Read what our Teen Ensemble members had to say after seeing the world premiere of Natasha Trethewey's Native Guard -
Had you told me two weeks ago that I would be sitting in a theater enjoying a book of poetry; I might have thought you were crazy. However, when Alliance's production of Native Guard opened you would finding me sitting front row unbeknownst that I was about to experience something that would ultimately bring me to tears.
Native Guard, beautiful written by Natasha Trethewey, is a collection of poems that covers the thoughts, emotions, and memories of her late mother as well as being bi-racial girl growing up in the South. Ms. Trethwey's writing doesn't just draw you in, it makes you feel something. This was enjoyable poetry not just because of the writing but also the cast. These words are brought to life by the amazing actress January Lavoy, who tells the story as though it were her own. I believe it was the passion she (January Lavoy) puts behind these poems by Natasha that reel in audiences. This production is not something you would normally find young teenagers, like me, attending, yet it is something that I feel every teen and young adult should be watching. Whatever your poetry background knowledge this piece remains relate able to everyone. I recommend everyone go view this beautiful piece, it is most definitely another win for the Alliance.
12th grade, North Atlanta High School
Native Guard was engaging. I was surprised that, despite the fact that the entire show was poetry, I was continuously being brought closer and closer to the text. The combination of the singer's voice (which was so purely soulful), the animations, photos and videos on the backdrop, and the actor's spoken poetry intensified the poetry and its meaning. The meaning of the poetry is so important especially now. Racial issues are currently at the front of the news, and being introduced into the topic of race in such a way that is inviting and not abrasive is important. Discussions of race are important, therefore segues into discussions of race are needed, and Native Guard was a masterfully crafted segue.
11th grade, Atlanta Girls School
Native Guard was truly a moving experience. The set was simple, yet interesting and the audience even got to add to the set with their own memories which made this show interactive! The projection was remarkable and kept me totally engaged, it was just enough to add to the poetry, but it did not take anything away from it! The music was also great! The singer and pianist were already playing when we entered and continued throughout the show. Even subtle melodies helped bring the poetry to life. The concept of a different speaker to address the audience for the second act is really creative and added great meaning to the poetry. This show is inspiring and thought-provoking!
11th grade, Atlanta Girls School
Never before in my life have I witnessed a performance where the music, set design, and acting came together so seamlessly to focus on the message as in Native Guard. For someone who doesn't usually read poetry, Native Guard is a welcoming and enlightening experience. Instead of distracting from the prose, the other elements of the show only help emphasize and clarify the meaning and the stories to the audience. Natasha Tretheway's words are very personal and unique, but the emotions she conveys are universal. I found myself being struck several times by the realization that Natasha Tretheway had artfully put into words the exact thoughts and feelings that I have had, despite our differences. The performance does a brilliant job of tying together all the pieces from Native Guard, including several beautiful moments between the Poet and the Native Guard, my favorite parts of the show. I cannot think of a better way to present Natasha Tretheway's work than this beautiful performance of Native Guard.
12th grade, Kennesaw Mountain