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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
January 18, 2002

Photo: Anthony Glassman

Over the river and through the woods

Over 20 people--and three dogs--set out on Cleveland Out and About�s Rocky River Reservation hike on January 13.

The five-mile hike was the group�s first this year, setting off from the Rocky River Nature Center on a bright, brisk afternoon.

The gay and lesbian outdoors group holds hikes twice a month, with cross-country skiing and snowshoeing when the weather permits. Groups vary in size from six or seven people to 30 or more. In warmer weather, biking, kayaking and white-water rafting trips are planned.

Out and About�s next event will be on January 27, from Peninsula to Boston Trail for a total of eight miles. Hikes start at 1 pm. The group can be reached at 216-556-4832 or www.akronhome.com/outdoors.

-Anthony Glassman


Suit could expand federal rights law to cover gays

by Eric Resnick

Mt. Gilead--An Ohio woman fired for being a lesbian has taken her former employer to federal court. Her case has the potential to expand federal workplace protection to lesbians and gays under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Darlene Norton, 51, of Mt. Gilead, worked as a security guard at Candlewood Lake, a private gated community in Morrow County from January 1996 to July 2000.

Norton says the problems began when she asked for bereavement leave when her partner of 13 years died December 26, 1998. Candlewood Lake offers bereavement leave for its employees.

By making the request, she came out to the company. Norton says that this resulted in other employees not talking to her, baseless reprimands, getting passed over for promotion twice, and eventual termination.

Norton now drives a school bus and lives in Candlewood Lake. In a separate matter, she claims that she has been targeted for selective enforcement of the community�s policy forbidding commercial vehicles when she parks the bus in her driveway.

"They have fined me three dollars a day," said Norton. "But I have documented 27 other commercial vehicles regularly parked in people�s driveways, and I am the only one being fined."

Norton�s complaint was summarily dismissed December 28 by Ohio Southern District federal court magistrate Terence P. Kemp on the grounds that federal law does not explicitly protect gays from workplace discrimination.

The case was assigned to Judge James Graham.

"I fully expected that to happen," said Norton�s attorney, James Banks of Columbus. "At that level, there is no specific statute covering people who are gay, but there is a chance with the appeals court because at that level there does not need to be a statute to be covered under equal protection."

Banks is preparing an appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which must be filed by January 26.

A panel of three judges will hear the case there.

Banks said that the evidence in this case is compelling, and includes Candlewood Lake board members calling Norton "dyke" and "gay bitch."

"If this was a race case with those kinds of slurs, it would be a slam dunk," said Banks.

"All we need to do in this case is get the court to agree that equal protection under the constitution applies to all," Banks added.

Candlewood Lake is represented by James Ferber, also of Columbus, who did not return calls for comment.

Ferber is basing Candlewood�s case on there being no statutory protection for gays and lesbians under the law.

Banks indicated that there is conflicting case law that applies to the equal protection aspect of Norton�s case "even within our own circuit," and the higher court needs to settle the issue. He said the case could go to the U.S. Supreme Court if lower appeals fail.

Banks chose to have the case tried in federal court because he said, "state courts are tied to politicians, and in federal court, where the judges are appointed for life, I thought she would get a better deal."

The case is expected to take a year to two years to be heard by the appeals court. Then, it could be sent back to the lower court to be tried.

Banks believes that the delay could help Norton�s case.

"With time, attitudes change in America," he said.

Norton knows it could be a long fight, but is committed to seeing it through.

"I just want to do what I can to help people realize that we are not protected," she said.

"I don�t know much about the legal stuff," said Norton. "I just know that I have been done an injustice."

The suit calls for Norton to be paid normal damages for lost work and wages, as compensation for humiliation, pain and suffering.

While Norton�s case is under federal law, a similar case seeks a ruling that Ohio law already covers anti-gay discrimination. A Trumbull County court dismissed Barry Tenney�s suit against General Electric last March because Ohio law does not specifically include gays and lesbians. He is appealing the dismissal.


 

Bias appears to
be motive for beating

Suspects talked of hating gays
in detention home

by Eric Resnick

Huntington, W.Va.--Police may be a step closer to declaring that a November 18 bashing that left 28-year-old artist Michael Fiffe in a permanent coma is a hate crime.

