Category Archives: The 2nd Act!

‘Don’t Call Me Brother!’ At the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival



I am excited about the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival this year! Not only has my play ‘Don’t Call Me Brother!’ been selected as a special event for the ABTF but AspireTV has chosen to be the presenting sponsor for it!

The Atlanta Black Theatre Festival (ABTF) is fast becoming one of the premiere outlets for quality black theater audiences, actors and playwrights across the nation. In its fifth year the ABTF continues to grow in size and the quality of its productions.

AspireTV is dedicated to deliver enlightening and entertaining programming  to African American families that reflect positive images of the African American community. Aspire also creates new and unique opportunities for the next generation of the African American creative community.

Don’t Call Me Brother! addresses the impact of current events on individuals who carry the dual membership of being African American and being in law enforcement. A panel talkback,  ‘The Conversation We Need to Have’ with community leaders will be held immediately following the reading to discuss possible solutions to bridging the gap of distrust between our communities and law enforcement.

‘Don’t Call Me Brother! is the story of Andrew Merritt, a high-ranking African American police officer with ties to both the police force and the black community. With the death of a black youth by a police officer under questionable circumstances and his recent promotion, he is at a crossroad. Where does he place his loyalty? With his family who has a long history of civil rights activism or with the police department where he has devoted twenty-four years of service. All eyes are on him.


Tickets are available at under Special Events!

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Austin Event!! “Don’t Call Me Brother!” Staged Reading




Another black youth has been killed by a police officer under questionable circumstances. Recently promoted Andrew Merritt’s first task as Chief of the Community Liaison Department is to restore his former community’s confidence in the police department.  At the same time he attempts to maintain the respect of his activist family and his fellow police officers. His loyalty is in question from both sides.

Is this new job a step up…or a set up?

Join us Sunday, September 27th at 2pm:

The Boyd Vance Theatre

1165 Angelina Street

Austin, TX 78702

Doors open at 1:30pm

Light refreshments will be served

This is a dramatized stage reading followed by a panel discussion from community members.

$15 Adults/$10 Youth (under 18)

Don’t Call Me Brother Tickets

This event is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division, City of Austin and Austin Creative Alliance

COA City of Austin.logo.2013



Penumbra Summer Arts Institute

I am always excited when I see the natural order of things-art should reflect life and life should reflect art! I also believe that as artists we have an obligation to not only entertain but enlighten and educate. The Penumbra Summer Program appears to have this on lock!

Acknowledging that the teens of today will be our leaders of tomorrow and we need to treat, teach and train them as though they were, the Penumbra program tackles the issues of social justice and activism head first-without adding sugar. This is wonderful because often we don’t credit our young people with being savvy enough to handle tough life issues-even when they are facing them every day!

An excerpt from the article written by Marianne Combs of MPR News about the summer arts program that is hosted by Penumbra Theatre:

St. Paul’s Penumbra Theatre is known for being one of the premiere African-American theaters in the country. Less well known is its summer youth program, which teaches teenagers not just about acting and directing but about race, class and other social justice issues.

“This is a completely different kind of education,” Khadar said. “I’m a lot more mature, socially aware. I want everyone that I love to go through Penumbra — it’s amazing.”

The Summer Institute began more than 20 years ago, but Penumbra co-artistic director Sarah Bellamy relaunched the program in 2006 with a new focus on social justice and activism. The theater says it is preparing its students for lives as “artist-activists.”

“I think the end result of students going through this program is deeper critical consciousness, civic engagement, tremendous empathy and passion for creating social change inside their communities,” she said.

I hope you enjoy the article and more than that I hope that the Penumbra program lights a spark that will ignite of similar programs to spring up across the country.


National Black Theatre Festival–Dream come true!

