Johns Hopkins “Five Minute History” looks at my old Callaway Garrison Neighborhood

Back in early June I was interviewed by Johns Hopkins, Executive Director of the Baltimore Heritage, about the Callaway Garrison neighborhood I grew up in. Callaway Garrison has an EXTREMELY rich history, in no small part due to their neighborhood association (the Callaway Garrison Improvement Association). Well, my father was one of the founder’s of that association and he is the key “player” in the mystery behind who planted the twenty-some apple trees in the neighborhood decades ago. This interview was done in the middle of Callaway Avenue, and it’s a story that makes me enormously proud.

I think once you hear this story you may have the same emotional reaction I had when I first unraveled the history behind this story. I can’t relay the powerful sense of family and heritage that I felt when this was all uncovered. Many of my former Callaway Garrision neighbors (I currently live in another neighborhood) know this story and we’ve all been touched by how this historical legacy was passed down. Obviously, many neighborhoods have great stories to tell, but I’d place this one on the top shelf. Hope you enjoy the video.

“B-Side Man” performance coming Saturday, July 9th at The Ivy

Yes indeed, my friends! I’ll be performing my solo play at the Ivy Bookshop.

Here’s all the specific where/when details. Very excited to have the opportunity to perform the play again. I loved doing it for the Marsh Solo Festival, but that was waaaaaay back in March. The play seems to catch folks by surprise. Maybe because it’s definitely got “a voice,” and over the course of the performance that voice becomes starts to bring you into the heart of the play. So sayeth ye humble Playwright. Without giving away anymore, I’ll just say that I’m pretty pleased with it. Needless to say, it’s very personal and covers lots and lots of cultural and personal territory.

The poster below is what I I used back in 2016. I had several performances in NYC at a performance space called THE TANK, and then several more performances with the Baltimore Fringe Festival. Little did I know I’d still be “peddling” the play 6 yrs. later. When I first created it, I thought I needed an actor to learn my 20-some pages of script. As time went by I realized I’d already found that actor — ME. I didn’t really want to perform it, but had no alternatives on the horizon. But I believe in this play SOOOOO MUCH that I can see it reaching the proverbial, “new heights”. I can see that happening……

“That Serious He-Man Ball” Comes Back Around

Sharing good news never gets old! Sharing good news is ALWAYS a freakin joy! “That Serious He-Man Ball” will be performed in Atlanta at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company this fall. Dates are Sept. 27th – Oct. 23rd. 22 performances, my friends.

It’s kicking off their 20th season, and I’m proud as punch. Why? “He-Man” was produced in Atlanta 34 years ago. 34. Years. Ago. Who knew something I’d written from soooooooo long ago would still be “in fashion”. But there it is. And as fate would have it, Kenny Leon acted in the very first production of “He-Man”.

When I was contacted by Jamil Jude (Artistic Director) I felt humbled and inspired, humbled that my play was still on someone’s radar and inspired by the fact that it was chosen to kick off their season. Who knew that my three characters, Sky – Jello and Twin, would be showing up again after three decades. I’ve always believed in “He-Man Ball,” and having that belief get confirmed (over and over, since it’s my most produced play) is a reward all by itself. I’ll be posting more as we get closer to September. So this is my Easter Surprise, and I gotta say this is so much better than an Easter Egg hunt.

Special Thanks to The MarshStream!

I had a blast performing”B-Side Man” this past weekend for the MarshStream International Solo Festival.

And an extra special thanks to David Hirata, an eclectic performer in his own right, for handling my tech stuff (Zoom always seem to have a surprise or two) and keeping me plugged in. It’s always a delight to perform “B-Side” and I feel privileged to have been chosen for the Festival. The Marsh is allllllllllll the way out yonder in San Francisco and I’m happy my voice got heard. The Marsh is finalizing recordings of all the performances, I think around April 1st they’ll be available. I love the play (natch!) and any opportunity to perform it is a true gift.

