While our local artists are still on summer break, there’s an interesting documentary coming to the Avery Research Center at 7 p.m. Friday.
Many of us will remember Alex Haley’s acclaimed made-for-TV movie, “Roots,” that followed the story of a slave named Kunta Kinteh after being abducted and brought to America in chains.
Haley was his descendant and the famous book and movie sparked a national interest for black families in tracing their roots back to their home country, and finding out more about tribal traditions and culture.
Now a documentary about the famous captive has been made. “Kunta Kinteh Island: “Coming Home Without Shackles” which chronicles his life and journey.
During a forced exodus, Kunta Kinteh was captured and transported to James Island in Gambia, where he was held captive for 15 days before being shipped as cargo to the Americas.
Recently the president of the Republic of The Gambia, reclaimed and renamed the old British Fortress as Kunta Kinteh Island to honor his legacy.
Filmmaker Elvin Ross captured the spirit and essence of the Gambian people during the Roots Festival in February 2011. The ruins of the fortress, which were restored through grants from both the Netherlands and the United States, serve as a backdrop to this film.
Actor Ben Vereen gives a dramatic rendering of a grandfather re-telling his family’s history to his young grandson so that Kinteh will be remembered. The filmmakers also did interviews with Kinteh family members that still reside in Juffureh.
Other celebrities, including Jermaine Jackson, and Chaz Guest gave personal testimonies in the documentary about knowing Alex Haley and their visits to James Island.
The film will be shown at the Avery Research Center, 125 Bull St. and seating is limited. Anyone interested should call 953-7609 to reserve seating.
There also will be a special performance for Charleston area middle school students. If you have a student from your church, or community that you would like to include for the special matinee, contact Yvette Miller via email firstname.lastname@example.org or at 571-3433 to have them added to the list.
Dr. Seuss by kids
Kid’s fare is always welcome during the summer and the Musical Theater Center Company is presenting “Seussical, Jr.” on Saturday and Sunday at the Woolfe Street Playhouse.
It features an all-kid cast, so it’s going to be charming as well as amazing for both the audience and the players. Dr. Seuss is well-loved by young and old, so this is the perfect afternoon or evening summer fantasy.
In this musical extravaganza, all of the favorite Dr. Seuss characters are brought to life, including Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie and JoJo, a little girl with a big imagination.
The colorful characters transport the audience from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos.
Shows are at 2 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 and 4 p.m. Sunday at the playhouse, 34 Woolfe St. in downtown Charleston. Tickets are $15 for all ages and can be purchased at www.Once-Upon-A-Ballet.com in advance or at the door (if still available).
Seashores and birds
There’s a new exhibit at the North Charleston City Gallery from Aug. 1-31, featuring mixed-media paintings by local artist Robert B. Reed and oil paintings by Montgomery, Ala., artist Maryann Goodhue.
Reed’s work “Outlying Shores: Annotations from Abroad” features the beach and shoreline from his world travels.
“Endangered” by Goodhue features a collection of oil paintings inspired by the devastation to the native bird population in her home state of Alabama caused by the 2010 gulf oil spill.
The artists will host a free public reception at the gallery, 5001 Coliseum Drive on Thursday from 5-7 p.m.
Auditions for singers
The Charleston Symphony Orchestra (CSO) Gospel Choir and CSO Spiritual Ensemble are seeking new volunteer members.
The CSO Gospel Choir is an 80-voice gospel group and the CSO Spiritual Ensemble is a 35-member vocal group focusing on African-American Spirituals.
The two groups will hold a voice assessment at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Second Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 342 Meeting St., downtown Charleston.
Volunteers are asked to prepare a solo of their choosing and vocalize in a choral setting.
Both groups will be preparing for a new season, including a holiday concert, Martin Luther King Jr. tribute, Piccolo Spoleto performances and other events in the tri-county area and beyond.
Call 991-1035 or go to www.csogospel.com
Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557.