Attending the National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF) for the first time was the equivalent of a kid’s first trip to Disney World. I was in total awe of the people, sights and sounds as I stood on the Holy Ground of Theater. In addition to the plethora of great theater that I saw at the NBTF in Winston-Salem, NC, I experienced a sense of family. Everyone I met shared a love of theater, either from the stage, back stage or in the audience.

It was a whirlwind experience! The National Black Theatre Festival is the grandfather of black theater! To many it sets the standard by which all other black theater is judged. I always wondered if this was an accurate or even fair comparison. I am talking about the quality of the work not the genre.

I had been told that I would see any and everyone that I hadn’t seen for years on stage or television and they were right! And even better-they were all personable. Very nice! Can you imagine meeting an actor that you’ve admired over the years and he or she is asking you what play you are going to see?


While I have to admit I have seen some great, quality urban theater. (Please! Traditional theater purists stop screaming!! There is room for us all!) The theater I witnessed last week was simply amazing! The National Black Theatre Festival is more than worth the trip. Put it on your calendar for 2017! You won’t be sorry!


Actor Irma P. Hall and playwright Melda Beaty
Taurean Blacque
Taurean Blacque
Aduke Ameru hosting memorial tribute for Garland L. Thompson, Sr.
Andre Minkins rehearsing for a staged reading.
Andre Minkins rehearsing a staged reading.
Playwright MIcki Grant
Playwright Micki Grant
Musician/Artist Rome Neale
Musician/Artist Rome Neale
Vanessa Bell Calloway, director Anita Dashiell-Sparks, Ursula Robinson and me
Vanessa Bell Calloway, director Anita Dashiell-Sparks, Ursula Robinson and me


I don’t know exactly when Tyora Moody came up with the idea to bring together women who achieved success in a number of different industries to offer advice to women who thinking about or who may have already started on the road to entrepreneurship but “When Women Become Business Owners” is pure genius!

Readers will get practical, first hand information on not only the ups but also the downs of being in business but also steps to sustain your business,  your personal life and sometimes even your sanity from women who have been on the front lines!


SIV Compilation Photos of WWBBO

When Women Become Business Owners will become a ‘go to’ manual for those who are looking for advice, strategy and encouragement in this faith-based chronicle of life though a business lens.


I am honored to be included the first of the anthology series of ‘When Women Become Business Owners’ and to be in the company of such wonderful women who were kind enough to share their knowledge and experiences.

I believe people will refer to it often as they navigate the roller coaster ride of business.

Valuable advice from successful women business owners
Valuable advice from successful women business owners

Tribeca Film Festival Celebrate Trailblazers Misty Copeland, Constance Baker Motley

Great news from the Tribeca Film Festival concerning Misty Copeland and Constance Baker Motley. Two amazing women who made a difference in their respective fields!!

Tribeca Film Festival documentaries celebrate two African American women trailblazers, Misty Copeland and Constance Baker Motley.



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 Misty Copeland

Constance Baker Motley w james meredith


Constance-Baker-Motley-2 no limitations







Constance Baker Motley






via Tribeca Film Festival Documentaries Celebrate Female African American Trailblazers Misty Copeland, Constance Baker Motley.

The Blood Quilt Premieres at Arena Stage

The Blood Quilt Set to Make World Premiere at Arena Stage

Katori Hall’s new comedy-drama begins its run tonight.

The cast of The Blood Quilt: Afi Bijou, Meeya Davis, Nikiya Mathis, Caroline Clay, and Tonye Patano in Katori Hall's The Blood Quilt, directed by Kamilah Forbes at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.
Afi Bijou, Meeya Davis, Nikiya Mathis, Caroline Clay, and Tonye Patano in Katori Hall’s The Blood Quilt, directed by Kamilah Forbes, at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.
(© Tony Powell)

The Blood Quilt, begins performances at Arena Stage tonight. The show centers on four disconnected sisters who reunite after their mother’s death. At their childhood home off the coast of Georgia, the sisters begin to create a family quilt in their mother’s honor. When this meeting turns into a reading of their mother’s will, they are all presented with a troubling inheritance. Their “blood quilt” of history and ritual has the power to bind them together or tear them apart forever.

