Thousands of neighbors and families came out to Oakwood Park to see this extraordinary play last month. The neighborhood was buzzing with anticipation after seeing the large and very technical stage they had set up while we were not at at the Oakwood Barbeque. I swear as I am a king of threadbare productions, The Cornerstone Theater Company provided beautiful sets and props and sound. The production looked gorgeous. Bravo to the writers and stage and graphic designers for you have told an excellent tale of Oakwood. In their fine logo above we find quotes from the works of muralists Emily Winters, Frederico Vigil, Edward Bieberman, Francisco Letelier, and Rip Cronk, from their treasured Venice Murals.
The story was written to utilize a large community cast, and this brings authenticity to the stories. Childhood, parenthood, possibly being the last older generation black family to sell out and move away, questions raised. Nostalgia is fine but times have changed and many of the things that kept you here are gone. In the end the audience got to vote on whether the mythical Zelda, a fictional and composite character drawn from Venice stories, and whose life was the connecting string of the story, should sell her house to pay for her daughter’s education.
I loved hating the grand comedic villain from Har De Har Har Realty as she lies about her love for the community, as she plans to destroy it.
“The Cornerstone Theater Company makes new plays with and about communities. For 30 years, Cornerstone Theater Company has brought together an ensemble of professional artists of the highest caliber with people who may not think of themselves as artists, to produce works of excellence based on the stories, characteristics, and concerns of a given community.” – CTC Press Release.
I sat with Emily Winters at the performance, a few yards behind Ira Koslow, VNC President. After the show Emily asked Ira if he thought the play represented the business community fairly. He said, as if it is what he should say, and what Emily expects him to say, that it did not present the whole picture. There are some more photos on page 5.