Black student drama struts talent Audience moved to hilarity, silence

March 03, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

"Yo momma's so ugly, when she cries the tears roll down the back of her head because they too scared to go down the front," one woman shouted to her girlfriend.

"Well, yo family's so poor, when I went over to your house and stepped on a cigarette, your momma yelled 'who turned off the heat,' " said another.

And the laughter of about 50 people resounded like a gospel choir in Western Maryland College's Baker Memorial Chapel Sunday night during the Black Student Union Drama Fest 1993.

The intimate group was as diverse as the acts were different. But everyone was welcomed into the spirit of the the program, which wasn't as much a "black thing" as an "African-American Pride" thing.

"Each year we get together in February to present a display of the African-American talent abundant on campus," said Kristina Johnson, vice president of the Black Student Union. "We have to show some support of our artistic abilities, and this month is a good time to showcase those talents."

Talent was abundant in the pulpit.

It was a banner night for Maya Angelou fans, who got more of her poetry than they probably would have by reading one of her books.

The women who performed "Mo' Funny" used more than "yo momma" jokes in the skit celebrating black women, incorporating a saucy rendition of the poem, "Ain't They Bad."

Quiana Pollard gave the program another shot of the power that is in the African-American woman as she read two of Ms. Angelou's poems, "And Still I Rise," and "Phenomenal Woman."

Political science major James Martin's recitation of Rudyard Kipling's "If" and William H. Henry's "Invictus," silenced the crowd, but received roaring applause as he ended his performance.

"Being a black man on this campus isn't always easy," said Mr. Martin, before he launched into his oration. "I've often turned to the words in these poems to guide me."

Senior Eric Byrd played an original jazz composition.

"African-American music is rooted in jazz and the blues," said Mr. Byrd, as he approached the piano in the pulpit. "This country has no other form of art to call its own.

"This is a very personal statement and should not be taken as a symbol of power over anything. It's just something I think we can all listen to and appreciate."

As Jennifer Cormeny performed a dramatic reading from the "Sorry" passage from "For Colored Girls Who Consider Suicide When the Rainbow is Enough," a play by Ntozake Shange, the men in the audience were reminded that apologies are not always welcome when the apologizer is a repeat offender.

"I can't get to my clothes in my closet for all the sorries," Ms. Cormeny said, as the women in the audience laughed and looked at the men.

The most dramatic performance of the night was given by sophomore psychology major James Felton, the BSU's representative to the campus Student Government. His original skit, called "Transformation," awakened the audience to the heartbreak and terror of crack cocaine addiction and its consequences.

The audience was silent as Mr. Felton showed how the character killed his mother because she saw him as a useless coke head with no future.

"How do you like that, huh, Ma?" he screamed, beating his open left palm with his right fist. "How do you like that?"

The program was an opportunity to get Western Maryland's students together and show off some of the local talent, said BSU President Renee Bartley.

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