Written by Katori Hall and directed by Kamilah Forbes, the show features Afi Bijou as Zambia, Caroline Clay as Gio, Meeya Davis as Amber, Nikiya Mathis as Cassan, and Tonye Patano as Clementine.

The creative team includes Michael Carnahan (set design), Dede Ayite (costume design), Michael Gilliam (lighting design), Timothy M. Thompson (sound design), Toshi Reagon (composer and vocal consultant), and Kurt Hall (stage manager).

“Writing the play was a transformative experience for me,” says playwright Katori Hall, “driving me to learn about the rich, cultural heritage of African-American quilters that extends even throughout my own family. I love each and every one of the Jernigan sisters as if they were my own, and I’m excited to share this new piece with D.C.-area audiences.”

Performances will run through June 7.

For tickets and more information, click here.

Playwright Katori Hall Talks New Arena Stage Work THE BLOOD QUILT

Katori Hall has a way of combining storytelling and legacy that I just love!! This sounds as compelling as her work in “The Mountaintop.” Article from Capitol File magazine.

Playwright Katori Hall Talks New Arena Stage Work


As she readies a new work for Arena Stage, playwright Katori Hall muses on the importance of new dramatic voices and the fabric of families.


Katori Hall
Through her writing, playwright Katori Hall says that she represents the stories of black women.Raised in Memphis, Tennessee, playwright Katori Hall is burning up the boards with the dramatic legacy of the New South. In 2010, she became the first black woman to win the Olivier Award for Best New Play for The Mountaintop, a fictional depiction of a conversation between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a maid at the Lorraine Hotel the night before King’s assassination. A member of Arena Stage’s inaugural class of American Voices New Play resident playwrights, Hall recently sat down with Capitol File to discuss the world premiere of The Blood Quilt, an all-female ensemble piece about family and inheritance.

This fall, 44 theater companies are committed to presenting new works by women, and Arena Stage is at the vanguard. Four of its nine shows this season are premieres, including The Blood Quilt.
New plays are everything. Yes, everyone does Shakespeare, the oldies and the goodies. You have to do A Raisin in the Sun—it is beautiful, perfect. But we need to make room for the new Lorraine Hansberrys. Often, new plays are seen as a risk. There’s an assumption that theatergoers are older and don’t want to see new plays, but that’s not the case. They are hungry to be revitalized by the new.

Tell us about The Blood Quilt.
I reckon I’ve been working on this story all my life. The quilting bee becomes a reading of the recently deceased mother’s will, and the drama ensues as the sisters need to decide what things they need to keep in order to move into their lives’ third act.

Why quilting?
My grandmother is a great quilter. She grew up in a sharecropper’s family. She gathered other people’s scraps to make her art. She has an uncanny eye for quality, color, and form. Quilting is her outlet, much like writing is mine. She showed me a quilt she’s been working on for 68 years—wind cannot get through these stitches. I had to have a story in my repertoire about how you can put your past into the cloth to get it out of yourself.

You are the youngest of four sisters. How much of this story is your own?
The play is not just influenced by the interactions I have with my sisters. My mom and dad both have a lot of sisters, and I wanted to put that onstage: the language of women who come together to be uplifted by their sisters—blood relatives or metaphorical sisters. As we grow older our friends become our sisters. This is my anti-August Wilson play: I wanted to put a bunch of women onstage and let them speak.

Recently Cicely Tyson said finding roles as an older black woman is a struggle. You trained as an actress—are you writing for yourself?
I am writing to tell black women’s stories. We are being erased—quite literally in the streets. Not being represented is a murder as well. I can combat the seemingly un-combatable struggle by representing the stories of black women.

