Tag Archives: DeEtta West

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.


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.


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.






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.








I Want My Vagina Back! Review


 I Want My Vagina Back!
Jeanette W. Hill

Pamela Love (Book Author)
Portrayed by: JaQuitta Williams, Crystal Fox, Towanda Braxton, Nevaina Rhodes, Tanya Freeman, Dana Peebles and DeEtta West.
Directed by: Mia Kristin Smith

The 2014 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival may go down in history as the year of social commentary undertones. Several of the performances, while totally entertaining, presented an undercurrent of personal and social issues that resounded with many in the audience. As if the title, synopsis and the ‘No Men Allowed’ marketing for the stage presentation of I Want My Vagina Back!wasn’t enough to pique the interest of the curious, the line of four hundred plus women extending to the front door waiting to be admitted to the main stage theater had anyone passing by stopping to look and ask.

   I Want My Vagina Back! tells the stories of every woman that we all know and maybe that we have been at one time or another. Women who waited or who weren’t allowed that choice to wait, women who wanted or wanted to be wanted, women who cheated (yes, we cheat too), women who faked it (you know what I mean), women who didn’t have to, women who were fooled and women who willingly played the fool.

   Towanda Braxton breaks the ice by saying those things we are told it’s not polite to discuss. Things such as size, ability, roughness, timidity, etc. Her “no holds barred” opening set the tone for the rest of the discussions that would follow. JaQuitta Williams then portrayed the tried and true woman. The woman who ‘waited’ – a noticeable while – for the right man and didn’t understand why others didn’t because her life, sexually and in all other ways, reflected the virtues of waiting.

  The incomparable DeEtta West brought the seasoned senior spin on the whole sex thing putting a little preaching in there while extolling how as mothers, sisters and friends, it is incumbent for us to have open, candid discussions with our daughters, sisters, and any young woman we can reach, on valuing their total and sexual selves. Actress Crystal Fox’s portrayal of a married woman who liked good sex – really liked it – at first, caused a few blushes and more than a few moans from the women in the audience. But as she went on to tell what happened when ‘liking’ it went beyond the boundaries of her marriage vows, it caused those same women in the audience to shed a few silent tears as she told of the never-ending price she had to pay for “great sex.”

  Another young woman discussed how she developed her appetite for married men. She had decided after listening time and again to her mother, aunts and friends speak with disdain about their husbands’ dalliances with other women, spending their time and money on these women, that she would not join the ranks of the unhappy spouse, but instead just enjoy the benefits of being the other woman – for years.

With each successive monologue the audience of women envisions a Friday night ‘Girls Night Out’ with the girls sitting around the living room sipping on beverages of choice, disclaiming the calories that accompany the drinks and munchies. There are transparent discussions about a woman’s secret place and how we lie on it, for it and about it and also how we let it be used, viewed, ignored and sometimes abused. Each monologue uncovers how our choices on what we do with our vaginas, how we do it and whom we do it with can and often do alter women physically, emotionally, socially, psychologically and even financially.

I Want My Vagina Back! is a phenomenal stage piece. Adapted from the book of the same name by Dr. Pamela Love, this play is really a social and feminist movement. I predict that Dr. Pamela Love’s book and subsequent dramatic presentations and conversations will soon be seen nationwide.

Jeanette W. Hill
Playwright and founder of JWHill Productions