Maya Angelou & local musician/storyteller ellen cherry & more “New Day” News)

My next “Waxter Wisdom” presentation will be Maya, and I gotta say — where to begin? She’s led quite a remarkable life, and there’s so much-much-much material to choose from. She was the first black cable car conductor in San Francisco, for goodness sake. How’d she get to that?

Maya Angelou   Also, many folks don’t know that she was an actress, and starred in “Porgy and Bess” and “The Blacks(review from a fairly recent production in England) by Jean Genet. I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I plan on incorporating her poetry with dance and music. Maya had 5 or 6 lifetimes. I’ve got 45 – 50 minutes to investigate how they all came together.

I’ve been attending New Day Campaign sessions around town. It’s quite an undertaking that Peter Bruun is launching. My goal is to participate as a producer and artist. I’m also working with local musician ellen cherry and the veterans from Telling on a live-with-audience webcast performance. ellen is much more than a singer-songwriter, she’s got that “visionary” gene lurking about. Watch/Listen to the hand-cranked puppet theatre film “Pickett’s Charge” that ellen does the song for. ellen also suffers from PTSD, and that’s why/how Peter “brokered” (his words not mine) our acquaintance.

Picketts-Charge-Slider-Feb-2014   This will all be shaping up during the summer, with New Day exhibits/performances/speakers and events scheduled from between October 1st to Dec. 31st. Lots to do, lots to do……

“Waxter Wisdom” Performance & The New Day Campaign

March has been a VERY busy time. This past week I presented the “Marian Anderson” performance (I wrote and directed) at the Waxter Center and it went over like gangbusters.


Laura Sligh was Marian, accompanied by (once again!) Chris Henry (my super-duper deluxe piano player from the Welch Library.)


Not the best pics — but the performance by Laura (standing & sitting) was ASTOUNDING. She did six (count ’em, 6) song by Marian, and the script had a few amusing moments. It focused on the denial by the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) of Marian’s request to sing at Constitution Hall. It created quite a brou-haha, at the time. And brought all sorts of allies (Eleanor Roosevelt, Walter White, Howard University) to Marian’s side. Marian’s life as a trailblazer was so amazing that, as I told the audience in post-performance comments, “tribute must be paid”. Not surprisingly a few “Amens” accompanied my comment.

Less than an hour later I was at a Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance Brown Bag Lunch, one of three panelists, who talked about Arts and Healing. More than a few sparks flew at this event, because, in more than a few cases — someone in the audience and on the panel, had experience dealing with an extreme personal loss. There were a few tears shed as people shared remembrances. The conversation on how the arts attempts to “rescue” (my words) those who’ve suffered was, in fact, a very

healing process, in and of itself. I heard someone relate how they’d recently listened to a monologue by a girl who’d been abducted into the slave trade, and that sparked something in me. I want to get involved with that. I can only imagine how it must feel to reflect on that — writing something that gives a glimpse into that fascinates me to no end. There were many art therapists who came, and I of course relayed my personal loss (son Charles) and my work with the Telling Project. I give great thanks to

Arts & Healing Dialogue

Jeannie Howe, Director of GBCA (and recently appointed Secretary of the recently revived Callaway Garrison Improvement Association, CGIA — Yours Truly is President) for the for the invite.

Arts & Healing #2   A couple days later I was a member of the NEW DAY CAMPAIGN planning session, hosted and founded by Peter Bruun. One of Peter’s assistants worked on this drawing, that actually outlines the goals we’re hoping to achieve, during the entire two hour meeting. The campaign breaks down how — starting in the fall — we’re concentrating on Performance/Sharing/Readings/Exhibits/Speakers to bring attention to how the various artistic expressions work to challenge stigma associated with existing behavioral conditions.

New Day Campaign

Again, more exciting stuff that I can’t wait to get started on — AFTER I’VE SPENT THIS SUMMER DOING SOME SERIOUS BIKE RIDING. Last summer I was consumed with “Telling,” and didn’t have time to smell the roses on two wheels. This summer will be different. Especially since this past winter it was so ARCTIC that I couldn’t do that riding I wanted. This summer it’s, as they say, “not going down like that”.

“B-SideMan” Wins A Grant

md. state arts council

Oh Happy Day…….

Who says February is a cold, dreary month. Not Alonzo. I think it’s a fabulous month. And even though March has come in like a lion, it feels pretty fabulous to me also! Let me tell you why winning this grant surprised me. I told Wiffee Nicole two days before I got the notice that I didn’t think I had any chance. “B-SideMan” was such a new concept for me (not for the style of the play), and I just didn’t think it had the juice MSAC was looking for. We’re so conditioned to negate the presence of positivity. Well I have to eat my words. And I am, one smile at a time. This is the 4th MSAC grant I’ve won, and I’m thrilled to pieces. As always for artists, it’s ALLLLLL about the recognition.True Dat. I imagine winning an Oscar feels almost as sweet. What I’ve found is I really want to savor the experience. Bask in the glow. Enjoy the MSAC reception. I sure did back in 2012. That’s me below, outside the American Visionary Art Museum.

Me Too Dressy

It was a starry night. And I enjoyed the company of everyone who was there. Especially a couple artists I’ve known for a good long while. Ahhhhhh, yes. It good to reflect back and see where you’ve been. And yet, still love where you are right this moment. As the character “Alonzo” says in “B-SideMan,” — “one thing started to inform the other.” Congrats to everyone who won. Congrats to those who didn’t. I’ve been to both places, and will be back to both again.

But right now, I’m enjoying the fact that I’m a Playwright. And stuck with it.