Two men are charged with severely beating Fiffe shortly after he left a gay bar at 3 am on November 18. He is now in a nursing home. He occasionally can respond to things around him, and doctors expect only slight improvement.

Suspects Eric Young, 18, and Jonathan Scott Hensley, 21, both of Huntington, have been charged with malicious wounding, a felony that carried a sentence of 2-10 years.

According to Huntington detective Sgt. Rocky Johnson, the two are out on bond. A 16-year-old who was with Young and Hensley when the crime was committed has not been charged, because he turned himself in and has been cooperative in building the case against the other two.

Prosecutors believe that if the juvenile is charged, he will exercise his Fifth Amendment right not to testify against the other two, because that could possibly harm his own defense.

The beating occurred as Fiffe was walking home from the Driftwood gay bar. Videotape from a bank security camera a block from the bar shows three males get out of an SUV and attack Fiffe in the bank�s parking lot. The assailants also robbed him of $20.

Local activists fear that the crime will be dismissed as a simple assault and robbery.

West Virginia, like Ohio, has no law enhancing the punishments for crimes committed with anti-gay bias. Police recognition of the hate nature of the beating will help them with their investigation and signal lawmakers that such laws are needed.

Fiffe�s employer and good friend Ken Fox fears that Young�s family connections will "get him off easy as they have in the past."

Hensley and Young have records of violent crime as juveniles, and have served time in the Davis juvenile detention facility in Blackwater Falls.

Fox and another Fiffe friend, Corey Mullins, pointed out that Young and Hensley served only two months of a six month sentence at Davis in 1999, which Johnson confirmed.

According to a source who was in Davis in 1999 with Hensley and Young, they were preoccupied with gays during their time there.

"All the two talked about was hating fags," he said.

Mullins and Fox believe that Young�s influential family was the reason for their early release. Young�s father owns a large insurance agency and is politically connected.

"They are one of the better families in town," Johnson said of the Young family.

Fox said that Young and Hensley were stars on the high school wrestling, basketball, and football team, and talk around the community is that the wrestling coach has gotten them out of trouble in the past, as well.

When the two were released on bond, the FBI suggested that local police move Fiffe to another location for his safety. According to Johnson, the police took the suggestion seriously and moved Fiffe to a "secure" location.

Human Rights Campaign field organizer Diana Mason will be in Huntington January 18 to meet with leaders of the Lesbian and Gay Coalition, law enforcement, concerned citizens, and friends of Fiffe.

"We�re going at the request of local activists, who fear that the case will be swept under the rug," said Mason.

HRC responded similarly to activists� concerns following the 2000 murder of openly gay Arthur "J.R." Warren in Fairmont, West Virginia, which was also believed to have been an anti-gay hate crime.

A second Huntington incident involving a gay man that may have been related to the Fiffe attack occurred November 30 in the home of Anthony Hensley, which is four blocks from the site where Fiffe was beaten.

Hensley, no relation to suspect Jonathan Scott Hensley, is an openly gay artist originally from Columbus. He and Fiffe are friends.

Hensley reportedly returned home to find his house broken into, and graffiti painted on the walls. The graffiti included a swastika, racist and anti-gay epithets, and the words, "we�ll get you too."

However, according to Johnson, police had to stop the investigation of Hensley�s case because when confronted with inconsistencies in his story, Hensley stopped cooperating, and told police he needed to talk to an attorney.

Johnson declined to give additional details, but said Hensley was read his rights. That investigation has been turned over to the FBI. The FBI does not comment on ongoing investigations.

Because Fiffe survived the attack, Young and Hensley have been charged with malicious wounding. A trial is expected to begin within six months.


 

Westside Playhouse opens first show on East Side

Cleveland�The old adage says that the show must go on, and the Westside Playhouse is intent on holding to that. The new gay theater has announced an alternate venue for their première production The Masseur, at Cuyahoga Community College�s eastern campus.

The theater was set to open in early January until a newspaper story about it brought city inspectors� attention. They required alterations to its space at 6602 Detroit Ave., a former convenience store.

Co-owner Chris Johnson said that he and business partner Charles Lago are now working with the city to get the repairs done, and expect the theater to be open as early as May.

In the meantime, The Masseur will play from January 24 through February 14 at Tri-C East. The theater is in Building E on the campus, at 4250 Richmond Rd. in Highland Hills.

