Posts Tagged ‘The Best of Enemies’

The Best of Enemies (Best Drama of 2011) Returns to Barrington Stage October 5-16 [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
 John Bedford Lloyd as C. P. Ellis (photo: Kevin Sprague)

John Bedford Lloyd as C. P. Ellis (photo: Kevin Sprague)

There were many memorable shows this past summer, but none more fascinating than The Best of Enemies which was named the “Best Drama” in our 2011 season roundup. We called it “timely, topical, and intellectually stimulating.” Our full review gives all the details of this fine production.

We are delighted to welcome back this unusual story of a friendship that defied the odds. It will be performed on the main stage of Barrington Stage Company from October 5 to October 16. The Best of Enemies received its world premiere on that stage this past July 21 through August 6.

“The Best of Enemies broke all box office records for a Mainstage play in our 17 year history. But many people in the Berkshire community were not able to see this powerful new play because of its limited summer run so we’re delighted to be able to offer this fall once again.” – Julianne Boyd, Artistic Director

Click to read the rest of this story at Berkshire on Stage.

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LIVE: The Best of Enemies @ Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield [GailSez]

Friday, July 29th, 2011
Aisha Hinds as Ann Atwater and John Bedford Lloyd as C.P. Ellis face off earlier and often in Mark St. Germain's "The Best of Enemies." (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Aisha Hinds as Ann Atwater and John Bedford Lloyd as C.P. Ellis face off earlier and often in Mark St. Germain's "The Best of Enemies." (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Julianne Boyd has done it again! This time she has directed as well as produced another world premiere of a powerful new play by Mark St. Germain that hits at the heart of the current state of race relations in this country by shining the spotlight on an unlikely pair of protagonists. But unlike Freud’s Last Session this is no imagined meeting or possible dialogue. The events depicted really happened and two of the people portrayed in the play were in the audience on opening night, lending their immediate veracity to a story that would be unbelievable if it were offered up as fiction.

Based on the 1996 book of the same name by Osha Gray Davidson (1954- ), The Best of Enemies, dramatizes the relationship between North Carolina civil rights activists Ann Atwater (1935- ) and Claiborne Paul “C.P.” Ellis (1927-2005). Not only is Atwater black and Ellis white, he was, at the start of their friendship, the Exalted Cyclops of the Durham Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. They were brought together in 1971 by a brash young civil rights worker named Bill Riddick to chair a charrette – a ten-day community meeting – to begin the business of desegregating the Durham school system, something that had failed to happen in the 17 years since the Supreme Court decided Brown vs Board of Education.

Needless to say, it was not friendship at first sight. But it was, eventually, a match made in heaven. As the two worked together they realized what they had in common as members of the Southern working poor, trying to do the best by their children and their community. Ellis publicly ripped up his Klan card and joined Atwater in working for civil rights for all Americans. They became fast friends and remained so for the rest of his life. She eulogized at his funeral.

Click to read the rest at GailSez.

LIVE: The Best of Enemies @ Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 29th, 2011
The Best of Enemies @ Barrington Stage Company

The Best of Enemies @ Barrington Stage Company (photo by Kevin Sprague

Let there be no doubt that The Best of Enemies with Aisha Hinds (above leftl) and John Bedford Lloyd (right) is one of the most important historical plays about America to ever reach the stage. It is also the finest drama I have ever seen at Barrington Stage. It is a modern day parable of the civil rights movement of the 1970′s that expands dry, historical fact into a riveting tale of two polar opposites clashing over how to integrate the schools of Durham, North Carolina.

To capture the sweep and detail of the battle for black rights in the South of forty years ago is no easy task. Playwright Mark St. Germain contrasts the role that C.P. Ellis had promoting white supremacy with Ann Atwater, a homespun black activist, who is a rare voice in the community, speaking up for simple justice and equal education. The stage treatment for this explosive confrontation was inspired by Osha Gray Davidson’s book of the same name, The Best of Enemies.

St. Germain has kept his story focused on just a few people, yet these larger than life shapers of history are highly charged theatrically. His approach to detailing the civil rights era comes to life in a way that more scholarly approaches would tend to bland out.

Click to read the rest of this story at Berkshire on Stage.

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