The class is being taught by yours truly.
The class is being taught by yours truly.
The Holidays are here and December (shopping) madness is in full swing. Though I love Christmas with a passion, I’m most excited about what’s coming round the corner in 2019. I was once again asked to be a judge for Maryland’s Poetry Out Loud Competition.
(Pictured: Cayla Turner, Maryland Poetry Out Loud State Champion — photo by Edwin Remsberg)
In the past, I’ve had an outstanding time being a judge for the competition. The poems and the participants really, really grab you in the moment. I can’t say enough about the experiences I’ve had in the past. The poems all come from the classic tradition, but it’s how they’re delivered that makes them become, as they say, “re-imagined”.
I’ve also finalized the Veteran’s Storytelling Workshop, but it looks like I’ll be having my “classroom” at the Institute for Integrative Health”.
Nicole and I will also be participating in the “Love Letters Project” February 13th, at the Maryland Art Place. Here’s a description of the event:
Cupid’s Arrow, taking place on the eve of Valentine’s Day, indulges in romantic love: Nicole and Alonzo Lamont with a tale of stolen moments blooming into a marriage; cabaret performer Betsey Hobelmann honoring 18 years of marriage with a song; husband, father, scholar-activist, storyteller and drummer David Fakunle praising his love; and more. The event includes audience members sharing their own testimonials of Valentine’s love, accompanied by jazz vocalist Simone Speed, who offers song throughout the evening. A moment is given over to Ken Royster, whose photograph of a young couple included in the exhibition perfectly invokes the theme of romance.
We’ll be describing, reading and performing excerpts from the very FIRST love letters we wrote to each other. And performing a small section from “B-Side Man” that recalls our very first meeting. WHO KNEW! Twenty one years later, WHO KNEW all this would be, in the words of Carly Simon, “coming around again”.
There could be more on the way, but I don’t wanna jinx it. I’ll take these for now.
Two great buddies o’ mine, Holly Morse-Ellington and Jason Tinney have several new sites involving podcasts, music and storytelling. I’ve known Holly and Jason for several years, but got to work with them this summer, I directed Holly’s one-act play “Free To Go” at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre.
Well, they run the full creativity gamut. Here’s their Bandcamp site for their DEBUT album…
Storyproof provides a more in depth look at the full-range of their passions.
We’ve made plans to collaborate on various projects, but for now they’re getting all their ducks in a row. From the moment we met, I thought they were the cat’s pajamas. They provided me with feedback for “B-Side Man,” and in my book I count them both as aces. I rarely meet folks who I pretty quickly gravitate towards. You can go through alot of false starts (and steps) finding the genuine article. But enough from me. When you get a moment jump in with both feet — and go check out both their sites.
It’s been an artistic summer so far, directing Holly Morse-Ellington’s “Free To Go” in NYC (featured actors: Holly and Jason Tinney), and now “B-Side Man” was just this minute published in Eclectica magazine. (click on the book) Eclectica, started way back in 1996 is one of the oldest — and still surviving –— online ‘zines. And they published the whole dang play. Not an excerpt, the whole dang play! I love how they gave us a tease about content, and while it’s all minimalist to the bone, they definitely captured the overall essence and flavor of the playwright and the play.
I’m particularly thrilled about the “Contributors’ Notes” As you scroll down, you’ll see that they didn’t skimp on putting in the whole kit’n kaboodle about Alonzo. Yes, I wrote it, but did I think it would ALL make the final cut? Needless to say, I’m happy it did. As always, I feel as though there could be more “B-Side” opportunities on the near horizon, since it’s such a tight little nugget of drama & literature.
And look for future collaborations between Alonzo, Jason and Holly, they’re the equally eclectic duo who form “Limestone Connection.” They write plays, prose, essays, work the storytelling gumbo pot and it all comes together under a great big “southern gothic/e” blues & folk umbrella of many colors.
So hooray for good news in the summer. Moving forward, the forecast is sunny. Let fall and winter artistic news be the chewy gristle of a cheap steak, summer should feel like brand new duds splashing down the boulevard. We all yearn to be in full regalia in summertime.
Starting in September I’m happy to say that I’ll be working with veterans once again. I’ll be teaching a storytelling workshop at the Reginald Lewis Museum right here in downtown Baltimore.
I was contacted by JW Rone, Director of Veterans’ Initiatives at The Institute For Integrative Health, who asked if I was interested. I had reached out to the Veterans Initiatives months ago, just to offer my services.
Well, out of the blue an opportunity arose that seems right up my alley. The workshop will run from Sept. to March, hopefully it’ll culminate with a performance. Whether that’s a reading, or an actual on-it’s-feet storytelling event, much like The Telling Project — either way seems exciting to me. I think I have something to offer, regardless of format. And I plan on bringing my “A game” to the experience. I’ve mentioned a zillion times what an organic and thoroughly transformative process it was working with “Telling,” and I wanted that experience to continue. Lucky for me, it has. It seems that my lot in life is to discover ways that I can fully utilize whatever writing and directing skills that I have. And the outlets that I’ve found are always “soulful” in nature. If I have any legacy outside of writing my own plays, it’s that I was fortunate enough to allow others to find their own voice, and realize the power behind their own words and deeds.
Carving out a career in Playwriting can be damn sobering and, at times, soul-crushing. Hey you could throw in a full liter of “depressing” too! But you can’t let the amount of productions, publicity (or lack thereof) or recognition define what you do, or who you are. For me, sharing has been a wonderful antidote to all the missing elements that a life in the theatre can bring.
