Two directors and three actors of Penumbra Theatre presented a stage discussion of the play, “The Amen Corner,” written by James Baldwin, on Sunday, February 26 at Central Library in St. Paul.
Almost 30 people attended this event, which was billed as “page to stage.” The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library have put on several programs with different theaters in the Twin Cities. “Our format includes discussions of the artistic personnel’s work on their play,” said Alayne Hopkins, program coordinator for The Friends of the Library. “We want the audience to have an inside look at the production.” What was heard in the elevators, as the audience was leaving was, “That was great and that was fantastic!” “What a great opportunity to hear from the actual people that produce and create plays themselves.”
“Huge issues are colliding but Baldwin does not give answers,” said Lou Bellamy, founder and artistic director for Penumbra Theatre. “We are still casting for 40 actors on stage. It is huge play.”
“We are the largest African American theatre with 35 continuous productions,” said Sarah Bellamy, education director for Penumbra, “We focus on issues of social justice and race. Our theatre came out of the black arts movement.”
Baldwin’s play, about a pastor called Sister Margaret Alexander, was written in the early 1950s. She has devoted her life to the Lord and given up on earthly love. As her son searches for his father, a secret from Sister Margaret’s past is uncovered and there is a reckoning coming soon for the pastor.
At the discussion, a member of the audience asked the actors, H. Adam Harris, Kevin D. West, and Sonja Parks, who their heroes were. All three said Lou Bellamy. They respect the director’s talent and training with highest regard.
The next page to stage discussion will be with Park Square Theater with the cast from “Doubt” on May 2.
The Amen Corner runs from May 11 through June 17, in a partnership between Penumbra and the Guthrie. Tickets are on sale at Guthrie Box Office at 612-377-2224 or guthrietheatre.org.
Dominic Taylor will present, “Let’s Talk Theatre: Remembering James Baldwin” on Monday, April 2 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Call for tickets at 651-224-3180 or penumbratheatre.org
Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor neighborhoods is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Collaborative.