The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 7, 2013

Feasting on 'Crumbs': MSU grad Bellamy returns to direct complex racial, social drama

MSU grad returns to guest direct complex racial, social drama

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Bellamy said the characters and stories in "Crumbs" are intensely familiar. As an African-American actor who got his start after MSU instructor Ted Paul recruited him to play a role in "Finian's Rainbow" because he was one of the only students of color on campus in the early 1960s, Bellamy has devoted his career to advocating for social progress through theatre.

Borrowing its title from the Langston Hughes poem "Luck," Nottage's play probes the friction between those content to wait for falling crumbs and those willing to fight for a place at the table. Where Godfrey is hesitant to fight for racial equality, Lily embraces the struggle. Where Godfrey bans dancing, Lily teaches his daughters how to mamba.

Bellamy said he wants that friction to take center stage and has been coaching his cast in using natural speaking rhythms and storytelling traditions, rather than technical acting skills, to bring those elements to the fore.

"I don't want to see craft," Bellamy said, "I want to see the character. ... I recognize each of these characters from the community I grew up in. My job is to give them a clarity and an agency to make them successful."

In his guest return to MSU, Bellamy said he chose the play both for its thematic elements as well its ability to serve as a as a vehicle for showcasing MSU's talent.

Having been on his wish list for several years, Bellamy said the play not only calls for a diverse cast but serves those characters with complex and challenging roles. In many mainstream theatre productions, Bellamy said the roles for African-American actors are often archetypal and secondary.

Haney himself said that despite having an extensive background in opera and classical theatre, he found it difficult to find roles in musical productions because of his color. In other productions, he was sometimes cast in roles for white characters.

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