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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

 

Clips & Full Performance Vid For “B-Side Man”

I’ve never felt more acutely aware of leaving one year behind, and moving into the next. I’m very proud of getting the play up and running. It still reverberates in me on a daily basis. What it said about me, about coming-of-age mentally and physically, about the loss of Charles and about the transcendence of moving forward as a person in a different category. It registers as an achievement, even though it hasn’t brought me a Pulitzer Prize, just yet. Never did I think I could learn 20-plus pages of script. It’s a daunting task. I spent countless moments going over lines, moments and transitions. I had to find my rhythm and be comfortable with it. It took me to awkward places. It took me to want to constantly revise. But finally, I had the script in the right place for me. Below, I’ve included a few excerpts from the play. And if you scroll alllllllll the way down, you can see the entire performance.

“I’m a B-Side Man”

Because of my very busy summer I’m setting sail away from the New Day Campaign.  I was an Advisory Board member, band even though New Day is positioned to become a non-profit force, I can’t commit to the time it takes. For 2017, my free time has to be first and foremost. Selfish? Who cares? It’s where I am right now. New Project? Can’t see it. New initiative? Still can’t see it. 

“College in Vermont”

No arts-related items are on my immediate calendar, and it’ll probably stay that way for a good while. If I just ride my bike and read a few new books, I’ll be as happy as Mary’s Little Lamb.

“Dancing in Iowa”

And finally, if you’re feeling inspired, below is the entire play. When I first viewed it I thought, well maybe someone younger would do a better job, but the more I watched the more I realized NOOOOOOO, I’m at the right age for this. I made a conscious choice not to add images or more props. I thought an audience would be willing to take a 60 minute journey with a “mature” african-american male, regardless of how open, sarcastic, painful and somewhat non-traditional that journey is.

Entire “B-Side Man” Performance

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2016 in Places in B'Mo I Go

 

Successful “B-Side”

“Life? She come and she go” Nobody famous said that, I just made it up. But, it applies to the last six months working on “B-Side Man”. And now, it’s over. The shows in NYC were wonderful, as were the performances with the Charm City Fringe Festival.

charm-city-fringe-festivalIt was hard work because it took me completely OUT of my normal life. Funny as that may seem. But I developed a commitment to learning the lines in my own rhythm, and having lines, action and sections of the play (it’s a 20 pg. monologue) work seamlessly. Of the four performances at the Stillpointe Theatre Saturday night was out of this world. Great audience, and I think I nailed it. At least a critic who saw the preview for “B-Side” was pleased. Not having acted in quite some time, it “took a minute” to re-establish what kind of presence I’d bring to the play, even though it was my own dang play! You ask yourself all kinds of questions, from “how do I look onstage,” to what positions, motions and tone are the best for the moment. But from June to November I was entirely INVESTED in the process. Frequently, running lines in my head right before falling asleep. I wouldn’t have traded this for anything in the world. As we mature, we absolutely NEED things that challenge us. Mentally and physically. When we respond, it reassures us that what we thought were mountains were really, molehills. I expect that sometime down the road I’ll be doing the play again. That little voice inside tells me so.

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Posted by on November 16, 2016 in Places in B'Mo I Go

 
 
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