BERKELEY TIMES PERFORMANCE REVIEW
February 8, 2018
Black History Month tends to man Meeks, this play has been 50 IS well written and well played,
inspire top-notch lively arts, and carefully evolved through the and it features a full cast of char-
perhaps this year’s most outstand- years to incorporate feedback acters who occupy all points on
ing show of all is the current pro- from audiences, especially details the love-hate spectrum. In that
duction of PORT CHICAGO 50 at remembered by survivors. For way, it's very revealing of the
Black Berkeley Rep - a historical example, when Berkeley Times struggles of the oppressed and
play by David Shackelford and visited this production last Fri- worthy of one's attention -
Dennis Rowe (who also directs) day, Olympic Gold medal winner especially during these strange
based on the life of Port Chicago Eddie Hart was in the audience times.
survivor Freddie Meeks. and introduced to all after curtain
This drama sizzles with racial calls. Eddie explained that his fa-
tension from the get go. The year father, AJ Hart (now deceased)
is 1944. WWII is in full swing, and was a Port Chicago survivor and
segregation in the U.S. Navy is the friend of Meeks. Then Eddie des-
status quo. Then on July 17, at cribed how his father's memories
Port Chicago, a munitions naval of the explosion and its aftermath
station not far from Concord, some- had influenced this production.
thing went terribly wrong, an explos- According to Eddie, after the
ion so large it was felt in Nevada. explosion his father was given the
The blast made headlines, yet did grisly task of picking up unidentifiable
not end the blatant racism within body parts - a memory that is re-
military ranks. So that's when this created in the opening scene of the
drama climaxes with intensity second act. No dramatic punches
Told through the eyes of sea- are pulled here. PORT CHICAGO
From The Desk Of Mayor Deborah Robertson
December 30, 2017
“Bringing the production of Port Chicago 50 was a profound historical moment for Rialto! The play was masterfully presented, and powerful in recreating a significant tragic military event of racial injustice, indifference and gross disregard for African American seamen.
The true event should continued to be told but, more importantly, the recorded history of California as well as U. S. History, should become a required lesson plan taught in K-12 schools regarding history, civil rights, and racial injustice!
I applaud co-writer and producer Dennis Rowe, for his delivery of the play, and I look forward to Port Chicago 50 returning to the Inland Empire in 2018!
Additionally, a special thank you, to my sponsors NewMark Merrill and Lewis Companies.”
Mayor Deborah Robertson