THE SIDEWALK a Must See StagePlay at the Paul Robeson Theatre!

Edreys Wajed is an artistic genius and visionary Paulette D. Harris is Buffalo’s gift to the theatre arts. Together they have produced “The Sidewalk Stage Play,” one of the most important and timely productions to grace the stage of the Paul Robeson Theatre.

The remaining performance dates are March -24, 29-31 and April 5- 7. Tickets can be obtained at Paul Robeson Theatre box office,350 Mason Ave or can be ordered online at www.aaccbuffalo.org

Review By Ashli Doeman

The Sidewalk Stage Play, written by Edreys Wajed and Paulette D. Harris, is a masterfull  adaptation of a poem by artist Wajed titled “The Side Walk.”  The result of this powerful collaboration between the two (Harris also directs) delivers one of Buffalo’s most phenomenal  rap-plays of  the year thus far adding another notch of Black excellence on the belt of the Paul Robeson Theatre.

On opening night the cast and crew delivered a powerful performance to sold out seats at the Paul Robeson theatre for its World-Premier. The show not only raised the bar of excellence and credibility of Wajed and Harris’s talent, but also raised audience members out of their seats to a roaring standing ovation followed by a warm reception celebration that felt like good old fashioned familial fellowship.

The play is a deeply emotional piece that is sure to hold the audience’s attention from beginning to end and spark constructive conversation. With references of Eric Garner and Tamir Rice type tragedies, to the absurd police calling trend fueled by Jennifer Schulte aka BBQ Becky, the play sheds a light on the challenges of inner city life and the untimely, offensive, unfortunate tragedies of the Black American experience.

Both Harris and Wajed have come together to use theater as a vehicle to express their message. From Harris’ standpoint the sidewalk symbolize inequality.  She notes, “there is a white line that divide the street and the sidewalk”; making the connection to the civil rights movement when African Americans would always step aside in order to make room for others. “The sidewalk has cheated us in some way,” said Harris.

Appealing to all generations and filled with both newcomers and seasoned actors, the production weaves a story led by Wajed’s poetic rap-style narrative through interludes that are snippets from the adapted poem, as if “the sidewalk” could actually speak, giving voice to its all seeing roll in these mean streets. The sidewalk (Wajed) tells   many tales to showcase the good bad and ugly truths of the streets.“… I watched the police drop their knee on his neck, had him stretched, they threw the cuffs on the dude and I ain’t see that cat since.”

Contrary to actual reality, America has painted African Americans negatively through the usage of the media.  Wajed said he first started this piece as a way to showcase the trials and tribulations that minority people experience. “The street is impartial to people and doesn’t care who it eats or swallow up alive.” 

Harris and Wajed’s vision allow the actors to solidly and believably take the words of the poem and bring them to life and this stand out performance cast delivers raw emotional truth from start to finish from the  emotional  portrayal of a  “driving while Black” (Mike Hicks)  man struggling to maintain his dignity in front  of his son (Isaac Fareed)  at the hands of a racist cop convincingly portrayed by Daniel Greer;  to Linda Barr’s exceptional  performance  in dual roles as both a concerned mother and the neighborhood crack head.

The level of creativity on this production is at an all-time high. The energy, support and skill of the cast interaction is a true pleasure to watch despite how close to home the scenarios have played out in our own communities, even for some of the cast members.  Anthony Clark (who plays Rock in the production) mentioned that the Sidewalk “is a representation of my life, it is real, I grew up watching this.” Another actor, Mike Hicks (Richard) mentioned that an implied theme within this piece is “the haves and the have nots.” It is a fight for survival on the sidewalk, some make it out while for others is an uncherished life.

The entire cast and crew should be commended: Andy Noel, Anthony Clark, Arterist Molson, Ayana Naomi, Chalma Warmley, Daniel Greer, Edreys Wajed, Issac Fareed, Janisha Whitlock, Janine D. Glover, Linda Barr, Madeline E. Allard, Mike Hicks and Zack McCarty, Shayne Nevilles, Meaco Faulks and Eman Wajed Malik Rainey, Elijah Purdue, Emeka Wajed, Zeuriah Shadwick , Aitina Fareed-Cooke.

Ashli Doeman is in her Graduating Year at Buffalo State College and Intern in the Arts

The Sidewalk Stage Play proves  just how significant a role their productions play in bringing important timely, relevant issues to the stage right in the heart of the community.

The remaining performance dates are March -24, 29-31 and April 5- 7. Tickets can be obtained at Paul Robeson Theatre box office,350 Mason Ave or can be ordered online at www.aaccbuffalo.org