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Arts & Culture

Ujima Company's FREE FRED BROWN! this weekend addresses injustices in front line communities.

Lorna C. Hill, Founder and Artistic Director of Ujima Company, now celebrating their 38th year, continues to build a community to address issues that affect "front line communities" such as Buffalo's East and West sides. "The challenge for the poor is huge. The responses have been minimal." She spoke about the play FREE FRED BROWN! presented this weekend by Ujima in the Paul Robeson Theatre in the African-American Cultural Center on Masten Avenue as a good way to start conversations about moving forward.

According to Hill, the play FREE FRED BROWN!, about a young African-American man who runs up against a major utility company, deals with three injustices facing "front line communities:" Climate Injustice, Racial Injustice, and Economic Injustice.  Addressing all these issues together instead of in isolation makes this a "just transition" play. Using family-friendly language, everyone is invited to enjoy a large diverse cast as they present live theater to begin conversations that can tear down barriers. And, each of the three performances is "pay what you can."

Lorna C. Hill is no stranger to community organizing.

Early in a conversation with WBFO, Hill also spoke about the Ujima Theatre Company (which lost its home on Elmwood Avenue due to a leaky roof) moving into School 77 which has been vacant for years. They will share the school with PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing) and PEACE of the City (which offers "Shakespeare Comes to 716") as well as affordable senior housing on the upper floors.

Ripping out the old school auditorium which was "not very conducive to the kind of theater we do in the 21st Century" they will create a "black box" theater with retractable stadium seating that will hold between 100 and 200 people. But, for now, while they do have permanent offices, their productions are "nomadic" and that's why you can catch them this weekend at the Paul Robeson Theatre, Friday and Saturday June 9 and 10 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 11 at 4:00 at the African-American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Avenue in Buffalo.

Even though "semi-retired," Peter Hall continues to wear many hats. He is the Sunday afternoon host on WBFO’s “sister station,” WNED Classical where he has produced over 1,000 radio interviews with musical artists. If you see him at a theater with a pen in his hand, he’s probably getting ready to co-host “Theater Talk” with Anthony Chase (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO) or to write a review for www.buffalorising.com. He is also a member of the "Artie Awards" committee (think “Tony Awards for Buffalo theaters”).
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