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BWW Review: PRETTY FIRE at Sankofa African American Theatre Company

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Sankofa African American Theatre Company presents Pretty Fire at Gamut Theatre through August 8th

BWW Review: PRETTY FIRE at Sankofa African American Theatre Company

Charlayne Woodard's Pretty Fire was originally produced in 1993 by the Manhattan Theatre Club. Pretty Fire takes the audience on a journey through memories from her childhood. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, Woodard experienced first-hand the impact of events such as the decision of Brown v. Board of Education and the continued discrimination and segregation in Georgia under Jim Crow. Seeing this dichotomy through the eyes of young Woodard is an emotional and thought-provoking experience audiences will not soon forget. Sankofa African American Theatre Company presents Pretty Fire at Gamut Theatre under the direction of Lyeneal Griffin through August 8th.

The performance features Sankofa's Executive Artistic Director, Sharia Benn as Charlayne Woodard, with Megan Ruoro, Johntrae Williams, and Meredith Greene as her sister Allie, Daddy, Mommy, and various other characters. The staging of this show, is brilliant, with Benn highlighted on stage while Ruoro, Williams, and Greene perform in the stage balcony. This staging, along with the projections and lighting (by Martin Kolb and Tristan Stasiulis), contributes to the feeling of seeing into Charlayne's memories.

Ruoro, Williams, and Greene are versatile and nimble as they quickly move from scene to scene and character to character. Their timing is impeccable as they act out the scenes from Charlayne's memory. Their execution of Griffin's blocking is so smooth that in some scenes the audience actually forgets that there is a literal spatial distance between their action on the balcony and Benn's work on the stage.

Benn is a fantastic storyteller with a commanding stage presence. From the first moment of the performance, she draws the audience in with her movement, expression, and voice. It is a demanding role, requiring seamless movement from the adult Charlayne narrating her story to the young Charlayne acting out the experiences of her childhood. In her performance as child Charlayne, Benn delves into the raw emotions and innocence of a child's mind.

Sankofa's production of Pretty Fire at Gamut Theatre is a beautiful performance that will elicit a range of emotions from the audience. Benn and the rest of the cast will have audiences laughing, crying, and sitting on the edge of their seats. Visit https://www.sankofatheatrehbg.com/pretty-fire to get tickets for this incredible production. For more information on Sankofa African American Theatre Company, visit www.sankofatheatrehbg.com; to learn more about Gamut Theatre Group, visit www.gamuttheatre.org.


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