Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Willie Brown takes the stage

"Da Mayor" was ably represented in front of the footlights last Tuesday by students from Willie L. Brown, Jr. Academy who managed to condense the life of their school's namesake into the half hour play, "The Life and Times of Willie Brown & US."

The children wrote and starred in the play, and painted all of the sets. It was all part of the new Junior Drama Academy and TEEN Theater Arts Program that Bert Bruno and Heidi Hardin have fashioned for Bayview youth.

The play was staged at the Bayview Opera House where Interim Executive Director, Vernon Griggs, welcomed a full house of school children and their parents. Rev. Kenneth Sampson delivered the opening prayer, and young Lamar Turner charmed the house with a powerful delivery of the national anthem.

The young actors brought out the finest of suits and hats to portray Brown in various stages of life, knowing the reputation of their subject for flair. They went on to tell a story they are too young to know first hand, and they told it well.

The sets, large painted panels that drifted through the play, added a stream of color and communicated the breadth of history Brown's life has been part of. The paintings traced time and place from Texas to Sacramento to San Francisco, while at the same timje communicating the joy and long preparation that went in to the "one night only" performance.

After the play, the Honorable Willie Brown himself made his way to the stage to express how thrilled he was about the production. He brought the crowd up-to-date on what he's been up to, including traveling to raise awareness about his book, "Basic Brown."

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