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Juneteenth Performances: Renee Johnson as Cornel West and Allison Fradkin as Alice Waters

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

Mosaic Players is excited to be a part of BRIDGE's 3rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 18th. We'll be presenting two monologues from our upcoming touring production of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 by Anna Deavere Smith.

Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 is composed of a series of monologues by real people connected directly and indirectly to the Los Angeles riots. Cornel West and Alice Waters were two of the people interviewed by playwright Anna Deavere Smith who documented their conversations in play form.

Renee Johnson will be presenting Cornel West's "Checkhov/Coltrane" monologue.

Snap Shot of Cornel West in 1992: Cornel was a professor of religion and director of the Program in African-American Studies at Princeton University. He won the 1992 Critics Choice Award for “The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Geneaology of Pragmatism.” He published Race Matters in 1992 which achieved bestseller status and gained the attention of Time magazine and Newsweek, leading both publications to run extensive profile articles about him. Race Matters, a collection of essays, was published exactly one year after the start of the riots in Los Angeles that were sparked by the acquittal of four white policemen on charges of aggravated assault in the beating of Rodney King, an African American motorist. The book discussed the pervasive despair and “nihilism” of African Americans in poverty and criticized African American leaders for pursuing strategies that West believed were shortsighted, narrow-minded, or self-serving. West also considered issues such as black-Jewish relations, the renewed popularity of Malcolm X, and the significance of the Los Angeles riots themselves.

Renee Johnson is honored to have the opportunity to bring her talent and experience to Mosaic Players. Renee is an actress, orator, and storyteller with over 30 years of performing on the academic and community stages of Lake County, IL. As a storyteller, Renee’s goal is to keep the African American History narrative alive by sharing stories that inspire and highlight the resilient spirit and journey of African Americans. She specializes in dramatic portrayals of historical African American women (Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Marian Anderson, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm and Fannie Lou Hamer). Offstage, Renee is a resident of Antioch, IL, and Retired Army Veteran. Renee is a Founding Member of Mosaic Players and serves as its Executive Director.

Allison Fradkin will be presenting Alice Waters' monologue "Marching Orders."

Snap Shot of Alice Waters in 1992: Alice opened Chez Panisse in 1971. Chez Panisse is located in Berkeley, California and is famous for its role in creating the farm-to-table movement and for pioneering California cuisine. The James Beard Foundation awarded her Best Chef in America (the first woman to win this award) and Best Restaurant in America (Chez Panisse). Waters also encouraged President Bill Clinton to plant a White House garden (Michelle Obama later heeded Waters' advice in conjunction with her anti-obesity campaign Let's Move!, and planted the White House organic vegetable garden in 2009).

Allison Fradkin is a playwright with thespian tendencies. Scriptly speaking, she creates satirically scintillating stories that enlist their characters in a caricature of the idiocies and intricacies of insidious isms. An enthusiast of inclusivity and accessibility, Allison serves as Literary Manager of Violet Surprise Theatre, curating new works by queer women, trans folx, and non-binary folx; and as Dramatist for Special Gifts Theatre, adapting scripts for actors of all abilities. As an actress, Allison has performed in plays and musicals in such colossally comedic roles as Annelle in Steel Magnolias, Frenchy in Grease, Dolly Tate in Annie Get Your Gun, Mae Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie, Miss Brooks in Our Miss Brooks, and Blair Warner and Lucy Ricardo in parodies of The Facts of Life and I Love Lucy. Allison's auxiliary activities include vintage shopping, volunteering, and designing nifty nostalgic necklaces. Allison is a Member of Mosaic Players. The Juneteenth Festivities begin at 1 pm on Saturday, June 18th and will be held at 656 Bridgeport Terrace in Lake Villa, IL.

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