Tag Archives: Layon Gray
For the majority of white Americans, the word “colonialism” is an abstract term usually confined to history courses. But in Layon Gray’s consciousness-expanding drama The Dahomey Warriors, foreign powers occupying your homeland becomes a palpable personal three-dimensional tragedy at M Ensemble’s tale of an African tribe whose military was comprised of women.
M Ensemble’s production of Layon Gray’s Cowboy is everything audiences expect of a rousing western, but it’s also an inherent indictment. It is not of little significance that the play is presented with entirely Black actors in a genre that has only recently begun to welcome melanin in its ensembles.
In Cowboy, the new dramatic play opening in June at M Ensemble in Miami, the gun-totin’ U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves, traditionally garbed down to the required Stetson, strides through the double doors of the saloon, secretly on the trail of two wanted criminals. But there’s a slight difference from the oaters in which Sheriff John Wayne restored justice to a sleepy town.
The dominating vision of The Tree and its dark violent past is a theatrical masterstroke from writer-director Layon Gray that opens a stirring Meet Me At The Oak, posting yet another strong offering for a revitalized M Ensemble.
Music, sometimes tenderly introspective, sometimes upliftingly powerful, is deftly woven throughout the surging triumph of both the rise of the all-black 1939 New York Renaissance basketball team and M Ensemble’s moving recreation of the “Rens” banner year in Layon Gray’s Kings of Harlem.