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The Compass Friday, December 5, 1997 9
makes her ‘dream’
of play a reality
Frank G. Scot! photo
LaVonne McClain, director ofThe Glass Menagerie^ coaches Joel Parker on the set.
Family’s bonds tested
by infidelity, job loss,
struggle for dreams
by Troy Lewter
Ask LaVonne McClain what it takes
to be a good director and she'll tell you
"every now and then, you have to be a
In other words, adds McClain, who
is directing The Glass Menagerie for
ECSU's Little Theater, "you have to
take charge and be assertive."
Being a woman director, however,
makes the task somewhat more chal
'They (actors) tend to think that I
wouldn't be as strict as Shawn Smith
might be," said McClain. "They think
that I can be run-over. But I'm not go
ing to have it."
But according to McClain, her project
isn't an authoritarian monarchy. She
strives to provide a "balance" to her
"I try to be nice but firm," she said.
"You don't want actors to hate you.
You have to put in as much as they put
in or even more. Even with the techni
cal crew, I wouldn't ask anyone to do
something I wouldn't do. And also be
understanding. Conflicts do arise."
A director is responsible for much
more than just making sure actors
know their lines, said McClain.
"A director envisions a play," she
explained. "He or she takes a dream
and makes it a reality. You have to po
sition everything just right, such as
blocking the actors' movements, work
ing on set design, making sure cos
tumes, lights, sound and make-up are
as they should be. Basically, a director
is a leader, but still part of a team."
The Glass Menagerie, is a story about
the trials and tribulatioris of one par
ticular family. The mother pushes the
family to be successful so much that
she drives them away. It also a story of
a shy, crippled woman's inability to
relate to the real world.
"What really attracted me to this par
ticular play was that it had a really
dynamic female role," said McClain,
"whereas the last few (theater) produc
tions were male dominated. Not since
Raisin in the Sun has there been a really
strong female role."
McClain believes the audience will
relate to the play on many different
'This play exemplifies real life in that
everything doesn't turn out happily,
(as in a) thirty-minute TV sit-com," she
said. 'The theme of the play deals with
McClain believes that the play's vivid
characters should have wide appeal to
'There are characters that will con
nect with different types of people—
everything from introverts to extroverts
as well as domineering and submis
'This is McClain's second turn at di
recting a major production for the the
ater. She also directed the comedy
Dearly Departed during her Spring 1995
semester. Although Departed was her
directing debut at ECSU, McClain is
no stranger to the theater.
"I have been involved in theater since
high school. I directed a one-act six-
person show called Caged Bird she
said. "I also co-authored an award-win
ning play named Endangered Species
that dealt with the black experience
from slavery to the present day."
Her desire for "a change of pace"
was another reason for McClain's de
cision to direct this play.
"I wanted to try drama, since I had
already directed a comedy," she said.
Although McClain's current cast con
sists of only four people, she finds di
recting this production to be more of a
challenge than the 15-member cast of
"Dearly Departed was easier (to di
rect) because there were so many
people involved in that production that
I really didn't know or get to know
everyone on a personal level," said
McClain. "The Glass Menagerie, on the
other hand, is much more difficult be
cause I know everyone on a personal
level, so I tend to be more lenient. It is
difficult to direct friends."
Khalid K. Baum portrays Tom in the
play, Dorothy Wills appears as
Amanda, Kendra Parker is Laura and
Sam Norman plays Jim.
The Glass Menagerie opens Thurs
day, Dec. 4 at 8:00 p.m. in the G.R.
Little Theater. There will be a second
performance Friday, Dec. 5.
McClain, a native of Asheville, NC,
is a business major with a concentra
tion in management. She hopes to con
tinue with her interest in the theater.
"Hopefully, my career in business
will lead me to possibly owrung my
own theater," she said.
by Hffany Newell and Troy L. Lewter
If you want to see a movie without
gun-toting gangsters and blood, guts
and gore, go see Soul Food. Soul Food is
the family movie of the season.
Tracey and Kenneth "Babyface"
Edmonds were right on target when
they chose to use Soul Food as their
motion picture debut for their new pro
duction company, Edmonds Entertain
"Edmonds Entertainment wants to
make positive films that everyone can
relate to," said Babyface Edmonds. "We
thought Soul Food had this potential."
Soul Food s based on writer/direc-
tor, George Tillman, Jr.'s experiences
as a child growing up in a large Mid
western family. The film is centered
around the Joseph familj^s forty-year
tradition of a large Sunday meal with
family conversation. Mama Joe, the
glue of this contemporary African-
American family, helps to the keep the
peace. But once Mama Joe goes to the
hospital, the family falls apart.
The family's closeness is tested
through trials and tribulations such as
unemployment, infidelity, and the
struggle to achieve dreams. Miles, for
instance, wants to quit his job as a law
yer and pursue his music career. Lem
is fired from his job after his boss finds
out he is an ex-convict.
It is left up to Ahmad (played by
Brandon Hammond), Mama's Joe's fa
vorite grandson, to keep the family to
gether. Ahmad takes to heart what
Mama Joe has said, "You do what you
have to—to stay strong, to save the fam
The "glue" that holds the movie to
gether is the diverse range of talented
actors and actresses whose honest and
emotional portrayals captivate the
audience's attention from beginning to
end. Vanessa Williams gives her best
performance to date as the character
Teri. Williams was both moving and
believable as the anguished wife deal
ing with her husband Miles' adultery
with cousin Faith.
Newcomer Brandon Hammond
seems to be a talent to watch in the
future due to his superb acting skills.
Hammond's handling of the emotional
roller coaster ride that his character
endures proves this to be true. In the
beginning of the the film, when every
thing is going well, he is really happy,
but the loss of his grandmother fol
lowed by several other family crisis
throws him into an emotional whirl
Irma P. Hall, affectionately known as
"Mama", gives the film a refreshing
"down home roots" appeal. She cooks,
dispenses folksy advice and serves as
the anchor that keeps the family stable.
The rest of the cast also does a sensa
tional job with their roles. They include:
Vivica A. Fox as Maxine, who is known
for her roles in Set it Off and Indepen
dence Day , Michael Beach, of Waiting
To Exhale fame, portrays Miles and
Jeffery D. Sams plays Kenny.
All in all. Soul Food is a refreshing
change of pace from the usual gun tot
ing, drug-selling, womanizing depic
tions of the Black community that
dominates the African-American film
market today. It shows the Black Ameri
can for what they predoininately are -
regular people with universal human