The Mayor and Committee of the Township of Union will be hosting their 3rd Annual Black History Month Celebration on Saturday, February 24th with a staged reading of the acclaimed play The Amen Corner by James Baldwin. The event will take place at 1:00 p.m. at Central Five- Jefferson School on Hilton Ave in Vauxhall.
“We are so excited for this year’s program- not only because of its power to bring our community together, but because it’s another way to expose our residents to the arts in an original and relatable way,” said Suzette Cavadas, Mayor.
The Amen Corner is a three-act play by James Baldwin, first published in 1954. It was Baldwin's first attempt at theater following Go Tell It on the Mountain, and addresses themes of the role of a church in an African-American family and the effect of poverty, born of racial prejudice, on an African-American community.
The Amen Corner takes place in two settings: a ‘‘corner’’ church in Harlem and the apartment dwelling of Margaret Alexander, the church pastor; her son, David; and sister, Odessa. It is a moving drama which examines issues of community, faith and forgiveness, and is filled with evocative music and language to stir the soul.
The performance is being directed by Vauxhall native Daryl Stewart. Stewart grew up on Hilton Avenue and fondly recalls staples of his childhood there.
“My cousins and I spent bright summer mornings at “The Box” with Miss Bailey on the Central Five School playground; and on Friday nights, Joe's Pizza was the standard and staple for dinner,” Stewart said. “Saturday nights were for skating at Skate 22 unless I had intense rehearsals for the musicals and plays at Union High School.”
According to Stewart, the Vauxhall section of Union was his hometown but the theater was truly his home. As a result he is proud to be returning to where it all started to share his craft with the community that nurtured him.
“There is not a more appropriate art form for me to serve and honor my community with than theater, and there is not a more appropriate time for this play than right now,” Stewart said.
Stewart is an actor, director, performing and teaching artist, and arts advocate. He is a theater teaching artist at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, New Jersey. There he has collaborated with several dozen schools, groups and arts organizations teaching, curating and creating musical theater, dance and drama programs. He also serves as a lead teaching artist for the internationally recognized Disney Musicals in Schools program.
His theater credits include memorable roles in Five Guys Named Moe, My One and Only, Ragtime, Little Shop of Horrors, The Wild Party, Leader of the Pack, Carousel, Into the Woods, Oliver Twist, and Disney's Aida. TV/Film credits include Lipstick Jungle (NBC), School Spirits (SYFY) and 106 & Park (BET).Stewart's self-produced original one man show "Fully Versatile" premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizon, NYC.
Tickets for The Amen Corner are now on sale and can be purchased at Town Hall, 1976 Morris Ave, Union, NJ 07083. The cost is $8 regular admission and $5 for senior citizens. Limited tickets will be available for purchase at the door.
For more information on the Township of Union Black History Month Celebration, or to reserve tickets, contact the Office of Public Information at 908-851-5096 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.