Thursday, February 25, 2010

Drama in transition

By Meredith Deliso

Most drama in basketball happens on the court. For the ladies of the Bed-Stuy Bulls, it’s in the locker room.

Shoot 2 Win” follows a day in the life of seven friends who play on a competitive league as they try to reach for the gold in a city-wide tournament. But between cheating husbands and drug abuse, basketball’s the last thing on their minds.

Donna Marie Augustin originally saw the production in her native London, and wanted to bring it to Brooklyn, where she’s lived in Bedford-Stuyvesant for the past three years.

“I literally sat there with my mouth open,” says Augustin of the original show. “I thought it was a really beautiful piece. You don’t get to see all-female, African American women. I always knew I was going to produce it.”

In putting on the show for an American audience, the script, written by Jo Martin, Josephine Melville and Tracey Daley, needed some “translation.” Netball, which the original focused on, became basketball. Obscure British/Caribbean slang (“Stop talking stupidness”) was reworked, with help from Brooklyn writer and director Nelson George (whom Augustin worked with on the forthcoming film “Left Unsaid”). But the story remained the same.

As soon as the lights go on, the women enter the locker room one by one, each carrying their own demons – Shenequa (played by Augustin) and her drug dealing on the side; Jackie and her alcoholism; Carrie and her bad luck with men; Mandy and her drug abuse; Zoe and her racial identity crisis; Bev and her faith; and Sandra, who has the biggest weight to carry of them all.

Despite the severity of their problems, the play does have its light-hearted moments as well, including an impromptu dance sequence and clever dialogue. But, thanks to heated words between the friends and serious soliloquies from each actress, the play strives to uncover those truths that are right below the surface, and on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Off the court, they’re still on the defense.

Besides the script, another draw for Augustin was the opportunity to have an all-female, nearly all-black ensemble piece.

“Most black female parts are social workers, nurses, prostitutes, a mother who’s either an ex-druggy or suffering,” says Augustin. “This is specifically an all female cast with all great, well-written characters who are black women who are interesting. For me it was about that. My goal is to get that to be the vernacular of the theater.”

After a few days at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Manhattan, the production comes to Brooklyn’s Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts March 3-7. Tickets are $22, $15 for students, seniors and groups of 10 or more. The theater is located at 1 University Plaza. For more information, call 718-488-1624.


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