By Javier Ronceros
“Greenwood 1964,” written and directed by Mohammed Ali Ojarigi as performed at The Hollywood Fringe, was a joy to watch and an important moment of reflection to witness. The two leads portraying Harry Belafonte, played by the wonderfully sincere Thomas Ramseur-King, and Sidney Poitier, played with an intense charismatic energy by Eli Goree, were perfectly matched by temperament and honesty.
It is a volatile and unwelcoming situation for, arguably, the most famous black men in America at that time. And eventhough this was a fictional story based on true events, it does not take away from the power of the message.
The actors’ interaction brought the audience into the stark and inelegant hotel room and kept us there. The exchanges and sharing of fears and hopes by both men at times raised to such a tense level that I could feel the audience shifting in their seats. None of this would have been possible without the heartfelt and deft writing and direction by Mohammed Ali Ojarigi. The set, light and sound design was an integral part of this important play and the addition of real footage of the struggles of the civil rights movement was a sobering reminder that, in some cases, we have not travelled that far from 1964. Bravo to a performance I won’t soon forget!