By the end of the first half, the score was 68 to 2, and the good guys were being trounced soundly on the basketball court of life.
Despite the lopsided score, few in Saturday's crowd were leaving as the Everyman Street Theatre Company staged "Bones." On a sunny afternoon in Georgetown's Canal Square, the young troupe of street players gave the first performance of "Bones" to open a 14-performance schedule that will take them to Washington street-corners, parks, housing projects, museums and public buildings. The traditional opener at 14th and T-streets NW, had been rained out the night before.
In "Bones," the game of basketball -- with its patterned plays, superstar rivalries and big payoffs -- has been turned into a metaphor for life in a lively, bouncy musical morality play. And the youthful members of the east, drawn principally from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, gave their all in energy and spirit to play the musical game.
"It ain't bad to be bad," the bad team taunts the good as they build up a huge lead with dirty tactics and seductions. But, as in any good morality play, the good guys rally in the end after a pep song on "Don't Let a Setback Set You Back." In one of the most miraculous turnarounds in sports history, the final score is 99-98.
Barry Orms, who played some professional basketball himself, wrote the book and lyrics for "Bones" and Genovis Albright added the music. It was staged off-Broadway under the original direction of Glenda Dickerson.
Mike Malone staged the street-theater version, and the young dancers and singers carry it off with vigor that makes up for the sometimes erratic voices and acting. The choreography has some bright moments with the pom-pom-waving cheerleaders, the slowmotion and freeze-action sequences of the players' on-court movements and the antics of the grandstand crowd.
The traveling acting troupes of the Middle Ages had it a lot easier than today's Everyman Street Theatre Company, which has to travel with sound equipment, amplifiers for instruments, and long snakes of electrical wire to be hooked up to a power outlet. It is a major logistical problem to move costumes, equipment and staging for a two-hour musical with a troupe of more than 70 performers, understudies and technical experts.
This is the 11th season for the Everyman Street Theatre Company, which operates under the aegis of the Workshops for Careers in the Arts, headed by Jewell Robinson Shepperd. This year the Xerox Company contributed $50,000 to the Workshops to pay the salaries of the young artists and technical staff.
After their Washington neighborhood tour, the troupe travels to Philadelphia on Aug. 25, and to New York for two performances: Harlem on Aug. 30 and the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival Aug. 31.
The scheduled performances in Washington are:
This week: Today at noon, Waterside Mall, 601 M St. SW. Tomorrow at noon, National Gallery of Art, Constitution at Sixth NW; and at 6:30 p.m., Langdon Park, 18th and Franklin streets NE. Thursday at noon, Municipal Center, 3rd and Indiana Ave. NW. Friday, 6:30 p.m., Mayfair Mansions, 3700 J St. NE. Saturday, at noon, Arthur Capper Dwelling, 925 K St. SE; 6 p.m., Meridian Park, lower level, 16th and Florida Ave. NW.
Next week: Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2 p.m., Children's Museum, Third and H streets NE; Wednesday, Aug. 27, 6:30 p.m., Fort Chaplin Apartments, East Capitol and Benning Rd. NE.