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The Dartmouth
April 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

BUTA stages satire on black life

The Black Underground Theater Association captivated its audience this weekend at Collis Common Ground with its presentation of another funny and thought-provoking production titled "As Yet 'Untitled" and directed by Natalie Herring '95.

As the lights darkened and the BUTA cast took the stage, the audience knew that "As Yet 'Untitled" would be something different. As the sounds of "Bad Mamma Jamma" echoed through the room and the play started, the audience was treated to an often satirical glimpse of black life.

The play was performed in three sketches in which the almost-all female ensemble presented a series of poems by such well-known poets as Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou.

In the first series of sketches titled "Excuse Me,....Madam!" focus was given to a fictional character named Madam Alberta K Johnson. In the brief vignettes following, the audience is made privy to different aspects of the Madam's life including her past history, interaction with the rent man and a past-due phone bill that she refuses to pay.

Herring did a great job weaving together different facets of Madam's life with poems by surprisingly different authors. The BUTA troupe is composed of highly versatile actors and actresses who do a great job juxtaposing humor and wit with deeper emotions such as unrequited love and sadness.

In the second sketch, titled "Love and Happiness" the actions revolved around relationships between black men and women. Such favorites as "I Wrote a Good Omelet" by Nikki Giovanni and "The Lie" by Maya Angelou were performed mostly with monologues addressing love and affection.

In the last sketch, "Keep on Moving," the last four scenes are powerful reminders of the plight of the African American in today's society. "Right Black At You" was a powerful and riveting poem about the enormous problem of fighting cultural stereotypes.

The BUTA cast, composed of a rich and myriad group of individuals, definitely has a bright, bold future ahead of them. Marsha Blake '96, a drama major, is an accomplished actress, winning the distinguished award for Best Actress in the 1992 Eleanor Frosts Plays. Next year, she will make her directorial debut in BUTA. Jamelle Berry '97 and Christine Dankwa '97 commanded the stage with their presence. Kimya Pendleton '96 added a subtle, silent control to her roles, marking them as her own.

Herring did an extraordinary job with this first production with a relatively new group of actors. She invoked comedy and tragedy in scenes that often left the audience wanting more.

Herring added in the program notes to "sit back, relax, laugh, and if something you see strikes a chord with you, nod your head in agreement." The audience felt that the production deserved even more with their thunderous applause.