Today was it. The last day of A Summer in Sanctuary at the Baltimore Theatre Project. What a journey. All day long I felt like I was living in a movie. Walking down the streets of Mt. Vernon in Baltimore, with my iPod blaring some melancholy music; passing the row houses on my last trip to the Theatre Project somehow it didn’t feel real.
I get this way at the end of a project. Nostalgic. Happy. Sad. Motivated. Tired. Today feels special though because I feel like I can finally look back and take the journey in. I’m not one for looking back too much. I think the important thing is too keep looking to the future and putting one foot in front of the other. But this feels like a good point to take a break and thank God for the blessings.
April of 07’ I entered this contest to be a radio host on NPR, I never thought much about it after I entered, until they called me and told me that I was one of the ten finalist. What a rush the entire contest was. A rush, but hard work. I killed myself, and everyone around me for 9 months until I was selected as one of three winners. One of three out of 1,400.
Radio was a happy happenchance, but also somewhat of a distraction to the work I needed to do on the theatre piece that was opening at the Theatre Project in February. The first solo show, I’d done in years. I was scared to death of the subject because of the first time I am truly reveling myself. Summer in Sanctuary is the story of one of the big challenges in my life. In writing it I knew I was exposing myself for the world to see, but it seemed more important to tell the story, then it did to protect myself. If I’m going to be honest here I have to admit that I was also scared to do a solo show. For the last three years, I’d been working with an incredible group of people, Larry Knight, David Girard and Barbara Colaciello. They are my family and I love every one of them, but the story I needed to tell was about me, and my journey. I had to tell it alone. Working with the four of them is such a welcome fit I was petrified to move away from that comfort zone.
Art though is not meant to be safe so I got a date for a premiere, strapped on my seatbelt and started my engine.
Here’s the hook. When I set the deadline I didn’t have NPR, and CPB telling me I needed to get a pilot for a radio show done. The Radio deadline was first, so I had to do it, with the help of Taki Telodonis, The Poemcees, Willie Evans Jr., Doug Mitchell, and a few other special people I was able to get the pilot done on time. When it was done I was drained. Emotionally spent. Ready to recharge. Oh… wait…. I have a play that’s due in three weeks. I didn’t think I could do it. My emotional instrument was empty. I put so much heart and soul into the radio show, I just didn’t think there was any left for “Sanctuary”.
For a full week I tried to write; pushing myself as much as I could and everything I came out with was hollow. Nothing rang true. I was scared. But too many people were depending on me. Summer in Sanctuary is the story of my time working at the Sanctuary on 8th Street a community center of sorts for underprivileged children. This is the hardest job I’ve ever had, and at the end of it I was a changed man. I had to tell the story for me, but more importantly I had to tell the story for the kids at the Sanctuary. So when I’m working on the show and nothing was coming I got scared cause I wanted to be able to give something back to them. I went to the Sanctuary to pick up a DVD from the executive director and my friend Vickie Watkins. I had an idea to put the movies from the DVD in the play but wasn’t sure how. When I watched that DVD, it just washed over me. The entire summer that at one point I tried hard to forget it was coming back full throttle. The next morning I got up and wrote all day long.
I was fortunate enough to find another team to work with DJ/Emcee/Producer Willie Evans Jr., and director Gary Anderson who’d directed Julius X in Detroit. In all my work, I’ve learned the key to success is a good team. It’s a little embarrassing when you are working on something, and there are so many people who should get credit, but because you are the face, they tend to be in the background and not get their props. Gary and Willie Evans made it happen. We had a great time in Baltimore, and I can’t wait for the three of us to hang again and do some good work.
I plan to write a blog post about Baltimore, much to talk about. But right now, I’m just reveling in the fact that I did it. I’m nostalgic. Happy. Sad. Motivated. Tired. But most of all thankful.