A conversation with the sound designer

Bourbon at the Border‘s sound designer, Cecil Averett, sat down with me last week to talk about the collaborative process, the emotional connections a melody can evoke, and some damn good music. Watch the video:

Cleage’s Early Career

Clearly, Pearl Cleage is currently primarily known as a novelist, playwright and poet. However, as pointed out by an audience member at last weekend’s post show discussion many people from Atlanta first recall her from her more publicly political years. In her early career she worked a number of media jobs, most prominently as press secretary and speech writer in the 1970’s for Maynard Jackson, the first black mayor of Atlanta. Additionally, she often wrote for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Atlanta Tribune. In 1991 she won the outstanding columnist award from the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists. Since her early days in which the public saw her more as a public political figure she has taken the political into the personal through her fiction works. This can be seen through a number of her works including Deals with the Devil, Some Things I Thought I’d Never Do, and Bourbon at the Border, currently playing at Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater.

Freedom Summer School

Two girls hanging out of a window at Freedom Summer School.

The Motivation behind the Words

In several of the post show discussions for Bourbon at the Border questions regarding the motivation behind Pearl’s writing have come up in reference to the powerful subject matters used in her writing. In a general sense, Cleage is zealous with regard to issues of black life she feels the need for a forum for discussion and promotes practical education whenever possible.  Cleage dives into race, sex and love “in a growing body of literary work while she reveals poignant truths about brave black women.”  She states “The purpose of my writing, often, is to express the point where racism and sexism meet.”

Below is a snippet from the article Home Time and Island Time regarding Pearl and her writing influences:

“Two regular-size windows in Cleage’s office that are anything but regular when it comes to influencing her writing. ‘Through those windows I can watch my neighborhood go by,’ Cleage says. ‘I watch girls getting pregnant too soon, guys hard eyed and looking mean whom I knew as cute four year olds. By choice, I don’t leave my Southwest neighborhood much, and these windows are my windows to all of it…….The contradictions that I write about in my novels are here everyday. Some writers write about blacks, but they never see blacks.'”

An interview with the director and producer

A few weeks ago, director Ron OJ Parson and I sat down with Dr. David Unumb, host of Northeastern Illinois University‘s Vantage Point radio show (which airs Sunday mornings at 6:30 on WTMX), for an in-depth interview about Bourbon at the Border, Pearl Cleage and Eclipse Theatre Company in general.

In case you weren’t up early enough on Sunday morning, you can listen to the full half-hour interview by clicking here (the link will open a file you can play on your media player).

I should note that because we had not found our fantastic lighting designer, Gina Patterson, at the time we prepared a press release for this interview, Dr. Unumb refers to me as the lighting designer. Thankfully, Gina joined us shortly after that so I was able to focus on producing instead of trying to wear multiple hats.

A video interview with the dramaturg

Our dramaturg for Bourbon at the Border, Sarah Moeller, sat down with me yesterday to talk about the process and the research she put together for the cast and crew:

Watch a scene from Bourbon at the Border

Act 1, scene 5, to be exact – I filmed this during a tech rehearsal a few days before the show opened. Watch for Kat Saari, our fantastic stage manager, calling sound cues in the foreground.

You can watch this same scene at Stagechannel.com, filmed a few days later with a much better camera.