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Noah Works South African Audiences Before ‘The Daily Show’

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In this photo taken Oct. 27 2009 South African comedian Trevor Noah is photographed during an interview. Trevor Noah, a 31-year-old comedian from South Africa who has contributed to "The Daily Show" a handful of times during the past year, will become Jon Stewart's replacement as host, Comedy Central announced Monday March 30, 2015. Noah was chosen a little more than a month after Stewart unexpectedly announced he was leaving "The Daily Show" following 16 years as the show's principal voice. (AP Photo/Bongiwe Mchunu-The Star)

In this photo taken Oct. 27 2009 South African comedian Trevor Noah is photographed during an interview. Trevor Noah, a 31-year-old comedian from South Africa who has contributed to “The Daily Show” a handful of times during the past year, will become Jon Stewart’s replacement as host, Comedy Central announced Monday March 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Bongiwe Mchunu-The Star)

CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Trevor Noah walked onto the stage and bantered with the South African audience, which whooped in appreciation. That was a cue for the next host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” to launch into a slick riff on the absurdity of high-pitched shrieks of delight.

“When did we get to the point where we stopped using words?” Noah mused. Whooping, he said, was “not a natural black sound” because it “sounds eerily similar to a police siren.”

Noah is on a roll, performing sold-out shows in a 1,800-seat Johannesburg theater ahead of his Sept. 28 start in a job held by Jon Stewart since 1999. It’s a big leap to the big leagues or maybe a jump off a cliff for Noah, a South African who is not widely known in the United States. That’s just comic grist for Noah, who also makes fun of romantic relationships, obsessive cellular telephone use and even South Africa’s era of white minority rule in his stand-up routines at home.

The big question is whether his brand of humor will translate in the anchor’s chair at the parody newscast on the “The Daily Show,” where Noah has already appeared as a mock correspondent. Stewart lampoons American politics, media and culture, and international events are also on his menu. Noah, who built a career in South Africa and has toured internationally (he was in Dubai when he learned he would succeed Stewart), looks forward to broadening his appeal.

“I have to become more global,” he said this month on South Africa’s Radio 702. “I don’t ever dispute that South Africa is my home and that there is news coming from there, but now you have to really go, ‘What is globally newsworthy?'”

It helps that 31-year-old Noah, born to a South African black woman and a white, Swiss father during apartheid, comes across as a chameleon-like figure with a firm grip on all kinds of accents in his routines. An Associated Press reporter attended a recent show at the Montecasino entertainment complex, where Noah hit some topics that, while they might qualify as low-hanging fruit in a comic repertoire, have universal appeal.

“The older you get, the more you start to realize that you can’t win an argument in a relationship,” he said. “You can’t win a fight with your woman. Because if you lose, you lose. And if you win, you lose.”

Noah leaves for a North American tour that has yet to sell out after his five-week run in South Africa, which ends in early July.

In Johannesburg, he worked the audience for one hour and 45 minutes without an interval, and without a momentum-breaking lull. Some humor was physical: silly walks and gestures and bumbling behavior that other comics such as Rowan Atkinson, who played the character Mr. Bean, have used to great effect. Noah’s act was cheerful and generally wholesome, with little sign of the graphic humor noted in some of his past tweets.

Noah was self-deprecating about his new job, casting himself as a new kid on the block, an awkward extra in the glitzy world of superstars. He got a lot of material out of an invitation to the New York Met Gala, where he mixed with Beyonce, Rihanna and other celebrities he said he had “idolized” for years.

“I don’t know how to let loose when I’m dancing to the music and the people that made the music are watching me,” Noah said of a post-gala party. “I’ve never felt so much pressure in my life.”

He let rip on subjects that vex a lot of South Africans, including persistent electricity cuts and a scandal over state spending on the private home of President Jacob Zuma. In the South African parliament last week, an opposition lawmaker who was angry about the scandal complained that ruling party members in the chamber laugh “as if we’re in some Trevor Noah show.”

Some South Africans say Noah’s success will elevate their country’s image abroad. In the Radio 702 interview, Noah said he is heading into uncharted waters as host of “The Daily Show.”

“I’m not even ready for what people will say about me,” he said. The key, he said, is to “just keep doing your thing.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Entertainment

The Mayflower Chorus Presents Spring Show “Higher Ground”

The Mayflower Choral Society is a nonprofit corporation and the parent organization of the Mayflower Chorus, the performing ensemble of the Mayflower Choral Society which supports the educational and cultural benefits of musical performance to its members, the Marin community, and the general public. 

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The Mayflower Chorus will present their spring show “Higher Ground: A Celebration of Music and the Creative Spirit” on Saturday, May 22, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. The free live-streamed celebration can be accessed by clicking on the Events button at www.mayflowerchorus.org/calendar.

 The show will feature songs from diverse genres — rock, jazz, Broadway, and traditional choral. An original composition by David Manley will be presented. Kat Austin, their scholarship recipient, will perform a solo, and Mayflower choristers Kellie Allen and Melissa Muller will lead a sing-along.

