It was a cold night (10 degrees) in January about 6:00 p.m. as I made my way to the neighborhood senior high school in Bedford-Stuyvesant (Boys and Girls High School). My youngest daughter graduated from this school in 1989. She is currently a lawyer and married mother in Birmingham, Alabama. I also know a talented young man who is currently employed by my wife, Angela. Not only did he graduate from “The High” in 1988, but he graduated from New York City College of Technology of CUNY (Formerly known as New York City Technical College) with two degrees in design.
In those years, the school was under the administration of the late Frank Mickens (Mayor of Fulton Street) and was extremely popular with parents, educators and students. Since these days, Boys and Girls High fell on hard times. A community-based group brought in the current principal, Bernard Gassaway as the new principal in 2009.
This production of “Fences” by the reknown playwright, the late August Wilson, was an indication of how far the school has progressed under Dr. Gassaway’s leadership. It was surprising that “Fences” was selected for public production because of its mature subject matter and the fact that the play was recently presented on Broadway starring Denzel Washington.
The director of the production, Kenthedo Robinson, a teacher, who is the advisor of the Boys and Girls High Drama Club, deserves credit for welding the highly successful drama into a major production.
Shatique Earnest Brown played the lead character of Troy Maxson and he was outstanding and no less outstanding was Kiesha Gregory, who played Troy’s wife, Rose Maxson. Both of these students displayed extraordinary dramatic ability and made the subject matter believable.
All of the characters were portrayed by Boys and Girls H.S. students Timothy Thompson, Nikoli Pierre, Bilal Walker, Tervon Twitty and Jasmine Pendelton, who are members of the Drama Club. The scenery, lighting and sound was all done in a professional manner and were evidence of the skills learned as these young people study the subject of dramatic arts. It was two hours well spent and I came away with a good feeling of having witnessed what the young people of my community are up to.
The audience for this Saturday evening event was about 250 people including other pupils, parents and neighborhood residents like myself who came because they wanted to see what the students at Boys and Girls High School could do. We were not disappointed.
This performance of “Fences” will be repeated at Boy and Girls High School on Saturday, March 19 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. and on Sunday, March 20 at 3:00 p.m.