One Bad-asssss Play

Melvin Van Peebles by way of the Classical Theatre of Harlem

:As one of the founding fathers of blaxploitation, Melvin Van Peebles has a body of work with a reputation to uphold. It’s always bold, typically brash, and proudly in your face. His Seventies films, Watermelon Man and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, set the stage for a new generation of filmmakers and writers, who realized the poetic possibilities of racial interaction and gritty ghetto life. Most often his tales are intentionally coarse parables that reveal truths everyone can learn from. Theatergoers who have grown accustomed to genteel works at the Carnival Center should steel themselves for a musical the likes of which they might not have seen before. Tonight marks the opening of the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s performance of Van Peebles’s Seventies musical, Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death. The stage will be converted into the mean streets of the inner city. There will be pimps, hoes, and crooked cops. And just imagine -- you’re only minutes away from the reality of this life within Miami’s rough downtown core!

Van Peebles’s politically brave, sexually ferocious musical is broken into 19 monologues, which some people have labeled as the beginning of the spoken-word/choreopoem movement that continues today. With bright costumes and Shakespeare-honed acting, this performance will be a true treat for theater lovers tonight at 8:00.
Oct. 17-20, 8 p.m., 2007

 
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