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BWW Review: Powerful CAPERS Returns at Forum Theatre

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Act locally, think globally is exactly what happened to Anu Yadav's innovative piece of activist theatre, "'Capers." Her finely observed, remarkably accomplished reflection of families at a D.C. housing project forced from their home for development has come a long way since it first appeared more than a decade ago.

Because of the specific truths she gleaned from all sides of the impending demolition, it was able to travel nationally and has been used in high school and university curricula and seen in the documentary "Chocolate City."

Returning to the piece for a limited run that kicks off the new season at Forum Theatre, at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre where Round House used to be, it's clear that the talented Yadav is still very close to its characters, who stand out so vividly in the one-woman production directed and developed with Patrick Crowley.

The current co-production with Dog & Pony DC requires little more than a chair and a table, but also a whole lot of room for the dozens of characters that appear kaleidoscopically through Yadev's tiny frame.

She points out in the play, named after the nickname for the Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg public housing project it concerns in Southeast, that she became acquainted with the housing struggle of the Friends and Residents of Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg and its issues when she was teaching creative writing at its recreation center.

There, recreating the voices of the young people she teaches, or the wise older women who try to organize or the unreliable hands diminished by the drug scourge, the full portrait of the all too common drama emerges as well as clearly articulating the issues in affordable housing and relocation.

At times, it seems like dozens of people populate especially the community meetings in the play, but it is only Yadav on stage, and she is able to embody their pain and dignity not only through her voice, but also through stance and gesture. Humanity is also given even to what would be the usual villains in the scene, the public housing officials, who maintain they're also trying to the right thing.

The tour-de-force of the young artist has been multiplied no doubt as it brought the specific issues of the now mixed-income community now known as Capitol Quarter to recognizing audiences in urban areas across the country.

And it was brought in more vivid relief by some of the most involved after-play discussion groups I've seen, in one case involving a whole group of the people affected by that action more than a decade ago (and who were possibly being specifically portrayed on stage as well).

As the passionate voices spoke of organizing and community and continuing the battle against clearing communities for development, Yadav sat quietly, perhaps taking mental notes for future plays.

Seventy minutes with no intermission.

'CAPERS closes with a performance Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. the Forum Theatre at the Silver Spring Black Box (formerly Round House Silver Spring), 8651 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD. Tickets available online.

Photo credit: Britt Olsen-Ecker Photography


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