Feed the Dragon Burns at the Station Theater: Arts: Smile Polily


A red light shines outside the heavy wooden door of the Theater de la Gare. In a sparkling and unmissable return to the stage, Feed the dragon captures hearts and minds. Latrelle Bright shines brightly in this one-woman show, located in a library.

Sharon Washington’s solo piece, Feed the dragon, burns with spirit and wisdom. The Station Theater Celebration Company, on its first official return to the stage, warms audiences with charm, candor and creativity. Moved before the pandemic, director Jackie Lowenstein and her sole performer aspired to present this deeply personal story of a brilliant black designer. Latrelle Bright, portraying young Sharon, is energetic and electric, as if sparkles in this story of personal narrative, poetic language and sailing identity.

Feed the dragon book “the true story of the little girl who lived in the library”, with dexterous skill and monumental importance. The library, a very true Saint Agnes, fully saturated with the color and culture of 1970s New York City, is fertile ground for young, intelligent and imaginative Sharon. From the rooftop of the Washington family apartment to the starving and demanding furnace in the basement, the story radiates symbolism, giving us tall towers and dragons. Words, too, are full of meaning; a world where names have power and words become a spell.

The importance of language resonates everywhere Feed the dragon, from the choice of words to dialects and accents. The scenes are punctuated and framed by quotes, including many from black authors like WEB Debois, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Huges. Bright, like Sharon, constantly transforms into character after character, blazing with humor and humanity. Reciting his numbers early in Yiddish and Greek, or reflecting the distinctive twang of his Jewish neighbors and relatives in Charleston, Latrelle Bright is an expert chameleon. Frankly addressing the survival-based code switching demanded of Sharon Washington’s black family, the show also demonstrates Washington’s extraordinary storytelling excellence.

A gripping and heartbreaking coming of age story, Feed the dragon ignites a fairy tale in an incendiary self-portrait. Latrelle Bright is instantly captivating, guiding the audience into an infectious laugh or a tense, unmoved breath. Within the walls of the Black Box Theater, Bright’s mastery of volume dynamics is clear: his magnetic silence, his ringing proclamations. Anchored in the physical places attached to history, this show also explores the definition of our own stories. In an enlightening speech after the show, the audience declared the performance “New, Refreshing” and said that the production, at times, “Felt like a memory”. Future audiences should expect to see identity, community and belonging intertwine as Sharon, through Latrelle Bright, searches for magic and meaning.

The sound (Lindsay Jones) and lighting (Jesse Folks) provide an understated but appropriate basis for Bright’s performance. With such a solid end to its 2021 lineup, Station Theater fans can look forward to more inclusive and meaningful productions over the coming year.

Friday performances of Feed the dragon are nearly sold out, with tickets possibly available for tours at the door. Additionally, Saturday will feature a live streaming show.

Feed the dragon
The Festival Company at the Théâtre de la Gare
223 N Broadway, Urbana
December 3-5, F-Sat 7:30 p.m., Sun 2:30 p.m.
Get ticket information here.

Top photo from Station Theater Facebook page.

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