Epoch Arts shares the ‘Voices of Africa’

By Jason Harris - Staff Writer
East Hampton - posted Fri., Nov. 30, 2012
Cheyenne Welsh and Sam Bolton hold the window as Mitchell Brown sits underneath it during a scene of 'Voices of Africa.' Photos by Jason Harris..
Cheyenne Welsh and Sam Bolton hold the window as Mitchell Brown sits underneath it during a scene of 'Voices of Africa.' Photos by Jason Harris..

The students of Epoch Arts will be bringing the “Voices of Africa” to East Hampton this weekend, as they ask audiences to journey with them to Uganda and Ethiopia to experience the stories and life of its peoples, according to the artistic director of Epoch Arts, Elizabeth Namen, who is co-director of the play.

This one-act play was written by the students after they were presented with the idea by Rachael Martin, co-director of the play, who has been to Ethiopia twice. The students were also inspired by Allison Schroth, who founded the nonprofit The Uganda Project. She told the students about the culture and what it’s like there and invited Infinite Roots, an African troupe that was funded by the East Hampton Youth and Family Services, to come to Epoch to perform, Namen said.

The play does have some nonfiction characters in it, since the students based them on people they met or heard about, Namen said. The students wrote the monologues and scenes with the guidance of Namen.

Namen said that one student, Annelise Bouchard, will be performing the coffee ceremony and everyone in the audience will receive a small espresso type cup of coffee at the end of the performance. Bouchard decided to do the coffee ceremony because it sounded really interesting, as the women perform it multiple times a day, she said.

Martin, who has seen the coffee ceremony performed, said it’s a long process because the coffee beans are roasted, then boiled a couple of times before the first cup is poured. The traditional coffee ceremony is three cups of coffee, so the process is repeated three times, she said.

“It’s a really long process that takes a long time,” Marin said. “It was just so cool that it was so important to them; something that took so much time because that’s the opposite of anything here.”

The play will be performed at 7 p.m. on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Epoch Arts, which is located at 27 Skinner St., in East Hampton. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. For more information, call 860-365-0337 or go to the organization’s website, www.epocharts.org.

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