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African American Actor Lester Jones and the Chicken Made of Rags

Tribute to Lester Jones

African American Actor Lester Jones, as the Duck in the Chicken Made of Rags, 1974 in San Francicso, CA
African American Actor Lester Jones, as the Duck in the Chicken Made of Rags, 1974 in San Francicso, CA

It is a joy to remember Lester Jones, lifting my spirits a little higher. In 1974 Lester, then 24 years old and a marvelous African American actor, performed in our musical children’s play “The Chicken Made of Rags” first produced by the JulianTheater in San Francisco. Lester played the “Duck” in that historic multi-cultural production that toured the city’s schools and parks. My brother, Philip Serrano, wrote the marvelous songs and played the music and I wrote the script with Judith Binder. It was based on an old Caribbean family story our uncle used to tell my brother and me at bedtime.

Lester suited the role of the joyous Duck, a balloon seller in the park. “Balloons, I sell balloons. That’s how I spend my afternoons.  Take a journey to the stars and moon. Buy my balloons.” The Duck is the supportive friend of the heroic little Chicken Made of Rags with her bag full of dreams. Together they set off on a romping journey through San Francisco. His friends say that, when Lester spoke of his 30-year acting career, he often mentioned the pleasures of performing in the “Chicken Made of Rags.” Lester traveled with many theater companies around the United States and other countries.

Chicken Lester Ballons
Lester Jones as the balloon selling Duck in the Julian Theater performance at Precita Park, 1974, San Francisco, CA

Although the play has been produced in other times and places, it is Lester’s interpretation of the Duck that Philip and I still reminisce about and appreciate. It is a great gift to see your work brought to life with the gusto, artistic skill and loving charisma of Lester Jones.

His memorial will be held on July 16 at 6 PM the African American Art & Culture Complex, 762 Fulton Street, between Laguna and Webster Streets in San Francisco, Calif., in the Buriel Clay Theater. Lester Charles Jones, formerly of Little Rock, Ark. transitioned May 11, 2013 in San Francisco, CA VA Hospital. Refreshments upstairs at 8 PM to 9 PM.

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