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Posted inArts & Entertainment

Oakland Theater Project’s ‘Begin the Beguine’ reveals the inner lives of four Black women

Don’t let anyone tell you differently — there’s magic to be had in a parking lot. For the last three weekends, tucked between murals of a skinless tyrannosaurus rex and a collage of Bay Area iconography, actors from the Oakland Theater Project have gathered in the lot behind FLAX Building on Martin Luther King, Jr., Way to make history inhabiting worlds shaped and written by Kathleen Collins, a multidisciplinary artist who wrote films, plays, diaries and stories that explored class, racial tension, gender dynamics and, perhaps most importantly, Black women as whole, imperfect beings of yearning. The show, “Begin the Beguine” comprises four non-linear one-acts performed back to back without intermission, as co-director and lead actor Dawn L. Troupe takes the audience through the lives and ruminations of Black women in spaces and time of what could be Manhattan, or it could be your neighborhood, the park by your house, the apartment building down the street. Troupe stars in each work, with Michael Socrates Moran as co-director and supporting characters played by Margherita Ventura, Leon Jones and Benoit Monin, whose presences frame how the internal languishing of Collins’ leads extends beyond their bodies.