“B-Side Man is Alive n’ Kickin!

Are you with me? It’s been a long time, but here I be. Still doing Theater! Can you believe it? Oh by gosh, by golly. So let’s get right to it. My script “B-Side Man” was chosen for the MARSH INTERNATIONAL SOLO FESTIVAL. I’m tickled pink. I’ve always believed in this script with a passion, and to be included in the Festival is a privilege and a joy.

The MARSH lives up to it’s name because there are Playwrights from around the world who’ll have their works performed. My performance says 1:00pm, Saturday March 26th. But it’s actually 4:00est. I was notified right around the end of February, so I’ve spent all my waking days and nights re-memorizing “B-Side.” Sounds simple enough, especially since I wrote it. But trust me, it’s trickier than you think.

Performances are free. But registration is required to get the zoom link for the performance(s). If you’re interested, register in advance and look for an email saying Marsh:Order Confirmation. This will include the link.

An All-Access Festival pass, which includes live shows and archived recordings, is $25. (Day passes do not include the archive of recorded shows.)

Recordings of the shows will be posted to Youtube April 1st and available until April 15th.

To be performing “B-Side Man” again means even more than when I first performed it. I performed at THE TANK in New York City and also performed for the Baltimore Fringe Festival. Two very different experiences and audiences. But “B-Side” seemed to “take” with both crowds. It’s ALOT to digest and emotionally it’s all over the place, spanning alot of my own growth (and wherever I was before growth) in my life and career. Having said that, I laugh ever single time I rehearse it.

More to come my friends…….

“The Gratitude Monologues” with All Souls Church, NYC

Fresh off the “Grace Project” I’m up again with “The Gratitude Monologues,” part of an initiative with All Souls Church in New York. Needless to say I’m excited to participate. The monlologues and musical performances run for 6 weeks and I’ll be reading mine, “Baltimore Bound,” on July 27th. The event starts at 10:00am.

The monologues are 10 minutes or less, and “Baltimore Bound” is something I created several years back. Never thinking it would fit a particular theme. But lo and behold….it fits! Many thanks to Leslie Corn (my favorite Genealogical Forensics person) for reaching out. She’d heard me read an excerpt of “B-Side Man,” on one of Roland Tec’s monologue events. Looking over Leslie’s background it illustrates that RIGHT NOW folks are making deeper dives into the world of connections, connections on a very organic level. I think “Grace” and “Gratitude” are perfect examples of this. They explore what makes us human and what brings us together. Though the monologues and performances are all very different, the chords they strike will ring true with all of us.

The role of a “playwright” — certainly the one I grew up with — has expanded exponentially. And over the course of my career writing opportunities are no longer limited to which theatre or artistic director deems you suitable for a production. If you’re willing to create from a more expansive place, then you may find an audience that appreciates more than your purely dramatic efforts. If you can speak to the humanity that everyone wants to feel part of, you may be “discovered” by people who’re seeking observations that open up our senses, and allow us to reflect on our spirituality.

Here’s some more info about the All Souls event.

Grace

The “Grace” project is now officially underway. I’ve got on a BIG smiley face. I’m so proud and humbled to be part of this effort. It’s been created and launched by Peter Bruun, who I worked with on the New Day Campaign several years back. New Day was an incredible experience. From October 1-December 31, 2015, over 92 days, the New Day Campaign presented 16 art exhibitions and 63 free public events, and conducted a community outreach campaign in the Baltimore region that opened hearts, changed thinking and conversations, and offered pathways to action. To be a participant and a witness to the power of New Day was for me, beyond vocabulary.

And here we are again with Grace. A journey that takes you on an interior ride with six artists. We all choose different vehicles for the trip. My Grace efforts start right here. And if you’d like to register for a “speaking about Grace” event — you can do so now.

