‘Put Ur Play On’ Productions Showcases Local Talent at Laney College
By Carla Thomas
On Saturday, Feb. 26 at the Laney College Odell Johnson Theater, the Third Annual Black Centric Showcase celebrated Black History Month. The show depicted eras of Black history, while featuring talent showcases of monologues, skits, dance, rap and singing expressing the past, present and future.
“The showcase was designed to feature talented members of the community performing all eras of Black history: Where we are from, where we have been, and where are we going,” said Saleemah Jones, production company founder-producer of “Put Ur Play On” with assistant director Angel Galloway.
Pamela Terry performed a monologue spun from August Wilson’s “Fences.” Terry responded to a casting call ad for the role. “Through my audition I learned about the production company, Saleemah Jones, and assistant director, Angel Galloway,” said Terry. “These two sisters are brilliant in their work to improve the quality of life in the community.” She said the experience was both inspiring and challenging.
AKIL of Oakland performed his original song “Gave Us 28,” referring to the number of days in February for Black History Month. “I like to produce positive rap,” said AKIL. “They gave us 28 but every day we make history.”
Other performances featured an original skit on love by Lauren Black and Erynne-Dnae of Cotati, California, and a poem by Oakland middle-schooler Talia Rochelle entitled “Go to the Back, Rosa Parks.” “Rosa Parks is an important, strong, brave woman in Black history,” she said.
Paris Jackson Jr. performed an original dance.
Gary Moore of San Francisco performed a monologue from August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Shelly Broadnax performed an original poem entitled “MIBPOC,” about having to check the ‘other’ box when filling out surveys and applications.
IMAC FADICHI of Chicago performed an original rap, “The Good Show,” and Pierre Jones of Richmond performed an original monologue entitled, “Black Caesar.”
The second half of the show included the stage production “Unapologetically Black: Here to Facilitate Harm Reduction Services for Those in Need, Inc.,” written by Itoro Bassey, a Nigerian playwright.
“Itoro reached out to us, and we thought it was a great way to put this perspective on our platform to raise voices,” said Jones, play producer.
The production, satiric in nature, explored the seriousness of Black and white race relations including white privilege and white insensitivity toward African Americans in everyday situations.
In one scene a white male doctor talks to a Black female patient in a dismissive manner. At the height of their disagreement, the two actors are frozen in time. A third actor enters, “Dr. Find You an Ally,” performed by Anthony Dixon, who narrates the situation and offers to serve as a white ally for the Black woman for 24 hours at the price of $59.99.
The actors unfreeze and the Black woman joins the narrator, as he explains his services including a bootcamp provided to retrain white perpetrators and transform their behavior into one of respect, understanding and empathy toward Black people.
Actors in the production included Tyler Mae, David Cesari, Shayna Howlett, Toni Rochelle, Ziare Whitelow, Christina Gluszaczak, Harley Ford and Cody Johnson.
“It’s been great to combine a showcase featuring some of the best in Bay Area talent with a stage play production written by a Nigerian sister,” said Jones. “The month may have 28 days, but we are 365 days a year, 24-7 making history,” said Galloway.
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