PAST PERFECT! The Front Porch Divas are hitting the floor running in Past Perfect .
Is the past ever really in the past? First Lady Claire Gilmore is about to find out that the short and long answer to the question is ‘No’.
Elated at being the youngest recipient of the Governor’s Lifetime Community Service Award, she and the FPDs (Front Porch Divas) are celebrating her accomplishment,
She has dedicated more than twenty years selflessly serving the at risk young women in her community. Not even the FPDs know that her dedication is rooted in a twenty year old secret…until now.
Her troubles seem to being when the new college professor, Sean-Michael Abbott moves to town. You see, Sean-Michael is the only other person who knows the secret she has tried to hard to redeem herself from.
What starts as gifts, cards and nice messages turn in to threats and danger. The FPDs rally around her but with no clear indication of where to look, it seems hopeless.
At the point Claire must confess her past indiscretion to Quentin, her husband, it looks like she;s lost everything.
But has she?
Join us for six performances of Past Perfect at the Boyd Vance Theatre in the George Washington Carver Museum April 14-22, 2018!
Don’t Call Me Brother! –Andrew Merritt’s recent promotion to Assistant Police Chief of the Community Liaison Office, carries the responsibility of restoring trust between the police department and his old neighborhood a priority. The fragile balance between his life, career and family is broken when an unarmed African American youth is killed by a white police officer under questionable circumstances. All eyes are on him. The community is asking is he Black enough? The police department is asking is he Blue enough?
He is asking himself if this promotion was a step up or…a set up?
Don’t Call Me Brother is a story that moves seamlessly from the front page of any major newspaper into the homes of those with the dual citizenship of being African American and in law enforcement.
I wrote this play as a result of watching news coverage of the social unrest in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD as I watched the faces of African American police officers who were dispatched to quell the unrest. How must they be feeling? There is no doubt they joined the police force to protect and serve their community but there was absolutely no doubt that they fully understood why their brothers and sisters in communities of color were angry. Many of them were probably angry too.
I will preface this piece by saying that they is without question improvement needed on both sides of the badge. Law enforcement and communities of color have much work to do. Unfortunately, these changes will have to happen concurrently with improving the
So I contacted a number of African Americans who were in law enforcement and asked their feelings about the recurring situation in this country, in fact, in their cities about unarmed African Americans being killed by police officers…without any consequences or accountability.
Their feelings, though not publicly stated were similar to those expressed by the African American communities across the country. It goes beyond cultural literacy. There are officers wearing the ‘blue’ who shouldn’t be allowed to.
(Don’t Call Me Brother! WOW Production in Columbia SC)
They also know that key to improving relations between communities of color and law enforcement is that this problem must be corrected. According to several of the law enforcement officers, one of the biggest problems is that it is almost impossible to remove the unsuitable officers on the force from the inside. Community involvement is needed, meaning residents must step forward when there is a problem concerning an officer’s behavior.
Unfortunately, the people who have the most to gain from lodging complaints, also have the most to lose. They are residents of the communities with the problem sand are acutely aware of the cliché that ‘snitches get stitches’. The fear of reprisal from the police is very real to the people in these same neighborhoods.
I watched and listened to the interviews with the families and friends of the dead men. I watched and listened to the politically correct and crafted response to the shootings from the various police departments made by someone who didn’t look like the victim. I started thinking about those with dual citizenship. Being African American and being in law enforcement.
*My next blog addresses some of the push back I got for the play…*
Theatre Producer, Toni Simmons Henson grew up in Hillside, NJ in the backyard of Broadway. Her passion for theatre stems back as early as when she was 8 years old when she and her sister, Wanda Simmons, the writer and age 9, produced plays in their backyard and basement for neighborhood kids.
In 2004, Henson became the Executive Director of Drama Kids of Princeton. Drama Kids is the US franchise of the Helen O’Grady Acting Academy.
The Australian based academy is the largest children’s acting academy in the world. In just a few short years, under her tenure, the Academy enrolled over 750 students and produced over 80 plays and presentations. The program grew to five locations and two summer camps. The explosive popularity of the program attracted national publicity including articles in Entrepreneur Magazine and the cover of the Princeton Packet Weekend Magazine. Henson received two awards for distinguished achievement.
In 2007, Henson moved to Atlanta and founded Micah 6-8 Media, LLC. Under that company, she produced two hit plays entitled Once Upon a Dream by Khristi Adams and Big Girls Gotta Eat, Too! by Melissa Blackmon and Wanda Simmons. Big Girls Gotta Eat, Too! toured four cities and was a part of the 2012 DC Black Theatre Festival.
In 2012, Henson founded the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival where over 200 artists perform 40 plays in four days. This annual event attracts thousands of theatre lovers from 24 states and three countries. In 2014, Micah 6-8 Media, LLC was nominated and awarded first runner-up as Emerging Business of the Year by the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce for the Festival’s “significant contribution to economic development and community impact.”
The festival hosts an annual event gala that has honored theatre legends such as Taurean Blacque, Melba Moore, Pearl Cleage, Alia Jones-Harvey and American Theater Hall of Famer, Woodie King, Jr.
Henson holds a B.B.A. from Howard University and an M.P.A from New York University. She has been married for 25 years to Antonio Henson, V.P. of PNC Bank and together they have four children.