Over the weekend we wrapped up underground episode. This was a test on how to run a show for two weeks and I must say there was a lot to be learned but it is definitely worth it. First things first, the cast compose of both veterans and newbies with a short timeframe of two months to learn probably one of the most challenging work that some of them have been a part of. For many including myself it was jumping from one production to another that was a challenge however for others it was just coming in and beginning the task at hand.
This time around we utilized collaborating with makeup artist Andrea Blassingame to create the looks, set up radio time for interviews, bloggers, and paid advertising in the metro Philly to get the word out on the production. We also utilized the site which the facility used instead of going the eventbrite way.
It was scary but I had to see what we could do and the end result turned out to be what we wanted. Now we are gearing up for next year to actually take advantage of all we learned.
The beauty of it all was swing how no matter what RunBoyRunProduction still continues to grow as a family and in the end this makes for good business.
Since our beginning RunBoyRunProduction has believed that art is the best way to tell not only stories but how reality is affected daily but the average person. One of our most impactful stories has been “Bully” (performed here by Ra Wilson) which is a story about a young man that got expelled from school but as he tells it they thought he was the bully but it turns out that he was the one being bullied.
For many of us the story is relatable especially if you come from the 80s and 90s when it was always those of us that were nerds that were being bullied. I tell you from experience being bullied as a kid was not a happy moment for me. Whether it was done by high school jocks or just someone who though I was an easy target my terror as a child was often followed by rage and regrets. However as an artist I had an outlet and that was being able to write, act, dance or draw the need to have an outlet was important In getting through such pain.
Because art was my outlet as a child for so many things, I make it my duty to do such for others after all we all need someone to listen to our stories. As I said before Ra has been doing bully since its incarnation and has since grown as an actor doing films and becoming a playwright himself. So now as we go into our forth year Ra has decided to pay it forward and give the role to a young up and coming Quashawn White as he makes his stage debut.
Bullying is not a laughing matter and in this day in time it has taken on a new form with the days of social media that it’s panic and terror has been one that many of us can’t turn our eyes from. However what we can do is stand up and fight for those that that need a voice those that need and outlet that in the end will look to you and say thank you for showing me how to stand.. How will you stand up to bullying?
Well as the new year has come so has the journey of Run Boy Run Production as we look forward to the coming of projects. This year our take is different as we look at the productions of up and coming Playwrights that will tackle subjects that are social issues that in the end will demand extreme conversation starting with Mississippi Smiles.
Mississippi Smiles a new play Written by Kamillah Abdul-Malik is about MARY a single mother who after a life full of abuse and failed relationships with men, decides to explore a relationship with a woman. The big question is it love or is it the mirror image that holds the answers?
Mississippi Smiles covers the issues of domestic violence in an area that has yet been done on stage and that is its overall effect in a same sex relationship. It also looks at it from the points of abusive house holds from childhood to adulthood and how it affects a person without thought where the abused might become the abuser.
With this being the first of a series of stage readings Mississippi Smiles is being bestowed upon its first audience January 18th at Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse followed by a feedback conversation that we hope will be enlighteningand empowering to all.
The travel was long 5hrs to be exact. We were all tired and believe me traveling through backroads going through mountains isn’t something city folk are used too. It was after 10 when we arrived being meet by Korey our house keeper.
The mission was a huge place and for the cast they were in heaven. Now I don’t know if that was from finally getting to the mission and getting off the road after 11pm or just dirt tired and wanting to get in a bed and not a van seat.
It’s Saturday and the show was on! We did’t realize the distance between where we stayed and TheatreRocs was so far but we made the travel and set up for the show. It was light on people but as I always say it’s not about how many come out to see you but how you perform that will fill the seats. Each actor put on a brilliant performance and it was a sight to see. For some they were being placed in roles they have never done and others adding new ones to what they already had.
In the evening the crowd had grown and it was time for another show. For Antoine and myself we manned our usual stations and was well assisted by TheaterRocs staff on both lights and sound. The cast jumped back into character and it was on! During our first show we had to cutt out three acts due to time and it looked like it was going to happen again this time it was two. But I had to look at it from an artistic standpoint as to who already had at age time and who didn’t. The end result all acts were liked but for me it left a bitter taste in my mouth because I wanted to give the audience the full impact of the show.
One night to we arrived a little early but the lady act was still in the process of finishing there production and when asked I said do t cutt into it let them do their thing. When it was our time all the cast members knew it was showtime as Nichole walked out screaming CD and DVD’s and catch the crowd off guard but still finding the moment to be funny. Derricks entrance was a story within its self as her s words lead the crowd into the unknown world that was about to begin as each actor began making ways out from the back as if they were catch a train. With some disruptive and others happy to see friends and others just talking on phones or reading news papers it was a whirlwind that this story had just began to tell the tale of a city that many may have never seen here before.
On Saturdays we gather and I must admit it is not an easy task however many show up and are capable and able to show me and others why they are here. What can you say about talent it is something that is made before you think, it is something that is there before you knew it was and when it comes to the cast they show it every single time in rehearsal.
The real fun begins after worse when everyone winds down loosens up and gets ready for whatever comes next. In my case many of my cast they don’t get a chance to see me just being me to them just having a moment to just be themselves. After the rehearsal to have the cast mates and myself went to one of my best friends house. On the block they were having a block party filled with music people fun and laughter it was a joy just see and be a part of something different.
We all have this separate world where art is art and hanging with friends is hanging with friends but to be honest with me it’s something that I like so to introduce cast mates and my friends to one another was like making a turkey sandwich they were the cheese the other the turkey and I was the bread bringing it all together. Yeah I know that’s kind of corny but hey I’m an artist I’m allowed to be corny. The best part of it is watching smiles watching laughter and watching people just enjoy themselves. I don’t recall ever seeing Tasha dance but when she heard “electric slide” it was like a kid in a candy store she just jumped up hands raised out screaming oh and she just took to the streets and started asking people come on come on join in join in and they did. Ra and I were onlookers and for us it was about having a good glass of sangria and taking in the music.
When the music was over Tasha walked off, she came over to Ra and myself and with a big smile she just said thank you. We all huged we all laughed these are the moments that I look forward to these are the things that I like to see in these actors joy excitement fun life outsideof acting and just being who they are pure with no scripts.
Last night When I got off work I had received a message about a play that I needed to see and in that last moment while sitting on the bus I decided to buy a ticket . The Last Jimmy a well written and crafted play by 4 young men Carl”Dice Raw” Jenkins,Ozzie Jones, Phillip Sean Brown, and Wadud Ahmad was a story that resonates in today’s times as it speaks on the life of a young man,played by Raw himself that is going through a mental fight with self to recognize a realize that although life’s challenges may contain plotted points to hold one back in the end it is up to the individual to see through the blur and affirm ones growth to happen as it stands to also help those that may need that same help too. With great acting from Carlo Campbell (you were a real jerk) as the prosecutor and Phillip Sean Brown as the defendant, there constant battle of wits and words over Raws awareness in how he is being judged and convicted without thought brought me to understand how we can be the destroyers of our own destiny if your not paying attention to the signs. With Domini Quinn Superstar as the courtroom Crier, he stood to be the many actions of so many lost souls that accept there place over overall feeling as if there is nothing more then this but in the end even he recognizes his worth is more then being seen as a sellout.
To me The Last Jimmy isn’t just a prisoner of a cell but of ones life. Often we can look at where we are and what we do in a job and feel like there is no way out Again this is a story that I feel will make you think open your eyes and understand that America has a lot of layers to it and none more felt then the jimmy’s.