Two Important Events
by Jonathan Gramling
giving local actors a try as well.
Children’s Theater of Madison was another local production company that would do at least one African American-oriented plays per year.
And Patrick Sims used to do at least an annual production including 10 Perfect about the life of James Cameron before he left the UW-Madison
theater department to assume his chief diversity officer and vice-provost duties as the head of UW-Madison DDEEA.
But ever since the Great Recession hit — and I might be wrong here — Black theater in Madison has never quite recovered. Richard Scott has
tried to get Black theater productions going with a couple of plays that he wrote, produced and directed in including Buffalo Soldiers. But it just
seems that all of the variables didn’t line up to sustain regular African American theater productions.
It is for this very reason alone that I hope that people flock to this production of Trouble in Mind. Not only will they be getting entertained by a
high-quality show, but the success of this production would probably cause more predominantly Euro-American theatrical production
companies to take a stab in producing Black plays. So I give kudos to Jan Levine Thail and KRASS Productions for fulfilling Sandra Adell’s
dreams of seeing Trouble in Mind produced locally and hope that they and others will be encouraged to take on other productions in the future.
And while we’re at it, I would just love to see an August Wilson play festival produced here in Madison. What a lifetime experience that would
Another shout-out that I want to make is for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s annual Men Who Cook scholarship fundraiser that will be
happening from 2-5 p.m. on March 9th at Kromrey Middle School in Middleton.
I have been a part of this fundraiser for perhaps the past 22 years, a couple of years before I became the editor of The Madison Times when
Betty Franklin-Hammonds died in 1999. Back then, I was basically a single parent cooking for my son and I. And as the treasurer of the
NAACP Madison Branch, I had an in to join Anthony Brown, Juan José López and others in cooking up dishes for attendees to sample.
It is always a fun event for the cooks as well as the people who come to sample our tasty fair. These are no pork and beans dishes that the
men cook each year. We take this competition very seriously. I will be making my Deviled Corn again this year. There is always Sam Thomas’
barbeque to taste, which is worth the price of admission in and of itself.
There will be about 20 chefs serving up samples of their dishes in the entrée, side dish and dessert categories, trying to convince you to vote
for their dish in their 10 second elevator speech as you move on to the next sample. And whether we admit it or not, all of us want to win first
place in our respective categories. While I used to win or place in the side dish category every year, during the last 5-8 years, the competition
has stiffened and so I feel fortunate to even get third place. The competition — and the quality of the dishes — is just that good.
And of course, the reason why all of us show up on a Saturday afternoon is for the high school graduates who will be receiving scholarships
funded by the proceeds from Men Who Cook. The students are the real winners and all of us — cooks, judges and people who sample the
food — feel good because it is such a wonderful cause.
Last year, around $10,000 was given out in scholarships. So please come out to the 25th Annual AKA Men Who Cook on Saturday, March 9th.
You can purchase tickets from the approximately 50 AKA members who are part of the local chapter or you can purchase them online at www.
kappa-psi-omega.com. Tickets are only $25. They must be purchased ahead of time. There are no sales on the day of the event.
Come out and support the cooks and the scholarship recipients. You will feel good if you do, I guarantee it.
As we seem to cruise right through Black History Month, I do want to give a shout out to the KRASS
production of Trouble in Mind, the play by Alice Childress that Dr. Sandra Adell has been trying to get
produced in Madison for years. It is an excellent play that has attracted some very capable actors to perform
in Adell’s directorial debut.
I have been fortunate to be a witness to Trouble in Mind taking shape. I sat through a read through as the
actors completed the memorization of their lines and then attended the dress rehearsal the day before
opening night. The play is so well-written and the actors are so absorbed in their characters that it makes
Adell’s vision for the play come to life. I found myself chuckling and downright laughing during portions of
the play and speechless as the play’s dramatic ending unfolded. It is a play that I highly recommend you to
The play took me back to over a decade ago when the Madison Repertory Theater was still in existence and
went on a hot streak of producing several plays about equity and had true multicultural casts. If I recall, they
seemed to produce one August Wilson play per year. I remember their production of Fences starring Roscoe
Orman. The Madison Rep did a great job of bringing in regional and national African American talent and