• Grace Illuminates 'Midnight Weary'

    (Los Angeles Times - June 17, 2005) "Sunshine for a Midnight Weary," presented by EMBODI
    Entertainment at the Inglewood Playhouse, is a fine opportunity to see a dedicated acting ensemble ply
    its craft. Director Angela Matemotja and her fellow performers infuse November Dawn's fiercely poetical
    drama with affecting grace and candor.

    Largely made up of loosely linked monologues, the play looks at the travails women of color confront in
    their daily lives. Their yearning for light and meaning is a blatant connecting theme (a bit ironic, considering
    that the gloomy lighting keeps the actresses in near-darkness for much of the time).
    The subject matter is freewheeling, to say the least. Among the characters, we meet a lesbian confronting
    the raw hatred of the "hetero world," a junkie trapped in the downward spiral of her addiction, and several
    abused women whose anger has reached critical mass.

    There's rage aplenty to be found in this desultory mix, but there's also humor, pathos and robust sensuality.
    Unfortunately, Dawn's writing is occasionally overwrought and hackneyed. However, at its best, it takes
    on the raw urgency of a Beat era poet, with the same sweeping, stream-of-consciousness tone.
    Besides Matemotja, the consistently high-quality cast includes Tasia Sherel, Brandy Maddox, Tammi
    Rashonda, Renee McSwain, Erica Pitts, Shannon Shepherd, Brianna Brown, and Baadja. The play's
    emphasis on female bonding is appropriate. Indeed, these performers are so closely bonded in style and
    commitment, they often seem to function as one organism.

  • Theater Reviews: “Sunshine for a Midnight Weary”

    by Neal Weaver
    (LA Weekly - June 9, 2005) Sunshine dominates the title, but it’s the darkness that prevails till almost the
    end of November Dawn’s choreoplay, which eloquently celebrates the strength of black women and
    anatomizes their miseries and travails. Written in verse and rhythmic prose, it takes a sharp look at
    poverty, dead-end jobs, drugs, male violence, and homophobia, judgmental church ladies, black men
    obsessed with white women, and AIDS. The Chopin Funeral March provides a grim prelude, followed by the
    nine women chanting in the darkness, "Give me some light so I can see!"

    Light and darkness provide the central metaphors, in subtle as well as obvious ways: Though light
    illuminates, it also reveals unwelcome truths. One sometimes sympathizes with the character who says,
    "I get tired of all the sob stories," but at its best, the play generates real power — particularly in the tale
    of a mother (director-choreographer Angela Matemotja) who discovers her man has seduced her retarded
    daughter while she was out working to support them. Matemotja leads her cast (including Tasia Sherel,
    Tammi Rashonda, Brandy Maddox, Renee McSwain, Erica Pitts, Shannon Shepherd, Baadja and the
    one Caucasian, Brianna Brown) in a deeply committed, highly charged performance.