Tag Archives: M Ensemble Company
Langston Hughes wrote of “a dream deferred” from the elevated promontory of poetry; but the great playwright August Wilson wrote from the street what it was like living through a dream being deferred. And once again, M Ensemble captures the very essence of an era in Wilson’s Two Trains Running, honored by a cast inhabiting the vibrant array of residents and deftly orchestrated direction.
M Ensemble Company revives the 1972 award-winning The River Niger capturing a crossroads in Black life in America with a depiction of passionate, intelligent people debating diametrically opposed philosophies of how Black citizens should fight for justice in a racist world.
If it’s possible to capture the depth and breadth of a tumultuous vibrant time and place by just focusing on the intersecting lives of five ordinary people, in this case Harlem in 1930, then Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky comes close, notably in this production by the M Ensemble Company.
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.
If Dickens’ opening line in A Tale of Two Cities has become a trite cliché through overuse it has become a painfully accurate truism about theater over the past two years, especially South Florida theater. Crippling loss and inspiring resurrection. Surrender and perseverance. And , now, the Covid threat has reasserted. But looking back on those two years delivers a testament worth celebrating and learning from.
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.
Sometimes the joint is jumpin’ in M Ensemble Company’s Ain’t Misbehavin’, sometime things are sluggish; sometimes you can savor the brilliant lyrics coming from a talented quintet , sometimes you can only understand half the words. The moments that work are a joy to be present for a, some others are a disappointment.
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.
In the current production of The M Ensemble Company, August Wilson’s legendary Seven Guitars almost plays like a musical or a folk opera akin to Porgy and Bess or Floyd Collins.
For those assigned to commit James Weldon Johnson’s narratives to memory in their younger days, M Ensemble’s God’s Trombones will wrap them in warm nostalgia. For others, M Ensemble skillful interpretation should elicit praise for introducing, and keeping, this important treasure of cultural history in the public eye.