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Series a myriad of abstract art

"Do you Know Me?" is a show essentially comprising a series of original numbers of dance, scenes and monologues combining poetic rhyme, rap, prose, song and the like.

The series, directed by German Wilson, was the modern performance by the North Philadelphia-based Village Theater that ran last weekend at the South Broadway Culture Center.

It was performed by inter-generational casts of Village Theater youth, local adults and professional artists. Linking each of the colorful elements of the show, which span through time from the ancient tribes of Africa to the modern urban lifestyle, is the notion of the spirit of god - "YaMo."

Cast members include 13 Philadelphia student actors and two professional actors, Zuhairah McGill and Anthony Kamanti.

Elaborate music, costumes and choreography bring forth the idea of eternally observing YaMo, even as time and the attitude of what it means to be human pushes forward.

As the show progresses, members of the cast step forward to portray aspects of this nature of life through various types of storytelling grounded in different points in time.

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These actors create and perform their scenes through their own eyes, all of which lead up to the fundamental questions of the show: as humans, who are we?

Where are we?

Where have we come from?

What do we feel in this 21st Century time and place, and how is the unchanging spirit of YaMo continuously shaping our lives around us throughout various adversities?

"My name is Ancient ... do you know me?" asks a narrator, played by Kamanti.

He then goes on to explain his timelessness, observing and recording human life for eternity. There are sequences of skillful dance throughout the show, representing the human spirit in different stages.

Stories of journeys set around ancient African tribes of the Congo explore the human self and the desire to find wisdom and freedom. Powerfully charged monologues give a modern, urban portrayal of what it does indeed mean to be human in the 21st Century after history has shaped us in such a way.

Wilson has been involved in the theatrical arts at Yale University and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

He now works with young adults in the non-profit Village of Arts and Humanities organization, using art and theater as a tool for people to better understand the nature of who they are and how their histories have shaped their lives.

For the most part, "Do You Know Me?" was emotionally charged and fascinating.

The costumes, the choreography and the ideas furnished onstage were admirable.

It was also a bit unclear whether or not the show was designed for a youthful audience.

Since the pieces were created mostly by younger actors there was a decidedly younger feel to many of them; I wondered if perhaps the show could have been just as effective if it had tackled its subject matter with more complexity. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable experience in the world of performing art.

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