The Afrosolo Theatre Company's seventh annual Afrosolo Arts Festival will be ending Aug. 27, but one of the event's biggest shows is saved for the finale, Aug. 26.
Mavis Staples of the Staples Sisters returns to her gospel roots with A Tribute to Mahalia Jackson Aug. 26 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theatre. The voice behind the Staples Sisters' "Respect Yourself," "If You're Ready" and "I'll Take You There" (which earned her a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), she has since continued her rhythm and blues career, working with Kenny Loggins, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. As a part of the festival, Staples will receive the AfroSolo Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award.
Aug. 23 and 24, five solo performers delivered their plays in two one night programs. First will be Gaidi Nkruma's story of violence in three generations of a black family, More Than I Can Handle, Thomas R. Simpson's exploration of the Civil Right movement through the eyes of a black militant, There Is No Hatred Here and Alison Wright's biography of Gladys Bently, a lesbian cross-dresser and blues icon who lost everything during the McCarthy witch hunts. The second night features Awele with The Black Women Did It, the story of the lesser-known women who helped carry off the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Cherly Simone's comic look at single motherhood at the turn of the century, Single With Kids. Both nights will be held at Theater Artaud.
Program B including Awele and Simone repeats on Sunday, Aug. 27.
The first actual performance in the festival, which began with an AIDS forum Aug. 5, was an evening with young performers age 20 and under held Aug. 19 at Z Space Studio. Several nights of up-and-coming adult performers have been featured Aug. 23-25 and will continue Aug. 27 at Theater Artaud. Tickets to events range from $25-$5. A Festival package is available for $50. For information and reservations, call (415) 771-AFRO. Arfrosolo is on the web at http://www.afrosolo.org.
-- By Christine Ehren