May 12, 2004 – St. Croix Center Stage Inc. will present "For the Love of Freedom," a play about the Haitian revolution, at Fort Frederik on Friday evening and will sponsor a youth rally to showcase young talent on Saturday at Sunshine Mall.
The two events, which are both free, are part of Center Stage's efforts to bring accomplished performers to St. Croix to work with local residents, Madeline McCray, artistic director, said.
The professionals "bring a wealth of information, inspiration and some life lessons" to local performers," she said on Wednesday.
McCray said she drew upon her experience as an actress to set up the events. While working in New York years ago, she met Levy Lee Simon, who wrote "For the Love of Freedom." She said she contacted him around five months ago about producing the play on St. Croix, and he will be present for the performance. Directing the production is Ben Guillory from Los Angeles.
Simon's play was nominated for 10 NAACP awards and an Ovation award in 2003. The historic event on which it is based is comparable to St. Croix's Fireburn, McCray said.
Appearing in the production will be Charles Holt, who's currently performing in "The Lion King" on Broadway. The performance in the fort courtyard is to begin at 7 p.m. and the cast includes 13 local residents, including students.
Holt also will play a big part in the youth rally, McCray said.
The rally is to begin at noon with an open microphone for local artists to showcase their abilities as musicians and poets "in freestyle poetry with positive lyrics," McCray said. "It will be a family event."
Xtaushan Band, which won the road march at the 2003-04 Crucian Christmas Festival, also will provide music.
At 4 p.m. Holt will perform "Black Boy," based on noted African-American author Richard Wright's autobiography of the same title about growing up in the segregated South. Published in 1945, the book "remains a seminal text in our history about what it means to be a man, black and Southern in America," according to The Mississippi Writers Page on the Internet.
According to McCray, "For the Love Of Freedom" is phase I of "Word Art-Page2 Stage, Screen and Beyond," a program intended to help students get excited about learning through drama- and music-based activities.
McCray said she has been in contact with local schools to encourage student participation in the weekend's activities. She said when she heard that Education Complex teacher Gwendolyn David had recently ordered 75 copies of "Black Boy," she made a special effort to contact her. As a result, she expects 40 students from David's class to attend the performance, which is sponsored in part by the V.I. Humanities Council.
Saturday's program is called "St. Croix Center Stage-Voices of Today & Tomorrow Youth Rally." It's being sponsored in part by the Law Enforcement Planning Commission with support from Sunshine Mall.
McCray, who is also project director for Teen Theater Solution Improv, moved to St. Croix six years ago and founded Center Stage in 2000. Since then, she said in a release, "St. Croix Center Stage has been providing young people with opportunities to develop their artistic skills via workshops and training sessions with professional actors and actresses in the national and international entertainment industry."
For information, call her at 772-0712.
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