The Hampton Park
Community Center & Star Productions International presented the award winning
children’s play "The Star That Hangs Closest to the Earth".
Star That Hangs Closest to the Earth"
written by playwright C. Maria Macon carries a theme that "Difference is not
Inferior." The play served as the back drop to the playwright’s exploration
of her own views while wrestling with the issues of polarization in our diverse
culture today. It has also been the tool she uses to help teach youth theatre
and bring people of culturally diverse backgrounds together, while promoting
healthy views about relationships.
introduced Jes, a kingly giraffe played by Antonio Butler and Jared
Martin, and Ayo, a zebra with no stripes played by Ariel Tunson. The
pair finds themselves the talk of the jungle as their animal friends are divided
over their pending romance. With the involvement of several different animals
including a Sankofa bird played by Arron Mutz, there is only one place to
go for advice and so goes the story of The Stars That Hangs Closest to the
The “star” was played by Ona Obiorah.
Community Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created by New Hampton
Presbyterian Church. It is located in one of Charlotte, North Carolina’s oldest
standing Black communities. The center was awarded a Community Cultural
Connections grant from the Arts & Science Council and the Grassroots Program of
the NC Arts Council (a state agency). The grant allowed the center to
collaborate with Star Productions International, the play’s co-presenter.
International is comprised of nine North Carolina artists. At the helm and
serving as board president and CEO is Ms. Macon. "The play used the African
Griot storytelling method of employing animals to express the feelings of humans"
says Macon. "We are blessed to have a creative staff of professional
teaching/artist such as LaTanya Johnson, Trevon Shumpert, Micaila Milburn,
Nevil Butler, Johnny Allen and Janetta Deavers (music
composer) who lend their talents to this production at the Center.
The play's appeal focuses the artists efforts to totally involve young people in
every aspects of theatre (not just acting) by conducting a ten-week theatre camp
prior to the performance. The camp was held from September 11 - November 20 and
was open to children ages 8 - 16. Auditions were held as a part of the total
training for the young actors. Other children in the play and the characters
that they played, were: Teyonika Mason – child #1, Sonna Obiorah
– child #2, Jasmine Copper and Anna Anorue – Ella a female
Peacock, Jesiah Vareene – Gemini an African monkey, De’Mon Brooks
– George the elephant, William Butler – Leo the Lion, Brittney Scurry
and Komeya Brumell – Lyla the lion’s wife, Marqua’ Adams – Le’Roy
a jackle, Tabius Sales and Alton Peques – Roger a rhino,
Demetri Adams – Colour a male peacock, Shacari Neely – Cyr a cheetah,
Leona Vareene – Zaka a femal giraffe, and Tacorya Mason / Tarshima
Mason – Susie a black panther.
As a “treat” for the young
performers, one youth participant received the Director’s Choice Award. This
award is presented to the youth that displays the most willingness to grow,
expand and follow directions during the complete camp. The award category
débuted this year. The Director’s Choice was awarded to Shacari Neely.
Young Ms. Neely will receive a $50 U.S. savings bond every month of 2005 for one
There were many corporate
supporters of the play event and particularly the theatre camp. Some of the
supporters were Rug Busters, Inc., Best Rate Tree Service, Mert’s, TentMakers,
Inc. Rainbow Tree, Inc., Costco, Da’Plum Foundation, B.I.R.S.Co Construction,
Green’s Cleaning Service, Black Rose Designs, Sankofa Photography, and Sycamore
Tree. The organization of Black Business Women, CABWE provided transportation,
Food for the workshops and volunteers for 10 weeks.
International will conduct a theatre camp this summer, which will culminate in a
three-day weekend of performances. They are hopeful of teaming with Mecklenburg
County Park and Recreation planners to serve as a part of the Park and
Recreation Department programming for youth this summer. Applications for the
camp will be available February 2005 through Black Child USA.
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