Here, every performance is an eye-opening night. So forget the MTA trains or the Greyhound bus. Taking Doc’s time machine right back to the theatre is a much more exciting excursion, so gear up for some time travel. Since examining cultural shifts via the arts is essential to understanding our blue-green world, Kingston, New York, home base for Passing the Torch Through the Arts, is an ideal starting point.
This theatre company is constantly taking audiences on a trip, and the best news is there are many places to go.
Hopping briefly back to ancient Rome, we know that the Pax Romana (aka the Roman Peace) lasted for about two hundred years. Compare that to our distinctly varied decades of the twentieth century that have been defined by milestone events that inspired everything from movies to movements to Billy Joel songs. Pop culture would certainly be running on less fuel without historic moments like Pearl Harbor, the tragedy
of the Titanic and the free-spirited Woodstock Festival. Let us not forget the Madonna-esque ’80s and the grunge-inspired ’90s, when having a beeper was actually cool.
Getting up to speed with the twenty-first century, it’s impossible not to notice that most adept at streamlining the times are New York City’s talented DJs. These sound media masters manage to blaze through history musically to deliver everything from Prince to Lady Gaga, all in one remix.
Riding the new millennium wave is Passing the Torch Through the Arts by mixing history and dramatic scripts to create educational theatre that is both culturally significant and entertaining. On an unwavering mission, they are a “culturally diverse, community-based theater company dedicated to education and social change.”
Under the direction and leadership of producer, actor and playwright Michael Monesterial, the company hit the ground running with shows in 2000. Since then, they have developed a strong presence in the Mid-Hudson Valley, turning up at numerous performance venues. With shows that pack a potent intellectual punch, their selected material speaks to the youth, community and generations that have seen the nation go through many social, political and economic shifts.
In 2009, they have already made a notable impression with their work. Their recent shows include a mind-altering presentation of original play King and Kennedy, starring the playwright himself, Michael Monesterial, and regional actors Brett Owen and Soyal Smalls. The show depicted a conversation between Martin Luther King, Jr. and JFK prior to both assassinations. Ms. Smalls played a particularly intimidating and troubled Coretta Scott King in a production that held much appeal to contemporary audiences.
But this is only the beginning, since it seems as though the altruistic mission of those who dedicate their lives to making positive change is never done. After all, saving the Union (a bunch of times) took some effort, as did freeing the slaves (that only happened once) and securing the right for females to vote. Luckily, the right of the people to (peaceably) assemble remains guaranteed by the US Constitution. However, it seems that while the masses are gathered, there is no harm in providing a bit of educational entertainment to move whatever-the-event along.
Answering this call is Passing the Torch, as they have also recently produced an adaptation of the literary classic Of Mice and Men. Currently in the works are To Kill a Mocking Bird and a Harry Belafonte biographical piece. July 2009 opens with a play called Nobody, The Life of Bert Williams and an ongoing New Playwrights Lab in Beacon, New York at the Howland Cultural Center. With so much going on, it would be wise to check out passingthetorchthroughthearts.com to avoid being left out of the loop.
Speaking of time loops, while heading back to the future from 1985 is a little out of the question, at least you can swing back to the past by passing through the theatre.
For all the Sci-Fi junkies out there, you won’t even need a flux capacitor for this trip.