--Anthony Glassman


 

Five states look at civil union and civil rights measures

by Anthony Glassman
with wire reports

The new year is bringing with it several pro-gay proposed state laws, with measures in five states legislatures: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia and New York.

In California and Connecticut, efforts are under way to pass civil union measures similar to that in Vermont. The other three states are considering gay-inclusive civil rights laws.

In New York, Gov. George Pataki stressed the need for a statewide pro-gay anti-discrimination law in his state of the state address on January 10.

New York has had legislation introduced every year for the last 30 years to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Last year, it passed the House, but was stopped in the Republican-held Senate. Pataki is a Republican, and this was the first time in his two terms that he mentioned the anti-discrimination legislation in his annual address.

In Delaware, a gay-inclusive anti-discrimination bill passed the House of Representatives last year by one vote, only to be bottled up in the Senate Small Business Committee.

Sen. Robert Venables, the committee�s chair, agreed to hold public hearings on the bill, on January 28.

In Georgia, Rep. Carl Von Epps has introduced similar legislation that would add sexual orientation to state anti-discrimination laws. Von Epps wields a great deal of power in the legislature as the chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.

However, the legislature�s record is not encouraging. A hate crime law passed in 2000 was watered down to eliminate any mention of sexual orientation. The law is considered unenforceable because it names no groups.

Connecticut lawmakers are trying to follow Vermont�s lead with the introduction of civil union legislation.

"We�re well beyond the point of asking whether we want to have same-sex couples in the state," said Rep. Michael Lawlor, co-chair of the legislature�s Judiciary Committee. "They�re here. Now the time has come for the legislature to start establishing rules."

He expects legislators to consider a civil union bill this year as well as a bill granting full marriage to gay couples.

It is also expected that opponents of such legislation will introduce bills of their own, defining marriage as being the union of one man and one woman.

California last year strengthened its domestic partner registry so that it granted benefits to the people who registered their relationships. Some legislators are eager to move further on the issue, though.

Assemblyman Paul Koretz proposed a measure last year to introduce civil unions in the state. The bill must be voted on by January 31 or die. It is expected to be heard by the Assembly before then.

Opponents of the measure charge that it would circumvent Proposition 22, a measure passed by voters in 2000 which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. They have threatened to sue if a civil union law passes.


 

Bashing brothers to represent themselves

Middleburg, Pa.�Two brothers trying to rescind their guilty pleas in the near-fatal beating of their neighbor will be allowed to represent themselves in the case, prosecutors said January 10.

The brothers, Troy Clinger, 19, and Todd Clinger, 21, told a Snyder County judge that their attorneys had misrepresented them and coerced them into a guilty plea, District Attorney Mike Sholley said.

The judge advised them of their rights and allowed them to represent themselves, but did not rule on whether the pair can withdraw their guilty pleas, Sholley said.

"The defendants have eighth-grade educations, expressed a lack of knowledge of the system, and in spite of all that, wanted to represent themselves," Sholley said.

On Dec. 18, the second day of their trial, Todd Clinger pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit third-degree murder, and Troy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter.

No hearing on whether the pair can withdraw their pleas has been scheduled.

Todd Clinger could get up to 40 years in prison and Troy Clinger up to 20 years. Both are being held in the Snyder County Jail.

The brothers were charged in the March 6, 2001 beating of Michael Auker, 41, at Troy Clinger�s trailer outside Middleburg, about 40 miles north of Harrisburg. Todd Clinger claimed that Auker grabbed his crotch.

--Associated Press


 

 

News Briefs

Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.

�Black men should not be gay,� shooting victim was told

New York City�A black gay Harlem man was released from the hospital on January 13 after being shot in the chest following an argument with men shouting anti-gay epithets at him and his boyfriend.

Eric Miller was walking through Harlem to a friend�s apartment with his partner, Jason Taylor, on January 11 when they were yelled at by two men who told them that black men should not be gay.

Miller and Taylor walked away, but had to pass back by the men after discovering their friend was not in his apartment.

A scuffle ensued during their second encounter with the two men, and one of the assailants pulled out a handgun and shot Miller once in the chest.

The attack is being investigated by the Hate Crime Task Force of the New York police department.

 

Minister gets ovation for coming out

Denver�Rev. Scott Landis spoke to his congregation from the heart on January 6 and received a standing ovation for it.

