11/11/07 — Auditions planned for 'Portrait' readings

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Auditions planned for 'Portrait' readings

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 11, 2007 2:10 AM

Tryouts will be held this week for an upcoming Wayne County Reads performance slated for Feb. 8 at Wayne Community College.

The performance will be titled "A Portrait of a People: A Survey of African American Poetry." The material has been compiled by poet Cynthia Rose Howard and includes poems by Phillis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Imamu Amiri Baraka and Nikki Giovanni.

Ms. Howard is looking for teens and adults to come in and read the poems for the performance of "Portrait of a People." The cast will consist of four men and three women. The tryouts are set for Nov. 13 and 19 from 6 until 8 p.m. in the Weil Auditorium of the Wayne County Public Library.

The performance is sponsored by the Wayne County Reads Committee and the Foundation of Wayne Community College. Ms. Howard will direct the performance.

"Portrait of a People" is similar to the "Spoon River Anthology" by Edgar Lee Masters. Ms. Howard and the producer for "Portrait of a People," Margaret Baddour, were involved in a production of "Spoon River" at the college.

"We didn't have any crutches at all during 'Spoon River,'" said Mrs. Baddour. "There was no reading."

The genre is called Reader's Theater, where actors traditionally sit on stools with music stands in front of them so they can read the poems. Ms. Howard said she hopes to have some of both, because some of the poems in Portrait of a People will be better read than recited. There will be rhythm, too, and Ms. Howard hopes to find some actors who can do stepping or drumming -- or both.

While "Spoon River" describes the life of a fictional small town, "Portrait of a People" recounts what it was like during the troubled times portrayed in the book chosen for the next Wayne County Reads project.

The book, "Blood Done Sign My Name," is a true story by Timothy Tyson, who was 10 years old at the time of the slaying of a black man in 1970 on the streets of Oxford.

See the book for details, said Tara Humphries, who is co-chairman of the 2008 Wayne County Reads Committee with Kim Huskins Webb of the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Library.

"Go slow. It's an intense book," she said.

"Blood Done Sign My Name" is the Wayne County community's fifth project of reading a book together.

The first Wayne County Reads project in 2004 featured "To Kill A Mockingbird," by Harper Lee. Then came "Big Fish" by Daniel Wallace in 2005, "Night" by Elie Wiesel and then "Walking Across Egypt" by Clyde Edgerton.

The project of communities adopting single books to read started in 1990, and North Carolina conducted its first community read in 2001 in Watauga County. As each community adopts a book, the state library in Raleigh coordinates the collections.

New Hanover County, which did "Blood Done Sign My Name" two years ago, is sending 50 books to Wayne County's library. The book is also available for purchase at the Wayne Community College and Mount Olive College bookstores and at Books-A-Million.