On April 29 and 30, the Concord Academy Performing Arts Department staged The Cradle Will Rock. This “play in music” was written in 1937 by composer Marc Blitzstein as part of the Federal Theatre Project, a New Deal program during the Great Depression to fund artistic performances.
Set in “Steeltown, USA,” the story details the corruption surrounding a town magnate, Mr. Mister, and his anti-union Liberty Committee. Blitzstein’s piece, almost entirely sung-through, takes satirical aim at the police, clergy, press, and even artists—at everyone who sells out for personal protection. In refusing a bribe, Larry Foreman, who has been trying to unionize the town’s workers, declares that in time a collective movement will rise against exploitation.
Michael Bennett, head of the Performing Arts Department and musical director of the show, describes its music as inflected by jazz, Tin Pan Alley, and cabaret songs similar to those of Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill. CA’s 2022 production honored a tradition of performing the piece with piano accompaniment alone.
This year’s production of The Cradle Will Rock was guest directed by Sarah Shin, a Boston-trained, Brooklyn-based theater artist and co-founder of Asian American Theatre Artists of Boston (AATAB). Shin first encountered the show during a production in the fall of 2016, as the world awaited the results of the U.S. presidential election. In weighing how many societal shifts we’ve experienced since then—and, indeed, since 1937, when the play was first created— Shin wrote in the program notes, “What I wanted to hit home with the students, and with this production, is that change starts with empathy.”
“When we are able to open our hearts, use our privileges, come together and rally behind a unified message,” she said, “our collective voice has the true power to demand change for a better world for all.”
More Arts Stories
On May 17 and 18, acclaimed dancer, choreographer, and educator Rashaun Mitchell ’96 visited Concord Academy to share his artistry with the CA community. Mitchell gave a talk and demonstration with three collaborators in the dance studio. Several CA students joined him for an improv dance workshop. And in his Hall Fellow Lecture, he shared his personal story, as a late bloomer who started dance training at 15 years old at CA, as a mentor and teacher who has encouraged his students not to fear failure but to use it as a catalyst for growth, and as an artist who works in many forms.
“The arts are the healing balm of the world,” said Andrea Renee Long-Naidu in an artist talk at Concord Academy on April 27. CA dance program co-directors Rika Okamoto and Alex Brady moderated this all-school assembly, and the Q&A session gave students a chance to ask several questions about Long-Naidu‘s art form, her career as a professional dancer, and diversity in the dance world.
On April 8 and 9, CA’s student jazz ensembles gave a wide-ranging concert at Music Cafe in the P.A.C. View a gallery of images from the performances of the Jazz Ensemble, Advanced Jazz Ensemble, and the Vocal Jazz and Pop Ensemble.