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Author Archives: zulufits

About zulufits

Published and Produced Playwright. Born n’ Raised in Baltimore. Plays produced in Chicago, Amsterdam, D.C., Houston and Atlanta. Love to Bike and look to the sky for UFO’s. Love searching for a damn good Bakery. Write plays to change me, and the world. Love when my plays GET produced. Love going places where my plays ARE produced Head inna book, mind onna Movie. Love being a Playwright. Love writing plays.

New Play Updates: “Masters Of Spin” and “A Momentary Lapse of Comedy” & Ray Charles

I’ve been off enjoying summer and biking and all the good stuff that comes with sunny days. But I’ve also completed two plays that I started and worked on many, many moons ago. Masters of Spin is based on an incident that happened at Morgan State University back in 2001. I kept a newspaper clipping or two because I thought it’d be a fascinating event to dramatize. Essentially, it shows what happens when a black public relations firm gets accused of discrimination by a historically black university? I try to make arguments for and against what the firm tried to do, and I attempted to be a fly on the wall inside the PR firm. I see it as a very intimate story, and imagine how it may have all played out on a personal and social level. I think the smaller cast allows for a far more individual perspective, and hopefully an audience can “dive” into the issues by connecting with the characters instead of just the headlines. The essence of the play revolves around issues with black hair. This is no small issue, since black hair is such a humongous business. There are proponents of natural hairstyles, and there are those who have no problem with all varieties of hairstyles, fake or otherwise. If it had been a white PR firm, the drama would be much more stereotypical, and there’d be no controversy. But, things take a different tone when it’s your own people. You recognize the reflection in the mirror, and — surprise — it’s you.

It’s a four character, full-length play that turns things a bit topsy-turvy. It also looks at developments that an African-American public relations firm might have on their plate. Some of which are real events, others I invented, but I think that ultimately, nothing presented is THAT far from real life. We rarely get to see the backstage machinations behind local news stories, that are full of so many machiavellian twists and turns. Would any of us be surprised to see what a Royal Scam things actually are? My guess is “nyet”. The royal scam

 

 

 

 

A Momentary Lapse Of Comedy” started off in one direction, but has been through a complete overhaul. I’ve always loved the idea of people stuck on a plane, who have to come grips with something hard and real about themselves. Well, in this case a “closet” comedian went and performed at a comedy club but didn’t inform his wife about it. No biggie, you say? Ahhhhh, but what if it was indeed a biggie? And what if the comedian’s two other friends knew about it, but didn’t tell the wiffee. And what the other friends are close friends who are now stuck on a plane when all this “comedic” news breaks? There they are: the wife, her comedian husband and the other couple who knew. As domestic-in-nature as this situation may appear, there’s another story going on. The comedian’s friend, who pushed him into the performance, has another motive — he also fancies himself a performer and the play actually takes a dramatic turn centered around this motive. There’s an “ugly something” that enters the world of this play, and I think it escalates the level of “relationship,” to another plateau. What if your supposed BFF had certain beliefs that filled you with disgust. You’ve known them for many years, and never knew that this THING was living inside of them? Would they still be your friend? Could you overlook? Accept? We make these choices in real life all the time. Mentally, sometimes we clean house and some people don’t make the final cut. Maybe they’ve been there for us in a thousand ways. But now that a door to a new room opens, do we walk forward or walk away?

These plays are in my PLAYS BY ALONZO area. I intend to load a bunch more.


Next week, September 13th, Waxter Wisdom will be doing a profile I wrote about a month ago. I’m thrilled it’s finally coming about. In reading about Ray’s life, it was soooo much more complex than I knew about. D’uh.
ray charles

Even though the movie does do him justice, imagining a blind, black man making his way as a musician is almost an unfathomable situation. But, if you know a little black history, you know that we’ve always walked in the footprints of trailblazing folks. And Ray didn’t just “make it,” he imparted such a grand style. He had so many hits, so many signature songs and took a very genuine leap into country music. I sit here at this moment and still marvel at the breath and scope of his impact. In writing these profiles I’m continually blown away at the magnitude of genius African-Americans have contributed to the world. If you’ve ever seen a picture (or film) of Dorothy Dandridge, Ray, Oscar Micheaux, Little Richard, Eartha Kitt —

eartha kitt

— (Eartha, above) you’ll be struck by the appearance of someone who knew how special they were, and how special THEY thought they were. And they were dead on the money in knowing that.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2017 in Places in B'Mo I Go

