The first words that came to mind after watching the Capitol Area Performers in “Long Time Since Yesterday” was powerful and awesome. The play written by P.J. Gibson was directed by Vanessa Cunningham Sanders and produced by Claudia Allen was at the Black Child and Family Institute, 835 W. Genessee, Lansing, MI. The tickets were only $15.00 and it ran from March 17, 2005 – March 26, 2005.
It was a play about five women coming together at the funeral of their close friend. It also had themes about friendships and relations as they grow and change over time. This drama deals with adult themes and was not recommended for children under thirteen.
One of the first scenes in the play was in the 1950’s on the porch steps with two young girls playing. Their conversation reminisence of a conversation that you may have had between your peers about the birds and the bees when you were young. Niasha Donley played “Young Janeen Earl-Taylor” and Awsha Wells played, “Young Laveer Swan.” Both young women were exceptional in thier parts.
The second scene was twenty-seven years later, at the home of a deceased friend. The story begins to unravel like a ball of yarn dropped from the Empire State building.
This play had strong passionate actresses. It took the force of the the subject matter and made you deal with many issues that you may not have thought about in a long time.
Jill Abendroth who played “Alisa Myers-Reynolds” is the real life mother of four children and ws excited to be in her first play and also working with her daughter Niasha in the production.
The play has its comedic moments as well. From ”Babbs Wilkerson” played by Toni Rambo who gave accounts of what it was like being in love, light-skinned and lonely but always in a inebriated state. Her main attention usually focused on Barbara Davis “Dr. Thelma Carlson” who even though educated had dark psychological demons to deal with herself.
Chanita Dunham who played “Janeen Earl-Taylor” delivered her lines with realism. She told a story of trials and tribulations that was heartfelt and agonoizingly beautiful.
Charissa Marie Patterson wo played “Laveer Swan” and Nadia Sellers “Panzi Lew McVain” performances were passionate and fearless as their lines intertwined with one another during the production you wondered where their interaction would climax. When realizations were told it was dramatic and still left you wanting to see it again or the sequel to it.
The leadership of Vanessa Cunningham, Director, has been proven by her involvment with community theater for more than ten years. She has worn many hats and has has been in volved with many productions including “The Wiz” and “Purlie”. Knowing that she would need a solid information in order to hone the craft that she loves, she aligned herself with the National Black Theater Festival in North Carolina.
Claudia Jean Allen, the Producer/House Manager, has been in love with theater since she was a theater minor at Michigan State University (MSU). She has written, directed and acted in several church and community productions over the past 10 years.
Also contributing to this play was Evon Anderson, Properties Mistress and Back Stage Manager; Ann Glen, Technical Director; Stephanie Jackson-Gwin, Make-up Artist; Bernie Lucas, Production Assistant; Guy Thomas, Assistant Directorand Rico Bruce Wells, Lighting Director.
No one walked out of this production without thinking, “Why does not Lansing support plays like this?” If you missed this sharp thought provoking play, look for the Capitol Area Performers in the future and go twice. This small but impressive production would have made a triumphant arrival onto the New York off Broadway scene.
What ever your issue was not seeing this wonderful play, you missed out. Hopefully, you will be lucky enough that they may do it again so that you may experience a play that hurts in the best possible way.