of Setzuan, Twelfth Night, and Race.

GKV: Why did you decide to come to the Fringe?

AK: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the greatest festival in the world with the greatest opportunity of visibility for a story about one of the most important, influential yet sadly neglected men in the history of civil rights movement, and we want to carry his story into the world at large. 

Venue: The Space @ Jury's Inn (V260)
Time: 14.55 (15.55)
Dates: 3-25 August 2012 (Not 5, 12 and 19 August 2012)
Tickets: August 3-4 14:55 (1hr) £5.00(£3.00), August 6-9,13-16,20-23 14:55 (1hr) £8.50(£7.50) and August 10-11,17-18,24-25 14:55 (1hr) £9.50(£8.50)
Fringe Box Office: 0131 226 0000 / 

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