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Undermain Theatre Presents A Juneteenth Documentary Festival Focusing On African American Artists

The documentary series will replace the previously announced production of Lonesome Blues.

Undermain Theatre Presents A Juneteenth Documentary Festival Focusing On African American Artists

Undermain Theatre will be rescheduling the planned coproduction of Lonesome Blues to its upcoming 38th season. This decision was made in an effort to ensure that the production can be performed live and enjoyed by audiences as the live event it was created to be. We look forward to live audiences watching and enjoying the music of Blind Lemon Jefferson in the o historic Deep Ellum performance space. The rescheduled production dates will be announced soon.

In its place, Undermain will present a mini festival of documentaries focusing on African American artists from Texas and around the country, produced by Documentary Arts and directed by Alan Govenar, coauthor of "Lonesome Blues." Included in the films we will feature are Deep Ellum Blues, Osceola Mays: Stories, Songs, and Poems; Little Willie Eason and his Talking Gospel Guitar; Black on White/White on Black; The Hard Ride: Black Cowboys at the Circle 6 Ranch; Cigarette Blues; You Don't Need Feet to Dance and a special screening of the short film "Bird Brains," directed by Kaleta Doolin (with camera by Govenar.) This is a rare opportunity to view these films featuring individuals and artists, who have made enduring contributions to the vitality of cultural life.

Tickets will go on sale soon.

Here is a brief description of the documentaries:

The stories, songs, and poems of Osceola Mays are remarkable indeed. In them, the past is recounted with a reverent intensity that expresses the deeply felt emotions of three generations of black Texans. The harsh realities of segregation and discrimination are juxtaposed with the importance of family and community life in these spirituals and poems learned by Osceola Mays from her mother, Azalene Douglas, and her grandmother, Laura Walker, who was ten years old when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed to end slavery.

Little Willie Eason takes the stage of the street and a House of God south of Miami with his talking, gospel, steel guitar, and performs in a musical style he pioneered in the 1920s that reached its pinnacle in a stirring tribute to the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The film premiered at the SXSW 2010 Film Festival.

Black on White/White on Black is an intimate and humorous look at the life and career of the legendary blues pianist Alex Moore, the first Black Texan to receive a National Heritage Fellowship. Moore taught himself to play the piano by watching others and practicing whenever he got a chance. The film shows his mastery of the piano at a tribute held in his honor at the famous Majestic Theater - his last public performance.

The Hard Ride is an intimate look at black cowboys as they gather for a rodeo and dance on the 40 acre Circle 6 Ranch in Raywood, Texas (between Houston and Beaumont.) Black cowboys drive their horse trailers onto the ranch. A.J. Walker reveals that as many as four generations of cowboys are involved in this event. Before he and his father started this ranch fifty years ago, Walker himself had worked as a cowboy on white-owned ranches in this area of southeast Texas and because of the racial discrimination against black cowboys, he decided to start his own rodeo. In the film poignant stories and songs, as well as foodways, crafts, blues, zydeco, and cowboy poetry, evoke the unique ways this community has combined Anglo-European traditions with distinct African-American perspectives.

Cigarette Blues features Sonny Rhodes and the Texas Twisters performing at Eli's Mile High Club in Oakland, CA. Originally included in a set of three short films entitled "Living Texas Blues."

An astonishing documentary about a man who overcomes his disability one day at a time, Alan Govenar's new film reveals the extraordinary life of African immigrant Sidiki Conde. Sidiki lost the use of his legs to polio at age fourteen. Today, he balances his career as a performing artist with the almost insurmountable obstacles of day-to-day life in New York City. From his fifth-floor walk-up apartment, he traverses down the stairs on his hands and then navigates in his wheelchair through the sidewalks of Manhattan onto buses and into the subway. Despite his disability, he manages to teach workshops for disabled kids, busk on the street, rehearse with his band, bicycle with his hands, and attend a naming ceremony, where he plays djembe drums, sings, and dances on his hands...proving to all You Don't Need Feet to Dance.

Deep Ellum Blues explores the 1920s and 1930s nightlife in Dallas through stories told by people who lived through the waning years of the Deep Ellum Blues scene and the music of Bill Neely. Together they relate memories of the neighborhood from the segregated clubs to the music which broke down barriers between people.

Bird Brains is an experimental short by artist and filmmaker Kaleta Doolin that connects the mating rituals of birds to the playfulness of thumb wrestling.

Ticket pricing: $20. Visit www.undermain.org to purchase tickets online.


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