Tag Archives: Andre Minkins

2015 UPU Conference- A Game Changer !

Whew! Urban Playwrights United Conference! Every year I say that the annual Urban Playwrights (UPU) United Conference can’t be topped and yet, every year turns out better than the previous year. 6th UPU Conference in 2015 was  no exception! Warning: This is NOT a “sit back and relax your on vacation” type of conference. Attendees hit the ground running! Many are warned weeks before to rest up!

The conference this year came with a special surprise! National touring playwright/promoter, Angela Dunlap was in attendance for the entire conference. She even sponsored a synopsis contest with the prize being the opportunity for the writer(s) to create a full script which she would consider producing!!

Our other special guest was the UPU perennial favorite, actor DeEtta West from UPTV and AspireTV! (Watch her most recent Christmas movie this Sunday night (12/13) on UPTV!

 

Not only did we reunite with old UPU friends and colleagues but we met new ones. Playwrights and producers from Michigan, Ohio, Rhode Island, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Texas descended on Columbia the capitol city of South Carolina for a four day information-fest covering the craft of playwriting, fine points of directing, successful producing, effective networking and marketing techniques.

The Thursday afternoon opening included and overview of the national organization of urban playwrights, directors and producers but quickly moved into a mini-course on developing multiple streams of income including a dynamic presentation by founder, visionary Vanessa Lynn on how to ‘write for hire’. Following this presentation was UPU Board member, Professor Ursula Robinson’s dynamic ‘Directors Intensive’ workshop where we learn in depth methods of not only directing our work but how to get the  most out of our actors.

The highly anticipated and competitive Two-Minute Play Competition team assignments were made next. This exercise teaches the attendees to work with others and about collaboration. Each team is composed of a producer, writer, director, technical director and marketing manager. They have approximately forty-eights hours to write, market and produce a two-minute play. If you don’t believe that the competition was fierce, check out the promos, pictures, videos and posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Assistant Principal Robyn Rease-Burdette, conducted early morning coffee groups about faith and theater and Art in public schools.

The conference included several field trips. One was a tour of Walk on Water (WOW) Productions studio, managed by UPU members Tangie Brickhouse-Beaty and Donna Johnson where additional workshops were conducted including one on Marketing and Budgeting by Tangie Brickhouse-Beaty.

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Winston-Salem State University professor Andre Minkins covered the difference between musical theater and music in theater, children’s theater and one person shows  including audience participation.

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UPU’s version of Shark Tank Pitch with panelists DeEtta West, Gail Lyles and Angela Dunlap.  The field trips continued to South Carolina Educational Television and to Township Auditorium where manager Aundrai Holloway gave a presentation on touring theater productions and negotiating power.

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Saturday was spent on the campus of the gracious South Carolina State University with a very informative presentation on Small Business Development by Charles Robinson, who explained that the creatives in attendance were in business and how the Small Business Develop Centers can help in establishing their businesses started on the right foot.

 

 

DeEtta West and yours truly discussed the power of effective networking and how positioning yourself can benefit one’s career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Call Me Brother! Wins at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival

Austin area Playwright wins Atlanta Black Theatre Festival award for her Black Lives Matter themed play!

 

DON'T CALL ME BROTHER!
DON’T CALL ME BROTHER!

Multiple-award winning playwright Jeanette Hill has garnered another award. This time for the Festival Favorite Award Best Reader’s Theatre Series for her black lives matter themed play, ‘Don’t Call Me Brother!’ at the 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival (ABTF) held at the historic Morehouse College from October 8th through the 11th.

Jeanette Hill is the founder and executive director of JWHill Productions LLC, a creative arts organization. JWHill Productions LLC uses the stage to tell original stories depicting the resilience of the African American people, spirit and culture. This is Ms. Hill’s fourth award in the last three years for her plays.

The Atlanta Black Theatre Festival is fast becoming one of the premier outlets for quality black theater for audiences, actors and playwrights across the nation. In its fourth year, guided by executive director, Toni Simmons Henson, it continues to grow in both numbers and quality of productions. The 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival received submissions from forty-two states and two countries.

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Ms. Hill was honored to have AspireTV, whose principal owner is Ervin ‘Magic’ Johnson as the presenting sponsor for her staged reading and panel discussion. The play’s theme resonated with AspireTV because of its timely and relevant subject matter. ASPiRE is dedicated to deliver enlightening and entertaining programming to African-American families that reflect positive images of the African-American community.

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The staged reading was followed by an informative panel discussion, ‘The Conversation We Need to Have’. The panelists included -National Order of Black Law Enforcement (NOBLE) member Rafiq Ahmad, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General Atlanta Regional Office; Timothy Tukes, a junior at Morehouse College and a 2015 All-Star Student Ambassador for the White House Initiative on HBCUs; Andre Minkins, Associate Professor at Winston-Salem State University; Reemo Rod, actor, co-owner of 3511 Media; Trebor Randle, Special Agent in Charge Georgia Bureau of Investigation-Child Fatality Review Unit and playwright Jeanette Hill. Clark Atlanta University instructor Eric J. Little, actor, director and writer moderated the panel.

Don’t Call Me Brother! addresses the impact of current events on individuals who carry the dual citizenship of being African American and working in law enforcement.

‘Don’t Call Me Brother!’ is the story of recently promoted Assistant Police Chief Andrew Merritt, whose close ties to the police force and to the black community come into question with the suspicious death of a black youth by a police officer, he is at a crossroad. Where is his loyalty? Each side wonders if they can trust him? More importantly, who can he trust?

It takes an amazing group of talented actors to bring a story to life and the ‘Brother’ cast did just that!

Derrell Lester, Eddie Oliver, Curt Keller Williams, Schelle Purcell, Tiffany Roberts (director), Kelvin Rowe, Noah Artis and Stephanie J. Williams.

Collage of Atlanta DCMB Cast

 

 

Testimonials!

What people are saying about ‘Don’t Call Me Brother!:

“This play captures exactly both the internal and external challenges that African Americans in executive law enforcement positions live with everyday. ”

     Patrick Ockletree, Assistant Chief, Austin Police Department

 

“Especially enjoyed the way the family dynamic was shown in the play. We seldom think about the impact these situations have on police officers of color. ”

         Earline Carter

This play should be seen in every major city in the United States!

Steve Savage, KAXI-FM Community Radio Station Manager

“Don’t Call Me Brother! is a voice carrying a message that some may have missed. It encourages us all to think critically about our role in creating the change we want to see in our community.”

Charles Robinson, Director Travis County Adult Probation

 

 

Jeanette Hill can be contacted at jwhill@jwhillproductions.com

 

 

www.jwhillproductions.com

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!

 

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Actor Irma P. Hall and playwright Melda Beaty
Taurean Blacque
Taurean Blacque
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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