Landis, who struggled for years to reconcile his faith with his sexual orientation, came out to his flock at the First Plymouth Congregational Church, part of the United Church of Christ, in a 25-minute speech following services.

Some of the members of the church are concerned about Landis� wife and children, but none have spoken against his ministry. Other church members expressed relief after Landis� coming out, worried that, when he asked members to stay after services for a personal matter, he was ill or was going to resign.

Landis is the second openly gay minister at the church. Rev. O. Elaine Hinnant, hired in 1999, came out to the church board as a lesbian before getting the post.

The United Church of Christ, dating back to the 1600s as Congregational, allows openly gay men and women to be ordained and is one of the most progressive Protestant sects on gay issues.

 

Bestiality included in dog-maul trial

San Francisco�The couple being tried in the dog-mauling death of a lesbian college lacrosse coach will not have separate trials, a San Francisco judge ruled January 14. Evidence of the dog owners� bestiality will also be allowed.

Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel are charged with involuntary manslaughter in last year�s death of their neighbor Diane Whipple. Knoller, who was with the dogs during the attack, also faces a second-degree murder charge.

Their attorneys requested separate trials in motions filed January 3. Any change could have delayed jury selection set for Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, where the trial has been moved because of extensive publicity.

In her court filing, Knoller claimed her case could be hurt by her husband�s derogatory comments about Whipple, including his observation that she was a "timorous mousy blonde."

Bruce Hotchkiss, Noel�s lawyer, argued that his client was out of town during the attack but that a jury could convict him based on guilt by association. Hotchkiss also noted that Knoller neglected to muzzle the dogs the day of the attack.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge James Warren rejected the motion to separate the trials.

Warren also shot down a defense motion to suppress evidence that Noel and Knoller had sex with one or both of the dogs, ruling that the prosecution must present the evidence clearly and show that the bestiality affected the dogs� behavior for the evidence to be allowed in court.

 

Kidnapping case ends

Salt Lake City�Members of a family accused of beating and kidnapping a relative because she is lesbian have entered a diversion agreement allowing charges to be dismissed in two years.

Muna Hawatmeh testified at a 2000 preliminary hearing that on Oct. 13, 1999, she was beaten, slapped and kicked for four hours by her mother, father and two brothers, who she said finally decided they must kill her.

They spared her life, she said, only after she begged to be sent back to Jordan instead.

The four family members were charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault.

The father has since died. Under the diversion agreement signed last month by Third District Judge Judith Atherton, the charges against the other three will be dismissed in two years if they refrain from crime and contact with the victim.

Deputy Salt Lake District Attorney Kent Morgan said January 10 that the deal was struck due to lack of cooperation by the alleged victim and her lover.

Prosecutor Paul Parker said Muna recently became ambivalent about the prosecution and had "struggled" with the prospect of her family going to prison.

Attorney Earl Xaiz, who represents Muna�s brother Iehab, believes resolution of the case was prompted, in part, by the December death of Muna�s father from cancer.

 

Second gay Republican seeks office

Boston�Registrar of Motor Vehicles Dan Grabauskas announced he is leaving his job to run for state treasurer, becoming the second gay Republican running for office in Massachusetts this year.

Grabauskas has won praise at the Registry for cutting waiting times and improving customer service.

The current state treasurer, Democrat Shannon O�Brien, is running for governor.

Grabauskas became registrar in 1998 after serving as director of the state office of consumer affairs.

Another gay Republican, Patrick Guerriero, was chosen two weeks ago by acting Gov. Jane Swift to be her lieutenant governor running mate.

 

Finance minister marries

Oslo, Norway�Finance Minister Per-Kristian Foss married his boyfriend January 4, becoming the first member of a Norwegian government to enter a binding same-sex partnership.

Under a 1993 domestic partner law, gays and lesbians can enter legal partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage, except adoption and church weddings. While the law is separate from the heterosexual marriage laws, Norwegians commonly refer to it as marriage.

Foss, a Conservative, married long-term partner Jan Erik Knarbakk in a ceremony at the Norwegian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Norwegian Finance Ministry confirmed the wedding but said Foss was not granting interviews because it is a personal matter.

Knarbakk is a top manager in the Schibsted publishing concern and the two have been described in the news media as being among Norway�s most powerful couples.

