Caroline Lukasik’s acting resume isn’t very long, but it is quite varied.
The 14-year-old Colonie High freshman is part of the cast of “Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities,” opening Friday at the African-American Cultural Center of the Capital Region on South Pearl St. in Albany. The characters she takes on in the 1991 work by MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Anna Deavere Smith are black and Jewish.
‘Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities’
WHERE: Callaloo Theater, African-American Cultural Center of the Capital Region, 135 South Pearl St., Albany
WHEN: 3 and 7:30 p.m. today, 3 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15, and 6 p.m. Oct. 16
HOW MUCH: $20
MORE INFO: 227-0154, or contact [email protected]
“I play a Haitian teenager who finds out that she is actually black,” said Lukasik. “It’s a very nice play, but the topics are kind of depressing. It’s about the biases of people mainly directed at black and Jewish people.”
“Fires in the Mirror” was originally a one-person play by Smith, chronicling the viewpoints of people from the black and Jewish communities in reaction to the Crown Heights riot, which occurred in Brooklyn in August of 1991.
The play is a series of monologues from interviews done by Smith with people involved in the crisis. Included in the play are two interviews with black activist Al Sharpton, played by Jessica Paul, a white actress.
“I’ve tasked Jessica Paul, an Irish-American actress, to perform the words of Rev. Al Sharpton,” said Karen Christina Jones, who is directing the project for a new acting troupe, the Callaloo Theater Company. “It keeps with the objective of the playwright to ignore color and concentrate on the message.”
The Crown Heights riot occurred in a racially divided neighborhood when a Jewish man unintentionally veered his automobile onto a sidewalk, killing a 7-year-old Caribbean-American boy on his bicycle.
As neighbors waited for emergency medical personnel, a Jewish student visiting from Australia was killed, resulting in bad feelings between the black and Jewish communities and three days of rioting. The trouble produced 190 injuries, 129 arrests and $1 million in property damage.
Making up the cast along with Lukasik and Paul are Debra Bercier, Marquis Heath, Lori Porter, Angelique Powell and Gwen Wright. Jones, who has directed and performed with Albany Civic Theater, Classic Theater Guild and Our Own Productions, says her company will strive to provide a nurturing venue for the work of women, people of color and the LGBT community.
“We’re hoping to enrich the lives of people who typically aren’t a part of mainstream theater,” said Jones, who won a Theatre Association of New York State Award in 2013 for directing the Classic Theater Guild production of “A Soldier’s Story.”
“I want to thank Angela O’Neal at the African-American Cultural Center of the Capital Region, where we will put on the show. She has been an unending source of encouragement to CTC’s mission.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]
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