Court Theatre on the campus of The University of Chicago brings works to its stage that are “think pieces”. After all, they are on one of the top university campuses of the world. They are well known for their solid productions of the works of August Wilson. Before Mr. Wilson brought his works, works that depict the problems of the social changes for the African American back in the mid 1950’s and 1960’s and upward, there was an ensemble called the Negro Ensemble Company and in 1981, they produced a play called “Home” written by Samm-Art Williams, a poetic story depicting the life of a North Carolina Farmer back in the late 50’s. This brilliant work is a long one act play featuring three strong actors and directed by Award winning director Ron OJ Parson.
“Home” is a story about change, about hope and of how the human spirit can bring one past the upheavals that were faced during this era. The main character of the story is Cephus Miles ( a powerful performance by Kamal Angelo Bolden) a young farmer who loves the earth and the dirt as did his grandfather. We watch him meet many characters, all played by the ensemble of Ashley Honore and Tracey N. Bonner. These two women take on many characters of many ages and genders, with Bonner carrying the heavier load. Honore plays as one of he characters, the first love for Cephus, Pattie Mae, who he is supposed to be betrothed to. While they are very much in love, her family sends her off to college so that she will not endure the life of a poor farmer.
As the years go by, the economy begins to worsen and Cephus ends up losing his farm and home. He gets tired of waiting fr the Lord to answer his prayers and ends up in jail for spitting on the American flag. When he comes out, having lost all he had,he travels east taking on jobs that he doesn’t like and meeting fast women who lead him down a path he is not prepared for. Through his ups and downs, he still dreams the dream, that one day he will have the happy life that he had thought would be his. He gets involved with drugs and booze and finds himself hitting rock bottom, all the while hoping against hope that one day, his prayers will be answered and he can get back to his true love, the earth and dirt of his home, Crossroads.
As the years go by, and all appears to be lost, he gets a letter telling him to return to Crossroads and with the letter, the deed to his property. Someone, unknown to him, as purchased this land and home and is giving it back to him. He hops the Greyhound bus and heads on to regain his past as his future. What he finds out is that Pattie Mae, who had married well was the person who sent him the deed and that she is back in his life- forever! This is a beautiful story told as only Parsons can do- with heart and soul. There are many funny moments and a lot of warmth and sentiment. Jack Magaw’s set is fairly simple as are the costumes by Rachel Laritz. Kathryn Bostic’s musical selections bring the scenes together along with some wonderful lighting effects by Heather Gilbert. This is a painting of the times and Parson puts the paint on the canvass just the way Williams wrote it.
Once again, Court Theatre brings to life a story that is based on the African American experience, and another in a long line of plays that show us that the suffering and pain of life can be remedied by the hope and rising to the ocassion by the people depicted. “Home” will continue at The Court Theatre located at 5535 S. Ellis through December 12th with a performance schedule as follows:
Wednesday and Thursday 7:30 p.m.,Friday at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m., Sundays at 2;30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The play runs about one hour and forty-five minutes with NO INTERMISSION
Tickets range from $30-$60 and are available at the box office, by phone at 773-753-4472 or online at www.CourtTheatre.org
There is plenty of free parking in the lot next door to the theater