Thursday, July 29, 2010

Oh, What a Show - Four days left to See "Heavy"

I got home late last night after seeing "Heavy Light the Weight of a Flame," the one man show by Ernie Silva, my former 4th grade student from over 25 years ago (facebook, Ed Notes, Huffington Post review).

I know the major stories of the day are the test results, the story breaking just as I was leaving to head into the city yesterday afternoon. I managed to get something up before I left. Many bloggers have been out there - check the blogroll for NYC Educator, Leonie on the parent blog, Perdido, Chaz, Accountable Talk, Queens Teacher, etc. I'm not sure I have much to add but there was so many great comments coming through on the listserves, I'll try to get a few up later.

But I want to talk about Ernie's show. I was joined by Yelena Siwinski - the chapter leader of PS 193K who organized that great video I shot at her school of the teachers singing and dancing to the words of a Grease song they rewrote – her friend and Frank Caiati (who I know from the Rockaway Theatre Company), an actor, director and teacher - I am starting my 4th acting class with him this Sunday.

I had seen the show twice in April when Ernie was the winner of The One festival. Ernie's friend Dino, another one of my former students had been telling me there were changes – the show was tighter and funnier, so I was really looking forward to it.

Last night La Tea theater was packed to capacity. I was somewhat surprised - as was the theater manager who commented on the number of people showing up on a Wednesday night. The show ran an hour and 15 minutes. Ernie on stage for every second. And wow, what a performance. I looked around the audience and people barely moved throughout. I don't believe I've seen such rapt attention focused on one person for such a length of time in any one man/woman show.

I have no ability to review a show like this - I just watched and enjoyed. I was reminded of Asilda Sun's wonderful "No Child Left" in the way Ernie took on the persona of so many different characters. I just loved the southern security guard who began to look like Don Knotts playing a cop as Ernie kept switching in and out of one character after another.

Look, I may be prejudiced and would have liked it under any circumstances. But I could tell from the reactions of Yelena, her friend and Frank that they were very impressed. Frank, a member of Actors Equity and SAG, for a guy not even 25 yet, has as deep seated an understanding about acting as anyone. He picked up on so many of the insights coming out of Ernie's coming of age comedy/drama.

I've been telling teachers that this is a special show for them. How Ernie was disparaged for reading too much and told his fate was drugs. How he lost 8 of his friends to aids, drugs and murder by the time he was 17. I feel this show lays lies to so much of the ed deform crap - Ernie was a good student yet still had to go through so much shit. Unless we as a society figure out how to help tackle the shit kids have to go through we will be pedaling backwards.

Ernie even managed to work my name in - Hey mom, l got a hundred on Mr. Scott's science test.

Must have been a test prep for a science test as that was all my principal was interested in. She tried to keep me from getting that top class because she felt I didn't concentrate on test prep and took too many trips - she even took away my double sized classroom as punishment for threatening to grieve if I didn't get the top class because it was my turn - but I grieved her taking away my room and actually won.


If you are in town and want to see a unique show - you can't get more for $10 - then go see "Heavy Like the Weight of a Flame." You don't need advanced tickets if you get there 15 minutes before.

I'm going back this Friday night when a whole bunch of former students who I haven't seen in 25 years will be there. Contact me if you are interested in going. There are quite a few good restaurants in the area, so let's have a party.


Thursday, Friday and Saturday (July 29-31) at 8:00pm - Sunday, Aug 1 at 3pm


Teatro La Tea (LA Tea Theater)
107 Suffolk St. 2nd Floor
New York, NY
 
 

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