You are 33. How do you get it all done?
I recently had a come-to-Jesus moment, and realized it was time for a personal assistant. I was beginning to operate on the edge of myself: I have a new play in my life; the greatest creation of all, a child; and I’m rehearsing two plays. I must say my husband is the only reason I can write so much. You have to marry the right man, but if you don’t, you find the right day care or the right caretaker. Women find the help they need. The Blood Quilt runs April 24–June 7 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW, 202-488-3300




April 21

Mixed Blood will welcome its 3rd world premiere of the season, a love story about Rwandan immigrants living in America, trying to recreate the traditional wedding ceremonies in a new place, while simultaneously struggling with the violent atrocities of their past. The production follows the structure of a traditional Rwandan wedding ceremony and features live drumming and dance.

Alyze and Martin are in love. Martin drives a taxi, and Alyze cleans office buildings at night to get by. When Martin proposes marriage, Alyze happily accepts, but in this new country, without family, without money, without traditions, they must forge a new path to make their marriage their own. Alyze has always dreamed of the traditional Rwandan ceremonies, but Martin feels that a Justice of the Peace is all they can afford. Alyze finds herself stuck between two worlds.

The cast features Ethiopian American actress and Mixed Blood regular Antu Yacob as Alyze, and introduces Kenyan American actor Owiso Odera to Mixed Blood audiences as Martin. This show also represents a reunion for three artists who last collaborated on 2009’s award-winning production of RUINED by Lynn Nottage: Kenyan American actor Irungu Mutu, Liberian American choreographer Edna Stevens, and director Aditi Kapil.

Artistic Director Jack Reuler: It is a primary tenet of Mixed Blood that people like to see themselves on stage reflected in important ways. In this 55454 Series (about Africans and Muslims in America), and in this season (“at the intersection of virtuosity and social change), YOUNG NEGRESS STEPPING OUT OF THE RIVER AT DAWN, brought to us by gifted actor Owiso Odera, embodies both aspirations. The finest performers in the land meet a great script that personifies the intentions of the Series and ambitions of the season. For a theatre dedicated to the development, production, and dissemination of new plays, producing Dean Poynor’s world premiere allows us to walk our talk in new and ever-improving ways.

Playwright Dean Poynor: In the play, Alyze and Martin end up making their own wedding: piece meal, handcrafted, one-time-only. They use the resources they have at hand, including their cultural traditions, their tragic memories, and their rich imaginations, to make something both utterly unique and deeply familiar. The theatre is the perfect way to explore this story. Theatre events are always unique – the show changes night to night with the truth of the moment. And the inverse economy of performance demands that you strip away everything that is non-essential so that the most vibrant thing – the actors on stage making characters come to life – can be seen most clearly. Making theatre is a collaborative effort between human beings. It has been a privilege to make this play with Mixed Blood, for you. I trust that we will introduce you to someone you have never met, but who you’ve known your whole life.

Actor Owiso Odera: This is an African love story and to be more specific, a Rwandan love story, between two well written black African characters. That combination does not come along very often in the American Theater. Love is universal and we can all identify with that but it is rare that I have gone to a theater in this country and experienced a beautiful love story between two African characters. The other aspect of Dean Poynor’s play that makes it compelling to me is a strong African female character at the center of the story. This play is the story of Alyze and how she navigates and negotiates being an African woman, an African/American woman, and an immigrant living in America, trying to balance what elements of her culture to hold on to while adopting and assimilating to the western world. Alyze is full of wit, passion and loves deeply. I do not see this African woman on stage very often and when I read this play, something in me could see my mother, sisters and aunts fully expressed on stage in ways I probably never saw them express their feelings in real life. A story from a part of the world I come from told with sensitivity, truth and humor. How could I pass that up?

The design team includes set designer Lois Rhomberg, lighting designer Paul Epton, costume designer Annie Cady, and drummer Ahanti Young providing the sound bed for the show.

