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Archangels of Funk Musically Advises: 'Dance Life'

On Saturday, November 6, a new musical play by Andrea Hairston, professor of theatre, will receive its Smith premier during a staged reading, by members of Chrysalis Theatre, at the Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre, Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, at 8 p.m.

The play reading is part of the events celebrating Otelia Cromwell Day, which took place on November 2.

The play, titled Archangels of Funk, uses a variety show format of “interviews, romance, gossip, news, the Blues, and radical views, even a mini-drama series and a rant or two” in exploring the possibility of soul repairs in an age of terror and plagues, according to a press release about the production. “Archangels’ host asks us to ‘Dance life,'” says the release, “but if you trip and stumble, then sing life. And if your voice cracks, let your heart keep time. And if your heart gives out, with your last breath leave your story behind. And if you are forgotten, come to us, in dreams and visions. Shake us from these death-like trances. Haunt us, hound us, like demons. Until we cannot forget that some slow, shuffling death is not the dance that is life.”

Archangels of Funk will be performed by Hairston, Greg Alexander, Cinamon Blair, James Emery, Erika Ewing, Pan Morigan and special guest Joy Voeth. The reading will incorporate music by Morigan and the performers.

Archangels garnered Hairston an invitation from the Canadian Theatre Festival, and an MCC 2003 Playwriting Fellowship. A section of Archangels of Funk was a finalist for the 2003 Heideman Award (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville).

Hairston has received several awards for playwriting and directing, including a Ford Foundation Grant, an NEA Grants to Playwrights, and a Rockefeller-NEA Grant for New Works.

Chrysalis Theatre is a cross-cultural, multidisciplinary performance ensemble that has presented innovative and progressive cultural works in western Massachusetts since 1978. The company has produced more than 30 original productions, frequently using the medium of performance to explore social issues.

The play reading is funded in part by grants from the Office of Institutional Diversity, theatre department, and the New England Foundation for the Arts and Meet The Composer, Inc., with support from ASCAP, the Virgil Thomson Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Northampton Arts Council, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

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