By: Isaiah S. Showell, Follow South Jersey Multimedia Journalist/’What’s Good’ Host
WILLIAMSTOWN, N.J. — Juneteenth has been acknowledged and celebrated by The Grand Theatre in Williamstown hosting its 2nd annual Juneteenth Celebration. In the span of two days, The Grand Theatre had not only an original production by an all African American cast, but it was followed up by another night honoring African American local artists for their contributions to performing arts near and by South Jersey.
Papa May Have, the original production written by Mr. Ty Lewis, was directed by local African American artist and honoree Arthur Taylor who also directed productions The Color Purple and A Raisin in the Sun for The Grand Theatre and says directing Papa May Have was a fantastic experience.
“The fine actors that came on board, everything they did made my job so much easier,” said Taylor. “The blocking and the punches that needed to be added in, when I gave it to them, they did their thing, and it was an honor to direct.”
Danielle Harley-Scott was the Master of Ceremonies for the evening and closed out the event with singing a cover of “Home” from the musical The Wiz. Scott was also very hands on with orchestrating this event and felt it necessary to celebrate African American men for two reasons: all the honorees no matter their performing art testified that performing arts itself saved their lives at one point, and she wanted to create an opportunity to change the narrative of African American men because she feels too often that narrative is a negative one.
Quinton L. Greene and Rashad Malik Davis were also honored for their contributions to performing arts, Greene for his artwork and Davis for his illustrations, character design, and for his work with youth encouraging them to use their creativity and imagination. The event was also filled with performers that were in between honoring the honorees.
The performances included an opera selection from Julie-Ann Green, Medgina Maitre, a student at Temple University studying the harp, played a song on her harp, Beatrice Alonna gave a spoken word performance with the idea of freedom and what it means at the center of the piece, and Viola Taylor danced an original piece for her father, Arthur Taylor. Beaux Emerson opened the show with a song selection before the first award was given.
To The Grand Theatre and all honorees and performers, you all are definitely what’s good in South Jersey!
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