Ojai out in force for MLK
by Chris Wilson
Troy Barner and the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation staged a day
full of what at least one witness called "evocative entertainment
and thought- provoking dialogue" for the young and old in
The event was in celebration and remembrance of the life of Martin
Luther King Jr. and his message of dreams, equality, perseverance
Throughout the day in Libbey Park, hundreds of people gathered
in the fountain area for words, music and acting.
Kevin Blake, a Glendale-based actor, performed a one-man show
called "Horizon Line." During the performance a rapt
audience watched as Blake portrayed several different people
with his voice and a pile of props. Afterward people came up
to him with "Thank yous" and That was powerful."
In the play, Blake, with shaved head, portrayed a racist young
man, a police officer, and a man who removes tatoos with a laser.
Blake has been performing "Horizon Line" all over the
country for the past several months. The National Conference
for Community and Justice, which sponsors the performances, sends
Blake into high schools, juvenile detention centers and the work
place to hear the powerful message.
Ojai Mayor Steve Olsen led the day with a proclamation for the
MLK celebration. Later, Olsen, who helped found the OVYF, praised
the efforts of the town and the organization.
Throughout the sunny afternoon, an audience of a few hundred
people milled around the tables and listened to a collection
of Ojai's talented musicians.
They heard Rosie Shapiro and Sophie White sing, "Whee Machine"
rock, Alan Thornhill's country-flavored rock, Seabury Gould,
Donna Gross and family and the Mira Monte children's chorus.
Perla Batalla lended her voice to the cause and brought together
a world-class collection of musicians, including saxophone by
Paul Ostermayer, Katherine Halsey and Julie Christensen on backup
vocals, Michael Faue on the cajon, Tyler Blanton, Claud Mann
and Eva Batalla-Mann on percussion and David Bateau on guitar.
Christensen and J.B. White, who made their duet debut together
at Theater 150's "Human Chain," performed a couple
of harmonious tunes. They were followed by the funk and fun music
of Happy Valley School's "Coyote" and the St. Paul
AME Church Choir from Santa Barbara, which is led by the MLK
celebration's coordinator Barner.
"There is such great talent in Ojai," said OVYF board
member and music producer Denzyl Feigelson. "I think we
should do this every weekend right here."
Musicians on the stage stood under a brightly colored banner
of painted faces that was created by the Nordhoff High School's
art class students, and the fountain was surrounded by tables
for different groups and businesses to support the event.
Ojai Fresh sold fresh-squeezed juice, Ojai Pizza sold slices,
and the American Red Cross of Ventura County called for additional
volunteers. The Ojai Foundation, Building Bridges Community Coalition
and Seasons For Nonviolence were also represented. As
the day progressed, the OVYF's Barner kept a close eye on the
proceedings and a big smile on his face. The day was a success
he said, but was a little harder to pin down specifically.
"It's all good," Barner said.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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