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.
I found out something today that most men didn’t know existed and it’s called defending womanhood. So I took my usual walk to Dunkin Donuts to get a cup of tea when my ears could ignore the conversation behind the counter. Thee young ladies are talking about the weekend when one said to the other so when we going to hook up. The other young lady said to her I told you before no and the other young lady then becomes persistent. Come on you know you want to try when all of a sudden the other young lady gets upset and says look I am not I to women please don’t come at me like that ever again and then walks away from the counter to the back.
For this conversation it sparked something that I am sure is a mist. Often we here about people being homophobic but what about those that aren’t but find themselves having to defend their womanhood due to increased pressure by those that have the mentally that “they can make you change sides.”
Now none of this has to do with attacking a community but because she (meaning any woman) may choose not to be into women doesn’t give those that are the right to put pressure on one to assume they are or can be changed. I have talked to a few female friends of mine over the years about this subject but I must be honest I wasn’t paying attention. It has been the norm in life (or should I say because of entertainment) to believe that all women are attracted to one another but that is far from the truth. Think about it do you see men openly pressing up on other straight men (no) because it could possible lead to something violent. I don’t know about you guys but society is messed up that defending your womanhood can get to this type of point.
Last night was a great beginning for us a writers as we went to the PDC Playwrights Happy Hour at FergiesPub. I have been here many times but this time was special as it was a first time presenting new works by myself Antoine Stroman,Henderson Sealy,Demetrius Ford and Ra Wilson. I must admit my nerves were getting the best of me before this day as we began this story sometime last year. Being for brothers we were doing something that we were all probably not us to and that’s writing with others and bringing a cohesiveness to a story that as Antoine said has not been explored in mainstream theater before.
We sat in a group with others reading a story of ethnic hardship and utilizing members in the group to read dialogue that spoke diversity within a group but was also as real as it can get. Handing out parts to each person was easy but I felt I needed to prepare the readers by letting them know the dialogue would contain explicits and vulgarities. In the end the group loved the way the story was coming together and gave us pointers on how to further explore the depths of the characters. Well fellas we have a story to finish and our beginning is one to grow on.
The cast made it down after a long haul 4hrs drive in a van and Nic in a car but they made it. I really wanted to get them settled in but because of time we had to get ready for the show. Everyone flipped around flopped around but changed into characters as fast as they got here and it was showtime.
The crowd was thin but this was with the right people to get more out. With journalist, photographs,vlogers and blogers on hand all this meant was Friday was going to be the turn up show. In the end all that came enjoyed and event shed tears. Last words said I can’t wait to see this again. Let’s get ready people more to come..
It’s supposed to be spring at least that’s what we were told.. Well it’s Friday and instead of going home or doing anything like rehearsal or preparing for next weeks show I decided to just go do something different. I purchased tickets to an event in Penns Landing but it’s cold and standing outside in it isn’t for me. My 2nd choice for tonight was to hit The Prince for a theatrical dance show but I was told that a friend of mine Sam was in a play so I jumped online got a ticket and thought to myself wow it’s a moment just for me…
In a place that was once the Women’s Kensington Hospital the ancestry of women speak. Drum like a lady Latrice and Jamillah allowed the sounds of the drum to bring in the spirits as the crowd couldn’t help but participate as the heard the drum of the mothers like it was the heart beat of our beginning of rhythm. Showing us rhythm through beat boxing bring the people together through life of rhythm.
But song can be created through woven rhythm as well as Lynda Grace shows in her she utilizes fiber woven vessels to create a medium ancestry speaking from a past life of mothers wombs to life’s moments of meeting individuals from scrap metal collectors to the black lives matters experience. Beginning from the grandmother showing her and watching her knit, her knitting was a form of community seeing that words can build a shield.
Although they have meet in conjunction with this project the art that speaks through Lynda’s has has extended into the photography of Sheenas.
Sheena Garcia speaks through pictures with stories ranging from single mothers protecting their sons and seeing the need to hold on to a sons life with a black and white imagery that leaves you understanding why these lives matter.
The owner of this building Betsey Casanas maybe short in stature but her calling as an artist speaks to a higher level as she opens the doorway into her culture with demential artistry that looks as alive as the the cock story tale that began the piece. Engulfed in enjoyment roots energy and culture the people came in the building getting a story fluid with diversity but in the end containing a wholeness that only these women could spin.
Some performances are made off of just talent a person believing that to be an actor is all about just learning how to nail the line. Truth is its about more than that in many cases it’s about the unwritten words that show in facial expressions the crinkle in your voice the eyes drawing the audience in.
For Nichole Spain she has drawn off that energy to latch people into another descent of acting and theater that most look at as passé. Truth is it is here where actors have to rely on the courage within the soul of self and not just the ability to speak because here your emotions must become believable.
In this world she can find her comfort but it is only when she believes in self that all else will not matter and the ticket brought on this day is marked sold because all now believe.