 

Biking for MS

I’ve done the ride for Multiple Sclerosis for about 7 years now. And doing it this past June was just as awesome as doing it for the first time. So this year, as with a couple others, I rode my bike friday…

Me Wo Cool

Here I am at the start. Do you see the (snarky!?!?!) looks from the other team. They’re all thinking what others have thought when I show up with my little bike. “How’s he gonna ride 100 miles on that bike?” Well, ride it I did and as my memory recalls, I finished ahead of that other team in orange. It’s not a race, mind you. But why do folks think they have to get into spandex and racing mode. I’ve ridden my lil bikefriday on many, many organized rides and folks are still amazed when they see me out there all day with them. But I felt fabulous when I returned. I finished strong, and was no worse for wear. I have to say that my little bike is a gamer. I started at 7:00 and finished at 3:45. AND we had to take a ferry crossing which took away about 30 minutes of ride time.

I believe this pic says so much more about me than it does about riding. Rugged individualist. Lone Wolf. In the crowd, but not quite apart of it. You don’t need all that jaz to ride a bike. I understand the allure of it all, and I understand wanting to “belong” to your pack. And yet, there I am……flaunting my off-centerness. My just-riding-my-ride. My own damn my pack.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2017 in Places in B'Mo I Go

 

Judging “Poetry Out Loud” and Alvin Ailey at Waxter

Been a pretty busy spring and as things move into summer, I’m feeling reflective AGAIN. Well, it IS the Life of Alonzo, and as most bloggers go, I’m also living in a reflective state 24/7….

Poetry Out Loud

As a Playwright, you quickly learn that you can’t just sit home writing plays all the goddamn time. Nooooooo, that model is not workable. What you need to do is get yourself out there and offer whatever gifts you have to people and places that would benefit from such an offering. Would it KILL YOU to network a tee tad? Nooooooo, it would not. So here be Alonzo right before the start of the Northwest Maryland Poetry Out Loud finals. Next to me is Gerard LaFemina (“Gerry,” to friends, Director of the Frostburg Center for Creative Writing, and good buddy. A few years back, one of my plays “Monifa’s Kiss” had a reading at Frostburg, that’s when I met Gerry. I’ve been a judge for “Poetry Out Loud”  the last two years and each time the poets (they read published poems, not their own) get more and more and more excellent. It’s a delight to sit and inhale their passion and expertise. That’s no lie, friends. They are on-point and take their tasks very seriously.

Next up (above) the Waxter Center performed “Alvin Ailey,” (written by yours truly) about a week or so ago and I was proud as punch of the job they did. That’s “Alvin,” on the left, the choreography for the piece was out of this world!!!) and afterwards I was invited onstage for a quick Q&A. As I’ve said before, this is such a rewarding experience. The seniors and visitors get a genuine treat because the writers, directors and actors PUT ON A SHOW. You’d think this was off-broadway, because everyone pulls out their  “A game,” for these performances. Tyrone Requer oversees “Waxter Wisdom,” and his daughter Dawn directed Alvin. Alonzo just throws out da script. Happy I wasn’t in the same outfit for each event…..

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Places in B'Mo I Go

 

Winning a Hermes Award

At the medical library I work at, I wear several hats. One of them is making short promotional videos. Last week one of the videos I directed one a Hermes Award.

HERMES AWARD 3   The Hermes recognize new media, old media, public relations, communications and social media. My team won a gold! I was exceptionally proud of this since, with the help of Phillip Elgie Media, the video was made for $1,500.

phillip elgie media

 

Many of the videos that won are well north of $10,000, and some pretty big name companies are attached to them. We won in the educational category. I put lots and lots of time and energy into making this with Phillip. We had a story that we felt those outside of academic, or the medical sphere, would appreciate and understand. So we made sure all the “little touches” were as spot-on as we could get ’em. If you like to take a look, here it is.

I never took film or video, but just like plays, I know what I like. I thought that our little “play’ would hit someone’s nerve in terms of leaving a lasting impression. I may or may not wind up making another video for the medical library. But knowing I could make this and have it be well-received is……noteworthy.

Welch Library Resources Image

Whenever my instincts are found to be on the money, then that’s vindication in so many ways. As anyone who’s offered ANYTHING out into the vast universe that we call creative arts will attest, the feeling of winning is always sweetest when you think (rightly or wrongly) that the world plots against you. Or, feeling as though you’re rolling that sisyphus-ian boulder up the &%$@** dang hill.