Norwegians are broadly tolerant of homosexuality and traditionally respect the private lives of public figures, so the wedding was simply noted briefly, without comment, by the news media.

About 100 couples a year enter gay partnerships in the capital city of Oslo.

 

Woolard becomes council president

Atlanta�Cathy Woolard, who made history four years ago by becoming Georgia�s first openly lesbian or gay elected official, was sworn in as city council president on January 7.

Woolard was elected to council in 1997. Since then, she has made a name for herself as one of the leaders of the opposition to outgoing mayor Bill Campbell, who vetoed a domestic partner ordinance passed by council shortly before leaving office.

Woolard ascended to council presidency with the departure of Robb Pitts, who waged a failed campaign to become mayor himself.

Woolard came out and became an activist following the 1986 Supreme Court ruling upholding Georgia�s sodomy law.

She started working for the Human Rights Campaign, but left Washington D.C. in 1996 to return home with her partner.

 

Marine stop-loss excludes gays

Washington, D.C.�The United States Marine Corps issued a stop-loss order on January 2, suspending administrative discharges with the notable exception of those under the military�s "don�t ask, don�t tell" policy.

The order brings the Marines in line with the Army, Air Force and Navy.

President Bush issued an executive stop-loss order in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld then delegated the authority to the secretaries of the individual military branches to implement as they saw fit.

The Air Force issued their order in late September, halting administrative discharges except for "homosexual conduct." The Navy followed suit on October 10, and the Army issued its order on December 2.

The purpose of the order is to ensure a fully staffed military in times of national crisis. Stop-loss orders were issued in both the Gulf War and during peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo.

Under the stop-loss order, medical and condolence discharges can be given at the discretion of commanding officers.

 

St. Pete passes rights ordinance

St. Petersburg, Fla.�The city council voted 6-2 on January 3 to add sexual orientation to the protected classes in the city�s anti-discrimination ordinances.

Mayor Rick Baker said that he might veto the ordinance, but the council has more than the 75% majority necessary to override a mayoral veto.

The vote came after three hours of hearings, during which almost 50 people spoke in favor of adding gender identity as well, to protect cross-dressers, transgendered people, and others whose physical sex and perceived gender might not match.

The ordinance passed without gender identity. It bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing and employment.

 

Web sites add cities

Columbus�Out in America, the internet�s largest city-specific network of LGBT web sites, announced on December 30 the addition of 40 more areas to their collective.

Their web sites now cover 109 cities in North America.

Among the areas added were Provincetown, Mass.; Baton Rouge, La.; Long Island; Los Angeles; Sarasota, Fla.; and Omaha, Neb. Areas outside the U.S. include Mexico City; Calgary, Alberta; Vancouver, B.C.; Montreal, and the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario.

Out in America projects, at the current rate of 25% growth in users per month, 200,000 registered active users by February, as well as 2 million visitors per month to their web sites.

The sites provide news, entertainment and resources specific to the cities on which they focus, as well as carrying national news. Out in America partners with internet content providers as well as local LGBT newspapers in a number of the cities they cover.

 

Rock star�s partner gets custody

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil�The lesbian partner of rock star Cassia Eller, who died of an apparent drug overdose in December, was granted temporary custody of Eller�s child on January 9.

The court also granted Eugenia Vieira, who was with Eller for 14 years, the inheritance of Eller�s estate and the rights to her songs.

The court granted a six-month temporary custody order to Vieira. Eller�s family did not protest the request.

The child�s father, musician Tavinho Fialho, died in a car crash before the child was born eight years ago.

The decision is viewed by the gay community in Brazil as a major victory, and is being touted as impetus for the legislature to pass a same-sex unions law.

 

Judge in �don�t ask� case dies

New York City�Eugene H. Nickerson, a federal judge who sought unsuccessfully to strike down the military�s "don�t ask, don�t tell" policy, died January 1 from complications following stomach surgery. He was 83.

President Carter appointed Nickerson to the federal bench in 1977 in the city�s Brooklyn borough, where he presided over several organized crime trials.

In 1995, Nickerson declared "don�t ask, don�t tell" unconstitutional, calling it "nothing short of Orwellian" and a violation of free-speech rights. He said in a later decision that the policy infringed on the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment by subjecting gay and lesbian troops to a discriminatory set of regulations.

