In life, you get what you inspect, not what you expect. The summary of significant theater events of 2008 by your well-intentioned, yet often culturally benighted, writer reminded me of this fact.
So as a member of the professional theater community, I wanted to add to the list of local accomplishments ("A curtain call for Nashville theater in 2008," Jan. 1) something significant that happened with Amun Ra Theatre (ART).
According to Tennessee historian Dr. Bobby Lovett, there has not been an African-American owned and operated theater facility in Nashville since The Majestic in 1907. This changed in 2008. Over the course of a weekend in October, ART transformed a run-down former mosque and pool hall into a 50-seat theater with a box office, jazz lounge, dressing rooms and parking on Clifton Avenue. The project brought together close to 100 volunteers and was a part of USA Today/USA Weekend's National Make a Difference Day Campaign. Several local corporations and individuals pitched in, during the toughest of economic times, to accomplish this amazing feat.
I say "amazing" only because this makes the Amun Ra Theatre Playhouse the first facility of its kind in over 100 years. ART is steeped in African-American culture, but has built a diverse base of supporters, having performed at every major venue in town including TPAC, The Belcourt, the Ryman, TSU, Fisk and Looby Theater. Our base of support is what not only gives us full houses when we do perform shows, but what enabled us to pull off something that seemed impossible, especially for a professional company that is only 7 years old.
To the rest of the media world's credit, Amun Ra's accomplishment has been duly noted with coverage in the majority of the Nashville print publications, as well as local television and radio stations—in addition to VoiceAmerica Network, NPR and a feature by the Associated Press within the next few weeks.
Information on this event was provided to your fledgling theater writer well in advance. For some reason, he disagrees with the city, historians the local and national media on the significance of a brand-new professional theater being built.
To be frank, he misses a lot, but my optimistic nature attributes that more to unsurprising naïveté than to malice. I offer your paper this information now in hopes that the Scene would not be seen, in hindsight, as a solitary island, detached from major events on the cultural landscape, simply because one of their writers, in a critical early stage of his artistic understanding, let something this powerful pass over his radar.
ART will continue to do our best to let the world know that Nashville is growing, that culture is flowing and that the next generation of great theater artists are being born not in New York or L.A., but right here at home in 2009.
jeff obafemi carr
Founder and Artistic Director
Amun Ra Theatre
A word on the fedora fetish
Far be it from me to tell anyone their opinion is wrong, but...your opinion is wrong ("Hat Rock: A Nashville Concern," Nashville Cream, Jan. 6). Yes, most of the people who wear the hats don't know what they are doing and look like twats. But that is the case when they go hatless, too. Say what you will about him, Pete Doherty looks good in a "fancy" hat. I think it's all in the way you wear it. I tend to try to go for a dressed-up look when I wear mine—at least suited up above the waist, tie and all. And never a porkpie; those are totally pants.
You look like a jackass if you're rocking a fedora with a t-shirt, but only loser Fall Out Boy-types do that, and obviously they are already prone to jackassery. Okay, so maybe I'm guilty now of doing the same thing you are doing—putting everybody in one big dumb box. Apologies to you, all you Fall Out Boy-loving losers. But zero points for you, Cream writer.
Save your ire for the backwards baseball cap. Nothing says "I like all kinds of music" (which basically means "I don't really like music") better than a backwards baseball hat.
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