The July edition of literary arts ‘Zine Eclectica Magazine will have none other than Alonzo LaMont’s “B-Side Man”. I don’t know if they’ve published plays before, so if I’m breaking new ground — it make perfect sense. Since I think the play is pretty, “groundbreaking.” I’ve been seeking opportunities for “B-Side” to be recognized outside the world of theatre. I think there’s a world of alternative performance, audio or yes, literary avenues to discover & I feel there’s a home for “B-Side” among a few of those places. So first came Soundcloud and now I’m officially in the literary arts “scene.” I feel my inner hipster shining through!
I’m through the roof thrilled to be included, and I hope everyone appreciates the honesty and style of the play. The more I hear the language and events that it details, the more I’m convinced that the play is more than just my evolution, or my life. Nothing would surprise me about where “B-Side” ultimately lands. Basically it was a three year project to fine-tune and tailor it, to realize what an inspired direction it should take and most importantly how my voice should sound. I worked on it constantly, and finally crafted what I think is an epic journey. Can’t wait to see it online.
I was lucky enough to make a recording of “B-Side Man,” special thanks to my extraordinary engineer Dominic Delauney, that’s now on Soundcloud.
Have a listen and hear all the “juicy” details surrounding how Alonzo became Alonzo! I think it captures the play even more than performing the play did. I’m hoping to discover a creative outlet that deals with storytelling, or vice-versa. We’ll see how that goes. It’s springtime and hope always springs eternal. Happy listening!
This morning, wiffee Nicole came up with this delicious concoction for breakfast.
And yes, that’s the chessboard I play (with myself) on most every day. That’ sliced avocado, soft boiled egg, sliced asparagus and chives sittin on top of it all. A small “schooch” of tabasco completes the ensemble. And it tastes as great as it looks. The actual star of the show are the chives. They add a certain scent, and play well with everybody. The aspargus are the thinner ones, and the crunch they provide highlights the softness of the avocado. Boy, she whipped this up in no time, and I just wanted to look, no touch, for a second. And then I wolfed it down. Eggs and asparagus make fine paleo companions. I’ve seen them made together, but the eggs are over easy. No matter how you make ’em they’ll fit. Wiffee made this in about 10 minutes or less. Can’t wait for this to be on the menu again.
Yes, I was asked to direct a short play, “Free To Go” by Holly Morse-Ellington and Jason Tinney. Their play will be part of an evening of 3 or 4 other short plays. Holly and Jason are multi-talented folks who play incredible music and perform their own dramatic work (though they’re not opposed to others performing it). We met when Jason and I were both judges for Maryland’s “Poetry Out Loud,” and we just sort of clicked. They helped me when I was rehearsing “B-Side Man” for the NYC performance, and they came to the show. Very true-blue of them, I’d say. I’d say their musical style was American “roots,” and their theatrical proclivities were very erotic and personal. How’s that for an artistic cocktail?!
Performances are scheduled for May 4th and 5th at the Manhattan Rep as part of their Playwright’s Showcase. I’ll be up there for final dress & tech rehearsal and will stay for the performance.
The play is awful damn powerful, and deals with a pretty intense “taboo” situation. So obviously — it’s right the frick up my alley. I’ve known Holly and Jason for a while, but I’m thrilled they asked me to direct. It’s nice to be considered for anything, and as I tell folks, AS I ALWAYS TELL FOLKS: anytime you get to do what you’re passionate about, it’s always a privilege. I’m not the first to say that, and won’t be the last.
I’ve found that the free-lance opportunities I’ve had run right in sync with this philosophy. From directing “The Telling Project” at Hopkins and Center Stage to working with GADO Images and the Afro-American newspaper for “East Side Story,” these are stories and storytelling ventures that I’m enormously proud to have collaborated on. Though vastly different projects, and I like to feel that they came to life and spoke to audiences on a very interior level. I don’t wanna sound like an artsy-fart, Heaven Forbid!!! But as I look back over what brings me joy, and what brings audiences joy, I think it was all part of this “genuine article” of writing and directing that I felt offered some kind of reaching out, some kind of engagement. That’s how I be rolling, my friends.
As much as I’m all for “mental well-being,” for me it starts in the physical realm. If I can’t go outside and play in some way, shape or fashion — then I’m not well at all. That’s a fact. As much as we’re all locked into one internal conundrum after another, more and more I find that the physical world holds the keys to my own well-being kingdom. So to this end, I’m promoting (and doing!!!) the annual Tour ‘Dem Parks bike ride.
Though I missed last year, I’ve done this ride maybe 10 or 11 times and I always come away with a great sense of bike fellowship. Usually I end up talking to someone along the way who’s discovering Baltimore for the first time. Or, discovering the particular parks and scenery for the first time. Ride “Founders” (and good friends) Dwight and Anne have pulled this ride together since it’s inception. If you want to get an up-close-and-personal Baltimore vibe, I highly recommend a little two-wheeler time on June 10th.
NEW PLAY ALERT! Have you wondered about all the women who’re having sex with school kids? Around the country this phenomenon just won’t let up. Every other day we’re bombarded with new revelations about the latest school indiscretion. “Exposed To Strangers” investigates this salacious issue from a very personal perspective. I’ve taken a relationship between a student and his female teacher, a relationship that was quite famously documented a few years back, and entwined it around a total stranger, a male librarian from a different part of the country, becoming “pen pals” with the same (now incarcerated) female teacher. As I wrote the play, so many issues came to light. “Issues like what,” you say? The librarian is married. His wife discovers her husband’s pen pal “affair,” and what she brings to the table is a level of outrage and curiousity. At the same time, the teacher stays in touch with her student, and both wonder about their future together or apart. Yes, I hope it sparks a nerve. The morality index alone could be through the roof. We’ll see how the prospects of “Exposed To Strangers” play out. It’s one thing to have what you think is a great idea, it’s a whole ‘nuther thing for it to see the light of day. Do I think it’s a great play? Damn yippy-skippy I do. Why would I sit around writing anything less? D’uh!
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