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The House of Talent
By Angel Colon
Photos by Enita Okodiko


Performing Macbeth

While the Harlem School of Arts has been around for many years, it recently gave birth to a remarkable new program -- The Classical Theatre of Harlem.

"Here is where great talent is found… a place where talent is created," says Alfred Preisser, director of the program. It teaches youth in the community advanced acting skills through workshops and the staging of plays.

As a director for nine years, Preisser has seen plenty of talent come and go. Ultimately, he hopes that the group's remake of William Shakespeare's Macbeth will boost the confidence of the performers to help keep their enthusiasm of acting and dancing.

Three other Witches from Macbeth

Most of the cast have already gone to the Harlem School of Arts and have the experience necessary to put a play together. Others have not gone through the school of arts but have performed in several productions in other schools or community centers.

The first three witches in the Macbeth play are Rocio Alexis Mendez; 16, Tracy Johnson; 19, and Wema Harris; 21. Mendez has been a part of the Harlem School of Arts for five years. Johnson, the second witch, has been a part of the Harlem School of Arts for six years. Their parts in the play include supervising other witches. The trio has been working together for a number of years including earlier projects sponsored by the Harlem School of Arts.

They state that art lets out a person's natural feelings such as letting your hair loose and walking bare foot on stage during a performance. All three of them hope that one day they can all pursue a career in acting or dance.

While Wema Harris has only been apart of the Harlem School of Arts for two years and doesn't have the same experience as Rocio or Tracy, she has reaped many benefits. "One day I will look back at this place (Classical Theatre of Harlem) and give thanks for all the training they have blessed me with," Wema said, giving thanks to the place "full of dreams."

The theatre has only been around for one year but it has received a lot of recognition due to its plays. The entire cast hopes that after the production is over, Macbeth will get enough recognition to push them to create another show.

Members of the community can hear about the play from word of mouth or fliers that are given out by the staff. The production takes place at the school's court yard which is located at 645 St. Nicholas Ave. at 141st street.

Performing outside the Harlem School of Arts may be difficult due to weather conditions but so far, nothing has stopped them from doing their thing.

You can find the Classical Theatre of Harlem at 141st street in St. Nicholas Ave or call (212) 539-8828


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