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It’s evenings like this that make you proud to be in Buffalo. When two prolific artists, bound by their commitment to community and hometown boosterism, premiere their joint venture for a packed audience. If it only made you smile, to feel that kind of support in the flesh, it would be enough. But if it makes you perk up and listen, and adjust your thinking, or habits, eve…

Art

We're not here to bash snow days. They're great chances to relax, stay safe from the elements, spend meaningful time with the whole family and perhaps day-drink, as we saw many Buffalonians share on social media. But relaxation can turn quickly into restlessness, a strong desire to do something other than dally from the living room to the dining room to the bathroom. Fo…

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On Harlan Penn’s multilayered set for “Native Son” at the Paul Robeson Theatre, Bigger Thomas ambles and climbs its many steps, ramps and levels with a poeticism that author Richard Wright makes clear is the definitive statement of race in this country: This place is rigged. That this were only a poem, though. In Nambi E. Kelley’s vignette-filled adaptation of Wright…

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Every decade or so, a blockbuster show emerges with the power to create new theater fans on a previously unimagined scale. In the 1990s, "Rent" propelled legions of drama club teens toward the stage. In the early 2000s, "Wicked" minted a new generation of Broadway devotees who thrilled to the vocal acrobatics of Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth and to the show's empow…

Before his death in 2005, playwright August Wilson completed the task of writing a cycle of 10 extraordinary plays about African American life, each representing a different decade of the 20th century. "King Hedley II," which is set in 1985, is the longest of these, among the most heavily symbolic, and possibly the most difficult to perform, as it rhythmically alternate…

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Now in its 51st season, the Paul Robeson Theatre kicks off a new year with the beloved musical “Purlie.” Set in the Jim Crow South, and written at the precipice of the Civil Rights Movement, the show is still flagrantly relevant today. Purlie Victorious is a traveling preacher who returns home to save his Georgia hometown from a rich white landowner hell-bent on salvagi…

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An electric moment in the thick of the civil rights movement came crackling to life Friday night in the African American Cultural Center’s Paul Robeson Theatre, where Will Power’s play “Fetch Clay, Make Man” is now running in a smart production directed by Laverne Clay. The show, which adds several layers of historical fiction to the relationship between the great boxer a…

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Imagined conversations among great historical figures seems to be the order of the day on the Buffalo theater scene. Fond memories of American Repertory Theater’s 2015 production of Steve Martin’s historical fantasy “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” still linger. Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis, who never actually met, are facing off in Mark St. Germain’s “Freud’s Last Session” i…

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Everyone needs a little gospel.That’s the feeling walking out – strutting, as it were, for me, for most – of “How I Got Over,” the original new play written and directed by Paulette D. Harris, artistic director of the Paul Robeson Theatre where this exultant piece has been selling out all month. There I was – we were, in tandem – tapping my chest, nodding to the marching b…

“The truth will set you free but first it will tick you off.” In “Burying the Bones,” a post-apartheid play by M.E.H. Lewis, the current offering at the Paul Robeson Theatre, the pretty, stormy but naïve Mae Mxenges finds that contemporary wisdom very apt. Seeking her husband, missing for two years, one of hundreds of thousands of  black citizens to lose their lives in So…

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The premise of the Paul Robeson Theatre’s world premiere of “Shake Em On Down: A Blues Opera,” the work of an anonymous playwright who goes by the pen name of R. Skye Kamiyo, is instantly charming and disarming. Two men and a woman hold court in a nondescript bar, carrying on like old friends. The sage leader of the pack, played by director Mary Craig, opens a letter from…

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Getzville's Jewish Repertory Theatre and the Paul Robeson Theatre at Buffalo's African American Cultural Center each received a 2014 50/50 Applause Award from the International Centre for Women Playwrights, the organization announced this week. The award went to 67 theaters throughout the United States around the world whose recent seasons featured plays by female writers…