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Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Westport Playhouse Hosts Multicultural Group Discussion

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The backdrop was Harlem of the 1940s. The discussion was Westport of 2003. Trying to bridge the decades and differences held the attention of dozens of Westporters late Monday evening following a performance of the Westport Country Playhouses latest offering, ғThe Old Settler. The play, by the late John Henry Redwood, is the story of two middle-aged sisters living together in a 1940s Harlem apartment. They are reminded of the importance of family following the visit of a handsome Southern gentleman.
Anne Keefe, associate artistic director of The Westport Country Playhouse (L), introduces “The Old Settler” company Monday night. They include (L-R) director Tazewell Thompson, actors Brenda Thomas, Tina Fabrique, Edward O’Blenis, and Cherise Boothe.  WestportNow.com photo
Using the playhouseԒs talk backӔ interactive format with the audience, a new group, Westport TEAM, sponsored the discussion. It was the first event held by the group whose aim is celebrating diversity in our community.Ӕ The plays director, Tazewell Thompson, told the audience the play opened a window for Westporters on a life unfamiliar to many here. ғIt allows a community like Westport to see a different kind of culture, he said. ԓThere are so many stories (in life) that come up over and over again. They can peer in and look and discover things through the theater. Brenda Thomas, who plays one of the sisters, said the play was ideal for the eveningԒs discussion. Diversity projects are successful when people identify the human element and the comedic element,Ӕ she said, implying that Old SettlerӔ did just that. There is something deeply human about this play,Ӕ Thomas said. The appeal of the play is that people can really connect with the characters.Ӕ Asked by an audience member if the cast members thought the play was getting to Westports mostly white audience, Thomas said: ғIf you sit and listen to the interaction of people, it doesnt matter what color they are.Ҕ Harold Bailey, chair of the Playhouse Marketing Committee, is a founder and chair of TEAM Westport.  Founding members include Diane Goss Farrell, Westport’s First Selectwoman. The Old SettlerӔ runs until Aug. 2.


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