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WEDDING BAND Lorna C. Hill Theatre/Ujima Theatre
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May 17, 2024, 11:39
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Through May 19
WEDDING BAND Lorna C. Hill Theatre/Ujima Company


“Wedding Band” is about dreams and illusions, set toward the end of World War I.
Alice Childress sets the action in a small neighborhood in an unspecified place in South Carolina, starting point in the Civil War.
Things are going on: a local resident is home on leave from the military and a mysterious woman has just moved into a room and settled in.
This is a time when the military is segregated, life and transportation are segregated as a result of the Supreme Court’s Plessey v. Ferguson court decision and the federal government is segregated by President Woodrow Wilson.
Even sex is controlled by miscegenation rules.
It was a tough time to be Black and that’s why there is some interest when the Black woman Julia Augustine (Gabriella McKinley) rents a room from Lula Green (Jacqueline Cherry).
She’s a local property owner and mother of soldier Nelson Green (Cordell Hopkins), who is home on leave before going overseas.
There is lots of gossip in this little community, some of it dealing with the sexual activity of one resident who is taking care of her daughter and a White girl of the same age.
Once Julia starts moving around, people discover she’s hiding there to keep a low profile because she has a White boyfriend from a prominent family and a good business.
Julia and Herman (Ben Caldwell) would like to leave town and head North to New York City, clearly hoping to marry and lose themselves in the crowds.
When he comes to visit Julia, Herman falls over ill.
While it’s never explained, it has to be the flu which ravaged the nation and the world in these days at the end of the War to End All Wars.
When Herman can’t go to work in his bakery, his mother (a wonderfully evil Mary Moebius) and his sister Annabelle (Marissa Biondillio) come to rescue him from “those people” in the neighborhood.
Mom and sister drag Ben home, only for him to come back in even worse health.
Those ambitions for the future fade, Nelson’s hope for a better future once the war is over and Julia’s hope for a future with husband Herman.
Lynchings resumed as soon as the war ended and African American soldiers marched home in uniform.
Little changed.
Ujima Company thinks so much of “Wedding Band” that this is the third time the group has staged the Childress play.
It’s the kind of play carrying a message which shouldn’t go outside into the Dumpster.
Director Sarah Norat-Phillips has mixed together a potent plot in harsh times, a good set design from Curtis Lovell and strong performances from Cherry, Caldwell, McKinley, Moebius and Phil Knoerzer as the condescending and racist peddler The Bell Man.
See “Wedding Band.”

A.W.

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