The 55454 SERIES is a curated series of four plays about, for, and with Africans and Muslims in America. Each production runs one weekend only. The series also includes January’s PILGRIMS MUSA AND SHERI IN THE NEW WORLD by Yussef el Guindi, February’s AFRICAN AMERICA by Warren C. Bowles, and April’s HIJAB TUBE by Seema Sueko.







RED BANK: ‘BLUES’ WITH SOMETHING EXTRA– I love this title, I love Ruben Santiago-Hudson and I love this project!  Would love to be present for this discussion. I believe that the Arts must be an integral part of any real and sustainable social change!  In fact, it can be the catalyst for change.


McGreeveyMayorEdRubenFormer New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, former Asbury Park Mayor Ed Johnson and actor-director-playwright Ruben Santiago-Hudson take part in an April 26 panel discussion on Creating Social Change, an event keyed to Two River Theater’s world premiere of Santiago-Hudson’s YOUR BLUES AIN’T SWEET LIKE MINE.

From materials furnished by Two River Theater Company

With its world premiere engagement at Two River Theater, Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine marks the Red Bank return of Tony winning actor, director and August Wilson authority Ruben Santiago-Hudson — this time at the helm of his own original script; one that “brings an unlikely group together, spawning a passionate and explosive debate on America’s relationship to race.”

The second of three shows to make their world premiere at Two River this spring, the production also comes loaded with “extras” that range from downloadable playlists of vintage blues and jazz music mentioned in the script — to a series of on-site offerings that begin on Thursday, April 23 with a special exhibit of items from the Gene Alexander Peters Collection of Rare and Historic African American Artifacts.

On display in the theater lobby between 6 and 8 pm, the exhibit chronicles five critical periods for African Americans within the history of America: slavery; segregation and “Jim Crow;” the Civil Rights Era; the Black Power/Black Student Movement; and the Black Panther Party. Peters, a cultural history consultant and noted collector of rare African American artifacts, will speak about the collection from 7:15 to 7:45 pm, and will be available to answer questions. Take it here for additional information on the exhibit.


As part of Two River Theater’s ongoing Nosotros series, which makes theater accessible to Latino audiences, Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine will be translated into Spanish via a screen visible to the audience during the 3 pm matinee performance on Sunday, April 26. While the adults in the family watch the play, their children and grandchildren will enjoy stories, theater games, and snacks in the theater lobby under the supervision of bilingual teaching artists and babysitters. These family-friendly events will take place between the hours of 2:30 and 4:45 pm. Tickets for this performance are $10; patrons should use the code “Spanish captions” when booking.


Following that April 26 matinee performance, the Two River stage will host a special discussion about Creating Social Change moderated by TRTC artistic director John Dias, and featuring Ruben Santiago-Hudson with two special guests — Ed Johnson, who served the City of Asbury Park from 1998 to 2013 as Mayor, City Councilman and Chairman of the Urban Enterprise Zone; and former Governor of New Jersey James McGreevey.

Johnson is a Visiting Scholar and Lecturer in Political Science at Rutgers University and Brookdale Community College, while Governor McGreevey currently serves as executive director of the Jersey City Employment and Training Commission; spearheading re-integration programs for former prisoners through this post and other volunteer activities.


According to the TRTC team, “during the play’s rehearsals, its actors and creative team were surrounded by an ever-growing collage of background information, contemporary news stories, pieces of art and poetry that inform the action and mood of the play,” with the company recreating that collage as an ongoing lobby display “to illustrate how the elements of a new play reach far beyond the rehearsal room.”

A video interview with Ruben Santiago-Hudson will also be screened in the lobby at 15-minute intervals (beginning 45 minutes prior to every curtain time of Your Blues), while a post-play discussion is scheduled to follow every performance.

Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine continues through May 3 with a mix of matinee and evening performances. Take it here for tickets ($20 – $65 adults) plus details on other special performances — and here for redbankgreen‘s interview with the show’s star, Broadway and TV actor Brandon J. Dirden.