Special thanks to Holly Morse-Ellington for her exquisite storytelling and narration, and Julie Golonka for all her help with editing. I mentioned in a Zoom discussion that when you mention the word “Grace” in conversation now, because of what we faced during the last year, it feels as if folks just naturally bow their heads. As if no more words need be said. That pretty much sums up where I feel we are, collectively.

So let’s raise an imaginary champagne toast to a new project that arrives with so much heart and soul.

Zooming Into Summer

New Projects On The Way — “Gratitude Monologues” and “Grace”

Hello From the Bright Side!

Aside from Cedric Mullins, centerfielder for the Baltimore Orioles who seems to make great highlights every/single/day — I think this summer is working the same magic for your humble playwright.

I was recently invited to participate in the Gratitude Monologues, a Zoom event with All Souls Unitarian Church in NYC. Performances will be one hour a week in July and August, and will have monologues and songs. “Gratitude” will be the theme and the monologues and songs will serve as the catalyst to help attendees explore their own lives, dreams, loves, longing and feelings of separation or despair. Here’s a sample of All Souls performing “Shenandoah“.

There’s no cost and people from around the world will be attending. After the performances, there will be a conversation with the writers, composers, and actors. The audience will be encouraged to talk about what the monologues or songs bring up for them, in their own lives. Not the usual post performance audience talk back, by any stretch.

I’m excited to be invited — someone heard me reading an excerpt from “B-Side Man” back in December for Roland Tec’s Some1Speaking Monologue event, and thought I’d be a good fit for “Gratitude”. You never know what the small ripple in the pond will touch.

I’ll provide more info when it becomes available.

In the same vein, I’m also a contributor for Peter Bruun’s online exhibition of “Grace” that kicks off June 24th.

Click the link and scroll down you’ll see the list of the six artists, along with yours truly. I’m equally excited to contribute to Grace. My contribution is something in the multi-media vein. I’ll keep it a surprise till things kick off. But, I think it works. Both projects are tapping into the vein of where I believe we all are right. Coming out of 2020, I can’t think of better themes than Gratitude and Grace. Can you?

Good News from Tennessee Williams Literary Festival!

Well now. Doesn’t this feel just fine n’ dandy. I’m smiling ear to ear. Turns out “Exposed To Strangers” came across the finish line like a pro.

Here (below) I’m listed as a finalist. Now you know and I know that being a finalist is very, very “nice”. In the nicest sense of the word.

However, as I continued to discover — here I am listed with distinction (bold print my own 🙂 as the 3rd place winner. HOLY WHOOP-DE-DO! Stop the Apolcaypse! There I am in black and white.

Winner: “Fourteen”by Amy Crider, Chicago, IL
2nd Place: “This Imperfect Vessel”by Josh Baxt, La Mesa, CA
3rd Place: “Exposed to Strangers” by Alonzo Lamont, Baltimore, MD.

If there wasn’t no gosh-darn “dam-denic” I’d be headed down to the bayou in March. But will take a Zoom Festival with all the trimmings, thank you very much. What an inspiring start to 2021. And with my latest play that’s fresh as the driven snow, barely outta my computer bake shop. Alls it had was a reading at my friends Holly and Jason’s house a while back (Holly Morse-Ellington and Jason Tinney are now kick-ass Theater Faculty at McCallie School down in Chattanooga) —

— but other than that reading, that’s about it.

Since July I of 2020 I will have had three Zoom readings from three separate organizations. The Dominion Arts Foundation in Atlanta did a reading of “That Serious He-Man Ball,” Some1Speaking chose “B-Side Man,” and now the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival chose “Exposed”.

Maybe I’m onna roll. How grand is that? I don’t have any existential expressions regarding the playwriting life. Like everything else in life, it’s a daily grind. There’s always levels of acceptance, and in most cases, the acceptance levels are downright invisible. You just have to know that what you write is either that good, or that special or that different. And that may seem woefully obvious to you, but to someone reading your stuff it could be completely lost in translation.

It’s good when people get it, and it’s you they’re getting.