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Jan. 25, 2000

The bridge party' inspired by local woman's family's stories

EAST LANSING, Mich. - "The Bridge Party," a play by East Lansing resident Sandra Seaton, dramatizes the strength of black women as they cope with a house-to-house search of the black community in the wake of a lynching.

The Michigan State University Department of Theatre will present "The Bridge Party" in the MSU Arena Theatre at Jan. 27-30.

Show times are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, 8 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Seaton, an MSU alumnus, wrote the play based on stories family members told her when she was growing up in the South. She says it is not a "docudrama," but rather a presentation of the way of life of middle-class blacks in the South before the modern civil rights movement, of a part of the African American experience that has often been overlooked.

Cast members include actresses Adilah Barnes, who appeared in the television series "Roseanne," for five seasons, and Amentha Dymally, who was recently seen in Camille Cosby's Black College Touring Production of "HAVING OUR SAY."

A one-day symposium titled "RACE, GENDER AND THE AMERICAN THEATRE," co-sponsored by the MSU Department of Theatre and the MSU Women's Studies Program, will be held at 1:30 p.m. in the Fairchild Theater Thursday, Jan. 27.

The keynote speaker for the symposium is Jean-Claude van Itallie, a distinguished playwright, actor and adapter from New York. Responding to his remarks will be Kathy Perkins of the University of Illinois and Judith Stephens of Pennsylvania State University, co-editors of "STRANGE FRUIT: Plays on Lynching by American Women" (Indiana University Press, 1998). Patricia Barnes-McConnell, MSU professor of resource development, will serve as the moderator of the panel.

At 3 p.m. a panel will discuss African American music and culture of the 1940s. James Standifer, professor of music at the University of Michigan, who wrote the score for "The Bridge Party," Robin Hough, professor of religion and philosophy at Central Michigan University, and Wayne Shirley, a researcher with the U.S. Library of Congress, will talk on the music of that period.

For more information about the production, contact Dixie Durr, chairperson of the MSU Department of Theatre, at (517) 355-6690.</