Film footage and special effects was added to the spring show to provide the viewer with a full music video experience. 

Choral Director Robert Hazelrigg will conduct The Mayflower Chorus. Music Director David Manley will lead The Mayflower Band. Choreography and costume design is provided by Show Director Cathy Sarkisian. David and Cathy designed and edited the audio/video footage assisted by Gina Chapman.

The Mayflower Choral Society is a nonprofit corporation and the parent organization of the Mayflower Chorus, the performing ensemble of the Mayflower Choral Society which supports the educational and cultural benefits of musical performance to its members, the Marin community, and the general public. 

The Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter seasons culminate in several professional-quality shows with a diverse mix of traditional, contemporary, and original music. In addition to seasonal shows, the Mayflower Chorus also provides vocal entertainment in a variety of musical styles for private, corporate, and community events.

     For more information on the Mayflower Chorus Society, to schedule their small ensembles and/or the full chorus, or to support their educational and cultural programs, go to www.mayflowerchorus.org.

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REVIEW: A Tale of Two Mothers in Radio Play of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”

Mia Lane

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Cathleen Riddley. Photo courtesy of Aurora Theatre Company.

Michael Asberry. Photo courtesy Stuart Locklear Photography

The Aurora Theater is finishing up a run for radio of the stage adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Bluest Eye.” 

Just past Mother’s Day, the tale of two moms, adapted for the stage by Lydia R. Diamond, we meet Mrs. Breedlove and Mama as actor Cathleen Riddley takes on both personas. Perhaps the actor’s success lies in the potential inherent in each of us to do the same if given certain experiences within fixed structural policies or historic mapping.

What does Black geography look like? 

Mrs. Breedlove sees herself as beautiful until she believes the lie. Her melanin too much for a world without color, she frightens her neighbors, even other Black people who are trying to get along and so she stifles her fire; covers her flame until it is little more than a spark, just enough to throw her legs over the side of the bed, put feet into worn, yet comfortably familiar shoes until the weight of her Blackness settles like an anvil upon her once proud shoulders . . . and so, into this world Pecola is born– a beautiful brown baby girl.

     With her marriage to Cholly (Michael J. Asberry), an orphan rescued for a garbage heap, Mrs. Breedlove was so looking forward to this new, sweet life. Leaving behind loved ones — a community reminder to the newlyweds that they mattered —  the newlyweds head north to the bare northern region Lorrain, Ohio, where that sense of self-worth is absent.

All Pecola (Jasmine Milan Williams) wants is for Mrs. Breedlove, her mom, and Cholly, her dad, to love her. Constantly wishing to disappear from the violence and unhappiness furnishing all the rooms in her life, the child notices how in the absent body– her eyes are always left. Her soul refuses to shut its eyes. Perhaps the windows remain open as a witness. Pecola wants to be gone completely– she does not want to take anything forward into the fairy tale captured in films with blonde, blue-eyed heroines or the pretty “light-skinned” girls at school who get all the attention.

Mama, on the other hand, is the mother of Frieda and Darlene (Sam Jackson), two girls who are Pecola’s friends. After a fire, Pecola stays with the girls’ family while their home is being repaired. Pecola has an opportunity to see and perhaps imagine another version of her story. Frieda and Darlene’s mother and father are so different from her own. The story takes place over a season beginning in Autumn.

Dawn Monique Williams, the director, says the Aurora production is for all the Black girls and women who couldn’t find a space to be free, where beauty and liberation were synonymous. 

    “The Bluest Eye” is an adult story, even if the narrator is a child. There is rape, physical violence, and death. It is what one might call a tragedy, so take care of yourself and listen to loved ones. You will want to talk with others afterward. One can feel the love shared among the cast, director, and creative production team. The sound design (Elton Bradman) is marvelous and you will probably never forget this story. We need to be gentle with each other. We literally do not know who is on the other side of the mask, but we can still hold each other in love and light as we recognize their humanity as we look in their eyes as we pass.

    As I spoke to cast members over a week in a series of radio conversations, my suggestion is to listen to all the perspectives. Each is singularly enlightening. It is pretty amazing to watch the actors slip in and out so seamlessly. between personas. There is also laughter and lightness within this story as in life.

    In its 29th Season, it is to its credit that Aurora Theatre allowed Williams, associate director, to take it on a creative journey unlike any before. We hope such excursions continue. Toni Morrison’s work, “The Bluest Eye” is among the classics in the Western canon.

Apply the Family Discount code: BluestCNC50 for half-price tickets: For tickets visit https://www.auroratheatre.org/thebluesteye or call (510) 843-4822

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Residents Celebrate 510 Day, an Oakland Holiday

The holiday started in 2016, when a group of long-term Oakland residents felt that, in the face of Black and Brown native Oaklanders being displaced through the city’s gentrification, a celebration of their cultures was necessary.

