which I wrote about in the past.
Heavy... was the first of a trilogy and we are finally getting to see the next stage.
My comment after the first show was that every teacher should see it:
I've been telling teachers that this is a special show for them. How Ernie was disparaged for reading too much and told his fate was drugs. How he lost 8 of his friends to aids, drugs and murder by the time he was 17. I feel this show lays lies to so much of the ed deform crap - Ernie was a good student yet still had to go through so much shit. Unless we as a society figure out how to help tackle the shit kids have to go through we will be pedaling backwards.Ernie is performing Smoke at the One Festival at Teatro Circulo
64 East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
Tues. Apr 25 at 6PM (I've got my tickets)
Thurs. Apr 27 at 8PM (I'm going again)
Sunday Apr 30 at 4PM (I can't make this one)
You get to see a few shows and vote. Ernie has won this in the past with his first play. So come on down and vote.
If you missed Ernie's earlier play, he is reprising Heavy Light the Weight of a Flame Wed April 26, 2017 at 8PM at a different theater on the lower east side - Latea, 107 Suffolk St. 2nd Floor. I'm going to try to make this one too.
I learned a lot about Ernie's history in Heavy, 30 years after he was in my class, making me realize I should have known some of this at the time. But kids like Ernie who was smart, well-behaved, and socially well-adjusted - well, a teacher doesn't think of looking too deep.
Since we have been in contact on FB, I have also been more sensitized to racial issues.
His new one man show, Smoke, promises to touch on all kinds of political issues -- see the provocative trailer below -
I hope I get to see some other former students at these shows. Last time I ran into a few - but missed some who came on other nights.
Here is my post from 6 years ago:
Sunday, February 27, 2011
What I Learned From a Former Student: Ernie Silva One Man Show Rocks -
|Ernie Silva (center) with Mendez (left) and Mark-Viverito|
Ernie will be performing for a month at the upcoming Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Every time I see Ernie, who was in my 4th grade class in the early 80s (he's around 39 now - oy!) I learn something new. (It was also nice to see Dino, another former student from the same class who is a former NYC teacher. Dino is always there to support Ernie.)
His performance gets better as he hones his story (the first of an upcoming trilogy). His characters get sharper and more distinct, reminding me of the great Nilaga Sun who wowed people with her one woman show, "No Child Left." - see video here. And he keeps adding topical material. And there and more interaction with the audience. I know this bothers some theater people. I went to see Ernie perform with my acting teacher during the summer and his only criticism was this breaking of the "4th wall" because he feels it took Ernie out of character and into stand-up comedy territory. Ernie as a former stand-up comedian falls naturally into this role and it works for me.
There were a some ladies in the audience who grew up in the same projects as Ernie (and still live there) and totally identified with Ernie's life. One, in tears, thanked him so much for making the connections. I spoke with City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez after the show and she is also is a Williamsburg gal, going to an elementary and middle school not far from the Bushwick projects.
Most important for me was the lessons for educators (I wish every teacher gets to see their students grow up and interact with them - there's a better chance if you remain in one school and neighborhood.) I wrote about it before:
I've been telling teachers that this is a special show for them. How Ernie was disparaged for reading too much and told his fate was drugs. How he lost 8 of his friends to aids, drugs and murder by the time he was 17. I feel this show lays lies to so much of the ed deform crap - Ernie was a good student yet still had to go through so much shit. Unless we as a society figure out how to help tackle the shit kids have to go through we will be pedaling backwards.Every ed deformer who says that education through the right teaching/teacher will override all the outside stuff should hear Ernie's story, which is focused on his family - two brothers were involved in drugs - both died very young. Ernie and his friends were accosted by cops - just for walking as a group in the streets. I wonder if the "scholars" at Harlem Success Academy will be defended by Eva Moskowitz when they are teens hassled by cops for being black?
Ernie is so articulate and well educated. It showed especially during the post-show Q&A talk back where the audience got to ask him questions. People were congratulating me for my supposed role in Ernie's education. I laughed. I had nothing to do with it. Ernie was in one of the two "One" - top- classes I had and could read years above level when he came into my class. And his dead brothers probably were good readers too - good readers tend to run in families. Ernie graduated from Murry Bergtraum HS and went onto college, eventually getting a scholarship to grad school at the USC acting program.
Read this description about "Heavy Like the Weight of a Flame."
A product of the Bushwick projects in Brooklyn, New York R. Ernie Silva honed his talents while sleeping on odd couches, in random hostels and homeless shelters, and while riding freight trains around the country. The story of this journey, Heavy Like the Weight of a Flame, has won the NYC’s One Festival; been nominated by LA Weekly for Best Solo Performance and most recently won the Hola Award for Best Solo Performance. Ernie’s story and performance was described by the LA Times as “inspiring.”In the talk back, when asked how he escaped his brothers' fate, he said show business was another side of the hustle his brothers went through in the drug world. Actually, he shared some wonderful insights - wish I had a tape.
You can see Ernie on video:
Promo 3 min: "Heavy Like the Weight of a Flame