Meet Angelina Grimke: An AAPEX Interview with Tosha Thompson — AAPEX Interview , Angelina Grimke , Michael Dinwiddie , Tosha Thompson — AAPEX

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Meet Angelina Grimke: An AAPEX Interview with Tosha Thompson

Tosha Thompson
Actually it's actress Tosha Thompson, who will be portraying America's first African American woman playwright, Angelina Weld Grimke - not to be confused with her great aunt, abolitionist Angelina Grimke Weld - in our Juneteenth reading of THE CARELESSNESS OF LOVE by Michael Dinwiddie at The Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, Wednesday, June 19th, 6:30 pm. It's free. Rehearsal space courtesy of Out Central - 

Here's more about our leading lady in her own words: 

1. What role did theatre and the arts play in your childhood upbringing? 
It played a huge role, even though I didn’t realize it until much later. Performance and the Arts was something that I always did or was asked to do. I didn’t realize it was the silent, patient friend in my life that was always there for me, never getting it’s proper due until much later; when I was bold enough to say, “this is not just a hobby, this is my career. This is not an optional part of my life, but a very necessary part of my life. Indeed, it is part of my purpose for being here and a huge component of the passion that helps me truly live. It all started in my community’s little country church when I was growing up. It comforted me when I was afraid, kept me company when I was lonely, celebrated with me during my victories and challenged me so that I would never become complacent. I smile just thinking about those early years. Yes, the theatre and the arts have been a patient friend, one that I will never neglect again. 

2. Tell us about your evolution as an artist. 
Well I can tell you it is ongoing! I never feel that I have evolved enough. I never really feel like I know what I’m doing. I just try to be as authentic as possible when I am communicating. Perhaps that is one thing. I realize now that actors are communicators. It doesn’t sound as glamorous, but it’s a better description of what we do. We take dialogue and communicate as effectively as we can our character’s life story through our actions, our intonations, our clothing, even our silence. We should never catch ourselves (nor let anyone else catch us) “acting” up there. Authenticity matters. 

3. How are you preparing for the role of Angelina Grimke? 
From what I’ve read, Angelina Grimke was a phenomenal woman during a time that being phenomenal was the last word that one would use to describe a woman. She was opinionated and outspoken. She was passionate, curious and creative. She lived during a time when she would be scorned for most of her positive attributes that we would so freely celebrate in her today, because she was a woman. There was always a battle Angelina had to fight just to live an authentic life during those times. Everyone can identify with struggle, oppression of some sorts, and denial of those things that make life seem nearly unbearable without them. Life is full of conflict and without conflict you have no real dramatic story. See where I’m going… 

4. Tell us about your work with the NAACP and about the mission of the organization in the 21st century. 
When I was first approached by the genius of Jaz (Dorsey), I couldn’t believe the timing of everything that was about to happen. At the time of our first meeting, we were working together on another project and I had also recently joined the NAACP as the PR/Media Chair. We struck up a conversation. He found out my association with the NAACP and by the end of the conversation we both knew that this play had to be done! It had to be done because the story’s central character is the daughter of one of the founders of the NAACP. Unbelievable! The NAACP is really putting its focus back on the community and what the community feels is important. We just wrapped up Environmental Justice Earth Day. We had an impressive panel, which included our chapter president, Dr. John Arradondo speaking on the disparities of low income neighborhoods and disproportionate amounts of landfill placement and unhealthy living conditions. We pursue any injustice in our communities and welcome any suggestions at any time regarding issues or policies that need our attention. Please know that there is always an open door at our office for any concerns. I think our mission statement sums it up best: The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination. To reiterate: we are passionate about the rights of all disenfranchised or marginalized people.

Angelina Grimke is the daughter of one of the founders of the NAACP, Archibald Grimke (attorney and Harvard graduate). Angelina Grimke is a poet, a playwright and an outspoken individual during a time when women were not encouraged to be any of those things. She was the first African American female to have a play produced then publicly performed. This work has been noted as a precursor to the Harlem Renaissance. 

Filled with historical references and strong characters, we see a well woven tapestry of the struggles and joys of that era. We see Archibald's frustrations with W. E. B Du Bois, and we get to observe Angelina's struggle with finding her own way and living the life of her dreams. The only problem is, that life is strictly forbidden. Angelina has held a secret from her father and the rest of the world her entire life. For this reason, she considers leaving the only man she's ever loved since her mother abandoned her as a young girl. What is this secret? Will she leave or stay to keep the family honor? You MUST come and see for yourself! Don't miss the chance to see this free, intimate presentation before this play goes into full production! The play will be held in the 
Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center at Vanderbilt University
Wednesday, June 19th at 6:30 PM

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