But an appeals court, and ultimately the Supreme Court, rejected Nickerson�s decision, concluding that the policy was constitutional.


Evenings Out

The voices of the Harlem Renaissance

Two gay greats take center stage in Cleveland

by Anthony Glassman

Rumors of the Harlem Renaissance�s demise are apparently, to quote Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated.

Northeast Ohio plays host to the work of two seminal forces from the 1920s movement, between now and the end of February. Both are being produced at the Cleveland Play House. Perhaps most interesting about the plays in question, though, are the fact that the works are by the two biggest gay names from that period.

The first piece being produced is The Amen Corner, being described by the theater as a gospel-infused drama written in 1955 by James Baldwin (1924-1987).

The description is a bit deceiving, though. Oh, it�s got some incredible singers belting gospel music out like there�s no tomorrow, but "gospel-infused" tends to call to mind revivalist plays like Arms Too Short to Box with God that act as extensions of the churches.

This play could probably be farther from that model of "gospel-infused," but it would take a lot of work.

The piece centers around Sister Margaret, the preacher at a New York church who ran out on her alcoholic jazz musician husband years ago, taking their son with her to be raised in a more God-fearing environment.

David, her son, plays the piano in their church. His keyboard skills are much-loved by the flock, but he has a desire to see more of the world, experience more music than can be found in the hymns.

David�s desires reach a fever pitch when Luke, his father, comes back into their lives. Dying of tuberculosis, Luke swings into New York, having landed a gig playing at a jazz club in Gotham.

The battle of wills between Sister Margaret and Luke for David�s soul, however, is deceptive. Sister Margaret wants to keep her son "safe," away from the world and temptation, but can anyone be truly virtuous when they are never given the opportunity to fall from grace? Can there be redemption without temptation?

Luke wants his boy to be free to decide for himself, to examine the limitless possibilities of both the world and oneself.

Ultimately David must make a decision that might destroy one of his parents.

The play is phenomenal, having played in its previews and opening weekend to packed houses. The set is incredible, a two-story structure with Sister Margaret�s home on the first, earthly floor and the church on the loftier second floor. The set, however, is secondary to the faultless voices and inspired performances of the cast.

Center stage, however, must go to Baldwin�s writing. The play mirrors the writer�s life to a certain extent. He grew up in the church, even becoming a preacher at the age of 18. He left, however, and fled to Paris, where he spent much of his life in self-imposed exile.

After the success of his first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Baldwin made every effort possible to avoid continuously rewriting his first success in ever-diminishing versions. As a writing exercise, he set out to pen a theatrical piece, and this is the result.

Overlapping the run of The Amen Corner will be . . . Love, Langston, a selection of 52 poems and essays by the other lavender luminary of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes (1902-1967).

Hughes, who graduated from Central High School in Cleveland, wrote more than 860 poems, forty plays and sketches, two autobiographical volumes, a novel, shorts stories, essays, songs, children�s books and opera libretti. That is quite a body of work, and adapter Loni Berry had his work cut out for him.

Berry started culling Hughes� work while in graduate school, having studied under George Houston Bass, the executor of Hughes� literary estate. Bass had become Hughes� secretary while studying math at Columbia University, but had his life changed by his association with the great writer. Bass, in turn, took others under his wing, and the former science major Berry was one of them.

Berry is a composer, playwright and director who holds degrees from Yale and Brown Universities. He directed the first collegiate production of George C. Wolfe�s The Colored Museum, one of the most influential African American plays to also deal with issues of sexual identity and sexual orientation.

Berry took the deck of Hughes� wild cards and added in jazz and blues in the original score for the piece. He will also be directing the production here, aided by choreographer André De Shields.

Six actors play multiple roles in the piece, breathing life into characters from Hughes� work and giving living voices to stories generally left to lie in black and white on paper.

Hughes was called the "Poet Laureate of Harlem," and his wide-ranging view of the world has given his work immortality. This production, like The Amen Corner, should bring a diverse array of people to the Cleveland Play House.

The Great Lakes Theater Festival and the Cleveland Play House a presenting The Amen Corner through February 10. . . . Love, Langston will play from January 24 to February 10. Both productions are at the Cleveland Play House, 8500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland. For tickets, call 216-795-7000 ext. 4. For more information, see www.clevelandplayhouse.com.

 

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