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Neptune Jenkins, Tiny Matthews and Zay Coleman at Oakland's 510 Day celebration today near the Lake Merritt Amphitheater. Photo by Zack Haber on May 10.

Demetrius Coats with his legs over his bike’s handlebars as he rides in the bike caravan around Lake Merritt at Oakland’s 510 Day celebration today.
Photo by Zack Haber on May 10.

Over 40 people gathered around Lake Merritt on Monday to celebrate 510 Day, an Oakland-based holiday that honors Black and Brown cultures of the city and their resilience against displacement each year on May 10.

“For us, it’s a protest and a party at the same time,” Leon Skyes, a Black Oakland native who helps organize 501 Day celebrations, told The Oakland Post. “Rather than being targeted, today we’re being celebrated.”

The holiday started in 2016, when a group of long-term Oakland residents felt that, in the face of Black and Brown native Oaklanders being displaced through the city’s gentrification, a celebration of their cultures was necessary. The 415 Day, a San Francisco holiday where residents gather every April 15th in Dolores Park to celebrate against and protest the removal of native SF families, was 510 Day’s inspiration. Both holidays get their name from their city’s respective telephone area codes.

In the years since the first 510 Day, several incidents at or near Lake Merritt have shown the area as a contested place where long-term Black and Brown residents’ acts of celebrating, music making, barbecuing, or simply existing have been under threat.

In the fall of 2016, a woman who lived near the lake called police on Aaron Davis, an 18-year-old Black Oakland native, to file a noise complaint about him playing his drum set. Soon after, Oaklanders rallied behind him with drums of their own to protest the complaint.

In mid-May of 2018, after a viral video showed white Oakland resident Jennifer Schulte calling police on Black Oakland resident Kenzie Smith for barbecuing near the lake, many Black Oakland residents came out to protest the incident by participating in the “BBQ’n While Black” celebration. Later that year, a white jogger threw a Black Oakland resident’s belongings in the lake. The city began evicting many Black and Brown homeless residents from the area and enforcing no camping rules in 2018 as well.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic the lake has become a contested site for informal Black and Brown businesses after residents who live nearby have filed complaints against Lake Merritt vendors selling merchandise without permits.

“Gentrification has created a hostile environment for us where we can’t even just exist without getting the cops called on us,” Needa Bee, who helped start 510 Day and organize its Lake Merritt celebrations, told The Oakland Post.

Bee, also known as The Lumpia Lady, has lived in Oakland for about 30 years and has sold lumpia, a traditional Filipino food, for about 10 years at Lake Merritt. She served free lumpia to those who came to the 510 Day celebration.

The celebration included a bike and car caravan that circled the lake about one and a half times. Bikers, many of whom rode fixed gears and did tricks, lead the way. Demetrius Coleman put his legs up on his bike’s handle bars several times as he rode. 

 At one point, Zay Coleman sat entirely on one side of his bike, only using one pedal to move it as he biked down Grand Avenue with both his legs and his face pointing towards the lake. Cars that had signs attached to them supporting defunding the Oakland Police Department and against gentrification followed along, honked their horns loudly, and blared Oakland musicians like Too $hort. Motorcyclists rode along and revved their engines. Two roller skaters also joined the caravan.

After the caravan, participants gathered at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater to eat food and take photos while some of the bikers continued to do tricks. Neptune Jenkins stood on the frame of his bike while grabbing the front wheel, pushing and pulling it back and forth while continuing to balance. Signs honoring historical Oakland events and famous Oaklanders like basketball player Bill Russell, activists Elaine Brown, Bobby Seale, and Fred Korematsu, musician and dancer Kehlani, and rap groups Hieroglyphics and Digital Underground were lined up in a row at the amphitheater.

Nicole Lee, an Oakland native who helped organize the celebration, described 510 Day as a way to “assert joy at the same time that we’re protesting around Oakland natives and Oakland culture being displaced.” 

The politics of 510 Day were present at the amphitheater, as organizers encouraged participants to sign a petition to be sent to City Council, Mayor Libby Schaaf and county and state leaders to support the #WeStillHere Oakland Platform which outlines nine demands including shelter for all and Oakland’s non-cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

While people celebrated at the amphitheater with music and some drank alcohol and smoked cannabis, the celebration stayed calm, the crowd was not densely packed, and people left well before dark. Although in years past 510 Day in person celebrations included larger, dense crowds and live DJs spinning loud music, organizers intentionally kept this year’s in person celebrations low key as a precaution against spreading COVID-19. The organizers hosted a party on the internet later in the evening with local DJs Kleptic, AbelDee and DJ Fuze.

“While this isn’t physically the largest [510 Day celebration], this has been one of the best ones, just by the heart of the people, the will of the people, and the vibe,” Skyes told the 510 Day celebrators at the Lake Merritt amphitheater. He looks forward to hopefully returning next year with a larger in person party/protest.

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