A work by a Tony Award-winning playwright and a piece by UNC alumni make up the most recent production by StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance.
“Acts of Witness” — which opens tonight at the Carrboro ArtsCenter — features Athol Fugard’s “Blood Knot,” as well as the multimedia event “Poetic Portraits of a Revolution” from two UNC graduates.
Fugard, who just finished directing a revival of “Blood Knot” in New York City, will visit Chapel Hill in late March as the 2012 Morgan Writer-in-Residence.
Elisabeth Lewis Corley, a producer at StreetSigns, said Fugard’s upcoming visit was the impetus for the production.
“We heard he was coming and felt it was wrong to not have one of Fugard’s plays on display while he was here,” Corley said.
“His work merits our full attention.”
The story of “Blood Knot” focuses on two half-brothers living in South Africa during apartheid. One appears white and the other appears black, which fuels the play’s conflict.
Joseph Megel, artist-in-residence in the communications department, is the director for both parts of the production.
The show will star J. Alphonse Nicholson, who has performed with PlayMakers Repertory Company, and Lucius Robinson, a UNC alumnus.
Nicholson plays the black brother, Zachariah. His first professional acting performance was with Robinson, and he said he has loved working with him again.
“I learn a lot from him, and every day we find something new in the play,” Nicholson said.
He also said that though the play is set in a specific historical context, the work is timeless.
“The language is very contemporary and everyone can relate to the characters in many ways,” Nicholson said.
Recent graduates and Sacrificial Poets members Kane Smego and Will McInerney created the second part of the production, “Poetic Portraits of a Revolution.”
The work uses spoken word, music, photos and video to tell stories of the recent political uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
Smego and McInerney visited the two countries last summer.
“We like to think of ‘Poetic Portraits’ as picking up where ‘Blood Knot’ left off,” McInerney said. “The same issues still resonate with the events today.”
Corley said the two works were a natural pairing.
“There’s something extraordinary in the connection between Fugard’s work and the work these young people are doing,” she said.
Corley also said the plays can reveal much about today’s world.
“These plays are talking to each other,” she said.
“The message they’re giving us is not about there and then but here and now.”
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