That’s me at Single Carrot on a frigid Thursday night. Next to me are several of my “Telling: Baltimore” cast members. Standing is Jim Perry, and sitting almost out of sight if Jeremy Paris. We’re in the small rehearsal space, that was PERFECT for an intimate reading. We had about 15-20 people, some of whom had come for the first reading — mine was the second. The “B-SideMan” reading was all I could have hoped for and more. Received LOADS of positive reaction. And, since I was the only reader, I have to say it felt great to see that my ideas and stories within the play can work. It’s such a free-form script, just a long monologue — BUT — the recollections and themes are pretty spot-on. Not only with how my life has played out artistically but also how my marriage to Nicole and my loss of Charles have ENHANCED who I am as an artist. Ahhh, it sounds so simple.
The painful moments worked, funny moments worked and the overall thread of the play stays true. What I now want to do is make the valleys and crevices of the connections run deeper and wider. Actually, the next night we went to a jazz concert featuring Oliver Lake and a former student from UMBC who’s not a Piano Powerhouse, Lafayette Gilchrist. The last time I saw Lafayette was about 10 years ago. He was playing an outside concert at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The Oliver Lake concert brought back lots of remembrances about the first time I really heard jazz — and it was at (of all places) Marlboro College in Vermont. My teachers offered me tutorials in jazz, black drama and black literature — they wanted to make sure I connected to my roots. They knew I was an outsider at Marlboro (only black man there for three of my four years), and a couple folks in particular Geoffrey Brown and Tom Toledo got me good and exposed. As I’ll be mentioning in “B-Side” the first time I heard Coltrane and Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders was at Marlboro. And I also got a healthy dose of “Black Arts Movement” artists and creative politics. So all of that will factor in with my revisions. But how lucky am I to be able to have a new play read in the dead of winter?! I could be at home grumbling about the weather. But, instead I worked FURIOUSLY to get the script into shape. There’s nothing better than working on a new play, my friends.
So, this past week I was invited to be one of 3 guest speakers for the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA) Brown Bag Lunch. We’re all speaking on the theme of Arts and Healing. Here’s some info on the other speakers:
- Peter Bruun, artist, educator, curator and community activist. You can learn more about Peter here, and his new project, The New Day Campaign, here.
- Monica Lopez-Gonzalez, cognitive scientist and multidiscinplinary artist. You can learn more about Monica here.
Again, what a fantastic invite! I recently met Peter Bruun and I’m looking forward to meeting Monica Lopez-Gonzalez at the event. They couldn’t have picked a better topic for me to be speaking about.
I’d have to say that February has been very kind to me. And still with a few more days to go!