October was a month to remember as Run Boy Run Productions of CultureTrust Greater Philadelphia had projects running in not one but two parts of Pennsylvania but also how both projects stand tall to be about social issues within communities of today and that is domestic violence and abuse.
Starting off with Boomerang as it previewed works from the performance piece at the Koresh Dance Showcase. With a story that has never been told, Boomerang is one to bring focus to how children are affected by abuse of in a family specifically African American male as it can often be something that molds them in belief that these actions are how you are suppose to be or want to treat someone even into adulthood. Truth is this story is not limiting and is real in many communities and whit every piece as they unfold many will watch and see someone in this maybe even themselves and understand the need of raising a family under a positive roof can be the true focus for a positive youth.
Our other play Mississippi Smiles has been making a move since its birth from paper a year ago. With a focus on domestic violence and abuse as it effects women that transition from heterosexual to the lgbtq community it brings a big focus as to how it’s often about what baggage we choose to keep in our lives then recognizing how to heal first.
With an all star cast and director to match, Mississippi Smiles was a sold out show and had many wanting more. The understanding of domestic violence and abuse awareness is to see that it’s effects can be felt in many ways, shapes and forms and for us we are glad to bring stories to life that generate not just thought but conversation.
Last week I had a reminder that what I was doing was ok. As I was having a bad day and feeling down about the direction I was taking. I was at a gathering when someone said to me “man you are busy Run Boy Run Productions is everywhere!” I paused Smiled and said thank you. The funny part is that when I walked into the building I had been in my feelings and felt like I was doing things wrong and that looking out for others was setting myself up for failure. It was in that moment when she said those words it helped me to understand what I was doing was ok and looking out for others was ok too. I felt so good about that moment then other things started popping up on my time line that also leaned into helping me to understand what I was doing was ok. After awhile I made sure I got on my messenger and let the UE family know about this as I look at the moments as a reflection of them and what we all have made. In my mind I am no more then a person that allows others to bring strength and life into a creation and when they do it is noticed. With that being said I told them how proud I am of them and all they have done throughout the years. For me so many deserve the praise that comes with this and through the years many and I’m not talking about just the actors but the collaborators, the team members, and the volunteers without any this feeling of strength is because of them. And with that moment I sat down to understand and feel ok.
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.