So, let me announce…..a victory has been won. Let the drinks flow freely to all the assembled masses.

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2017 in Places in B'Mo I Go

 

Reading Aloud in Starbucks

I recently contributed a post to Ann Bracken’s blog. I met Ann working with the New Day Campaign. That was several years ago, and we’ve kept in touch. Her writing comes from a very interior place, and Ann has born witness to particular kinds of darkness that she’s transferred into a writing voice with insight after insight. As we collaborated on our New Day event, I was left with chills when I heard her reading excerpts from her work.

Ann let me choose the subject and this led to “Reading Aloud in Starbucks.”

Ann's Blog It’s a light-hearted piece about stumbling across something we rarely see or experience. And it happens to take place in one of our “new shrines to privacy.” I’m continually amazed that folks scream about their privacy, but choose to work in the most public arenas. Conducting the most personal business.

I’m proud to have Ann share my little literary ditty.

 

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2017 in Places in B'Mo I Go

 

Looking Back As Birthday Approaches

My birthday isn’t till March, but I start feeling it’s “pull” right around now. I try and celebrate more than just a day, I subscribe to the “why just a BirthDAY? You deserve all the birthDAYS you can get, am I right” theory. Anyway, I decided to peruse “Alonzo’s Archives,” this morning and came away — impressed! How about that! Yes, that I was.

As I look back I realize just how much went into all my “little victories.” Each one didn’t make the ocean rise, or the earth move under my feet (vintage Carole King), but it did produce a joyful noise. From getting published, to reviews that soar (honestly I look for bad ones but can’t find them — except from the 1986 NYT review of “He-Man Ball” which seems to show up 1st or 2nd no matter WHAT I do), to acknowledgements that sneak up on me…

kind-words

And sneak up they do. This year the Charm City Fringe Festival didn’t seem to have much PR in their corner, but there was a preview night that got some notice. And I showed up there also…

It’s been a long, winding road that has made me smile. And with my Birthday just around the bend, it brings a perspective that I annually arrive at this time of year.

When you’re arrive at a theater, one of the first things you do is open your program and look over the blurbs for the playwright, actor and director. Many times, they’re particularly lofty. They all seem to have re-invented the entire world of theater. But regardless of how many highlights we all have, when it comes down to it we’re all in the same pot. Seeking that distinctive event, or achievement that awards your name and your deeds that elusive CROWN. So we’re all in the same chase. We all have our glossary of moments from everywhere. Some win more grants, some perform before bigger audiences and some are transported into the realm of TV or movies. When we’re introduced to folks we tend to rattle off a slew of the biggest and grandest notches on our belt. Because otherwise………………..how would anyone recognize our uniqueness?

I wanted to start a blog for myself. Anyone who comes along and read it, that “gravy”. I just wanted some kind of chronicle. Some kind of witness. So what there may come a day like this morning when I can glance through and ask “how would anyone recognize my uniqueness?” And if the question just stays out there, just hangs in the moment, then I can at least answer, “well, I damn sure do.” And just like that, my ego is back up on that pedestal, right where it belongs.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2017 in Places in B'Mo I Go

 

Waxter Wisdom Series Is Coming ‘Round The Bend — Again!

Happy and thrilled to once again be writing for the Waxter Wisdom series in 2017. I’ll be contributing scripts for Nina Simone and Ray Charles. Heavy hitters. Again, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s a privilege to be writing these scripts (Waxter performances are usually 45-50 minutes), that are performed at the Waxter Center here in B’Mo and the audiences are spectacularly appreciative.

waxter-wisdom-2017

The series has really grown and that’s mostly the result of my good theater buddy and budding theatrical impressario, Tyrone Requer, getting the series “out there.” He’s worked like a demon to move this forward and here we are in year 3! There’s always a Q&A after the performance and in many instances, the audience knows as much as the writer or actors! They’ll throw facts back at you about the luminaries they’ve just seen onstage. And the performances are all coordinated with caregiver assistance programs at the Waxter. Folks are brought in from a variety of places and they get a first-rate show. This isn’t PR, this is the truth, the actors most especially are just so DAMN good. Things can be noisy, the audience can (at times) be in transit, but nothing matters. Once things start, you can see how everyone, writer, director and actor have gone to another level. That’s the best way I can say it. Nobody gets rich, but everyone gets proud…..

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2017 in Places in B'Mo I Go

 
 
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