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.
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.