Dec. 31, 2008
Happy New Year, everybody. My big Christmas present was getting the Internet back up at home, so I have the pleasure of filling everyone in on what a great year 2008 was for AAPEX and where that is taking us in 2009. Thanks to our incredible network of artists in New York City, AAPEX has presented so many reading there over the last year or so that I'm losing track! And thanks to our growing network of NYC supporters, most of those reading have played to SRO houses. I especially have to thank my pastor, Doug Sanders of Otter Creek Church, and playwright Merrill Jones of Washington D.C. for getting me to the city for the readings of HANNAH ELIAS (by Nathan Ross Freeman) and Merrill's stunning new family drama MRS. STREETER. I wish I could have been there for the March reading of Hershell Norwood's BILLIES BLUES but I am seriously proud to announce that ALL THREE OF THESE PLAYS ARE GETTING PRODUCITONS IN 2009! And Mike Oatman's crazy new comedy THE CHITTLIN THIEF is being reviewed for the upcoming season at a Chicago theater. Mike has had FOUR readings of THE CHITTLIN THIEF since October of 2207 - AAPEX readings in Washington, DC, New York & Nashville and one he put together himself in his home base, Cleveland, Ohio - land of Karamu.
As a direct result of the AAPEX reading at The Players Club, BILLIE'S BLUES came into the hands of director/producer T. Bankole. Bankole put the play up in this past summer's Downtown Urban Theater Festival and now BILLIE'S BLUES is scheduled to open in Brooklyn at Long Island University at the beginning of February, 2009. As a direct result of the AAPEX reading of HANNAH ELIAS and the support of our great friend, LilIanne Klien - who has gotten us in to The Players Club on more than one occasion - I have managed to pitch a June production to my colleagues here in Nashville at the historical Darkhorse Theater. This production will star legendary Nashville actress Helen "Olaketi" Shute Pettaway and inaugurate The Olaketi Ensemble - an acting ensemble which is being founded to present the works of AAPEX artists. We are looking forward to a possible reading of HANNAH ELIAS at the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center at Vanderbilt University in February or March of 2009 and are excited to welcome Dr. Frank Dobson, who runs the center, as part of of the AAPEX network. Concurrent with plans for the November AAPEX reading of MRS. STREETER, Merrill Jones advised me that there will be an 8 week run at the Berkeley Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley, California, opening in March. And Dee Spencer, who was in the reading and who works for Continental Airlines, is pitching Gregory Carr's one woman show GIMME WINGS to her employer and else where. This industrious young actress has landed an opportunity to perform Carr's one woman show about four African American aviatrixes - aka pilots - at the Black Cultural Center in Orange, New Jersey. It has to go up before January 30, because Gregory and Dee are looking to enter it in the Larry Hamlin Solo Performance Series in Winston Salem at the National Black Theater Festival this summer. To be perfectly honest, folks, we could use some donations on this one, and Hazel Joyner Smith, Executive Director of the International Black Film Festival of Nashville, is going to provide the non-profit umbrella so that any donation will be tax deductible. Contact me if you wouldn't mind throwing a few bucks our way so I can pay Passion. And Gregory. And Dee. And Corene, so we can have a qulity video to send to Winston Salem. Passion - what can I say about this amazing lady or the other directors who have given AAPEX so much momentum? Check out Passion's film DRAMA MAMAS at http://www.dramamamasthefilm.org/. Thanks to Thierry Saintine, who got BILLIE'S BLUES on it's feet, to Benard Cummings, who got us a reading of THE CHITTLIN THIEF at Stella Adler and to Ward Nixon for going the extra mile and for casting the fantastic Kimberly Munroe in the lead role. Congratulations to Karen Evans and The Black Women Playwrights' Group of Wasington, DC on their Chicago triumph. And to Hazel Joyner Smith and her daughters Ingrid and Ivy Brown for including a live stage performance as part of this year's film festival - and to Rev. Alvin Moore, the play's author, for successfully pitching it to a film studio ( more on that as it evolves), and to D.C. Copeland, another AAPEX writer who's getting some movie love when LaMont Caine of The Reserve Entertainment Group optioned his play ONCE UPON A TIME IN HARLEM for a 2010 production. And to 11 year old Mary Pat Hector in Atlanta, who's getting a tour of her play about dealing with child abuse - and who actually heard back from Oprah! Also coming in 2009: The Black Women's Stage Project: MADAM; THE C J WALKER MUSICAL by Adriana Rogers and Paul Johnson, starring Jewel Lucien as Madam C J Walker. WATERMELON SUSHI - the film by Yayoi Winfrey. Check it out at http://www.watermelonsushi.com/. Finally, we're proud to say as this year comes to an end, AAPEX has 94 African American Playwrights and 81 African American Theatres listed on our website which makes us the source for everything in African American Theatre!
So - wha's up in 2009? If it's anything like 2008, A LOT!
Please make sure we post what you're doing in 2009 - especially in February and March. And if anybody knows the name of Michelle Obama's press secratary, please pass it my way. I am looking forward to interviewing her for Wanda Clay's Tennessee Style Magazine.