So if you didn’t know we are in the middle of preproduction of Awoke the musical and it’s been a great journey. We have been diligent in creating this too be one that many will enjoy. Over the weekend myself, photographer Lina Baker and makeup artist Melissa Mosqueda along with actor,comedian Jamaal White got together at one of my favorite spots in the city Germantown Espresso Bar for the Awoke: The Musical covet shoot. It was fun just watching the process. Makes it even more curious as to seeing the final look of this when it all said and done.
Our choices of music for the production has been the challenge that I felt would be the thing that would bring the story together. For me that was a no brainer but to bring onboard creatives such as Vince Brown and Rugrat Nam to create the sounds and songs we felt would not only be direct in pulling together the story but holding on to the crowds attention as well.
With music it often becomes the life journey of a play and or film. As Karen’s work we all felt the need to make sure each piece represented not just the characters being portrayed but the ones that most likely would relate to them as well. We only have two more songs to go before we are done with the soundtrack but boy what a collaborative journey this one is for us all. Our casting went well and for the next blog we will talk about the cast.
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.
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?
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.
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..
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.
In every moment we often have to take steps that speak to us years to the day of actual doing. The stage was set black light no sound no movement but we stood in a booth awaiting words to begin the tunes. Jody and I looked at each other then she said play it. The track came on and a voice spoke. Out from the darkness walked a young lady tall thin but strong in stance.
The story had begun with a journey of engagement streaming between childhood to adulthood. She spoke of her times wanting to be free and in those moments the freedom was noticeable through leaps and bounds of a younger version in a tutu prancing with fun bringing life to the eyes that watched until they found moments within the story to tear.
In the mist of this we began to feel our own spiritual movement understand that this story has more than one meaning. In the end many say this as a gospel of not just a dancers life but all as the music and dim lights came outpouring cheers filled the room and three generations of one took a bow Justine understood that this wasn’t the dancers last dance…
If you didn’t know runboyrunprod is involved in everything. Last night was about the stage play #mysisterskeeper part of the #thinkcreateinspire festival with director writer Jody ‘Tru Story’ Austin assistant directors Tiffani Dean and Antoine K D Stroman. With an all woman cast covering powerful and emotional subjects, these women proved that #poetictheater is here to stay.
For Jody this was a dream come true as she took the moments of pain noticed in all women’s lives and made it a journey of sisterhood that could not be denied.
Covering matters of mental, physical and emotional abuse, self perseverance, body images, social awareness, equal rights and many more this play has answered the called that women have been waiting for and is the beginning of a journey that will go beyond the stage.
Take a bow ladies for the night is yours and the road has just begun.