Of course I can tell you ladies that beyond the shadow of a doubt most men do tell you exactly what you want to know either by their actions or their words. It just takes you guys many many years to figure that out! The other vendors inside the M.C. Benton Convention Center were primed and ready to shop their products and services to all that ventured into their arena, including myself. Unfortunately, my budget was expended on Thelma (Bern Nadette Stanis) from Good Times.
I did, however, enjoy the smooth sounds provided by Ben’s CD’s and MP3’s, and the t-shirts provided by Wayne’s World. Someone was even hawking a book about our first Black President Barrack Obama. May the lord continuously be with him as he continuously battles principalities in high places!
On my way back to the downtown Marriott Hotel I came across two other older women who were waiting to catch a bus to one of the more than 120 performances on display at this year’s festival. They were part of a seniors group that came down on a motor coach from Baltimore, MD. Each one seemed quite ecstatic about the performances and stated that they were repeat attendees. After that it was back up to the media center on the second floor of the downtown Marriott Hotel to upload my pics and vids and experience more of the behind the scenes activities of this year’s theatre festival. It was also an opportunity for me to pick the brains of Mr. McLaughlin (Media Relations) and staff to choose a play to check out and write about. Based on their input I decided to check out ALL AMERICAN GIRLS: A NEGRO LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN in the Shirley Recital Hall at Salem College on Thursday evening August 4, 2011. I then sat outside the media room at a table that had been used earlier for sign-ups for aspiring artists’ networking events. The sign read that all of the networking events had been filled and that a lady by the name of Doreen was the contact person. During the course of my stay, I had been approached by many aspiring artists’ that were looking for Ms. Doreen. One of those aspiring artist was Will Nash from Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ. He left me his head shot and bio when he realized that I was covering this event for Trend Magazine Online. He probably did not believe me when I assured him that I would keep his information for future reference. Another aspiring artist that graced my table was a young lady by the name of Constance Reynolds from High Point, NC. She was very cute and definitely not camera shy! I was also able to listen in on some of the aspiring actors’ as they rehearsed their lines for upcoming readings at various locations.
It was now Thursday August 4, and I was very excited with the anticipation of seeing my first play that evening which began at 8 PM. Unfortunately I did not make it back to Winston-Salem in time because I had to give a last minute early evening Charlotte Daily City Tour. I lamented a bit until I realized that these plays occur on multiple dates. My Friday was clear as I did not get any business in Charlotte so I decided to head back downtown on the WSTA bus and check out a matinee play at 3 PM. I once again drove over to the Hawthorne Inn near the convention center and caught the 12:50 PM bus this time. Guess what, it was on time again! Our driver was a transplant that moved down from Boston, MA, on a whim four years ago. She was still very excited because she won tickets on her job to attend the opening night gala that Monday August 1, 2011, where all the stars were on parade. At $255 a pop I could certainly understand her excitement. My ticket must have gotten lost in the mail. Riding the bus with me was a festival attendee by the name of Mrs. Valli Pryor who stated that she has been coming to this festival since the very beginning in 1989. She lives and works at the hospital in Baltimore, MD, and was going to meet up with her husband to attend a matinee play. “I love plays they are awesome,” she said with an accompanying smile. “My favorites are Route 66 -- featuring Nat King Cole songs, and Those Sensational Soulful ‘60’s,” whose title is self-explanatory. She also clued me in on a similar black theatre festival in Washington, DC.
It was back to the downtown Marriott to link up with another WSTA bus that would take me to a 3 PM matinee play that I had not decided which one. I arrived early enough to head back up to the media center to once again act as a fly on the wall. I sat at the same table where everyone was looking for a lady by the name of Doreen -- who turns out was the liaison between aspiring actors and producers and directors. Well, it turns out that I was actually sitting in her spot as she conversed with an aspiring actor nearby. I just had to tell her that meeting her was like meeting one of the many celebrities on hand. She was easy to talk with and a very nice lady.
All and all it was a truly memorable and electrifying event from start to finish, and I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes access that was granted to me by the festival’s Media Relations Department - Kudos to Mr. Brian McLaughlin and his highly-efficient staff. I cannot wait to complete this article so that you can read it and enjoy it and perhaps attend the next festival in 2013.
The lobby of the theater quickly filled with bright-eyed bushy-tailed theater-goers whom all seemed extremely excited about what was about to go down. Some real theater! I must admit that their enthusiasm rubbed off on me as I captured it all via digital media. I really liked the fact that the dress code was informal. I learned very quickly after being the only one with a suit on on opening day that Monday. As the time drew nigh we were told to please enter the theater as the plays were about to begin. Two hours and 15 minutes later we all exited the theaters satisfied and fulfilled for the bus trip back to the downtown Marriott. If you want to know more about my review of TWO OLD BLACK GUYS JUST SITTING AROUND TALKING, check it out in the September edition of Trend Magazine Online.
It was now decision time; which play was I going to check out and write about? Out of the six offerings for the 3 PM matinee two titles stood out: ‘da Kink in my Hair and TWO OLD BLACK GUYS JUST SITTING AROUND TALKING. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I thought to myself; which play do I have the most in common with and hence would be the most interesting to me? Well, I do not have any kinks in my hair; in fact I do not have any hair at all. On the other hand, I am a middle-aged Black guy who will hopefully get to one day be an Old Black Guy; I just answered my very own question. With that revelation, it was off to catch the WSTA bus to the UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC, for the 3 PM matinee. The area in front of the downtown Marriott was virtually littered with theater goers waiting to catch the WSTA bus to one of the six matinee plays. I noticed that this crowd and most of the attendees were older Black and well-educated women which explains why we men are usually left in the dust when it comes to culture and literary etiquette. On the bus I met a lady from Milwaukee, WI, who is a retired journalist that was in town to check out the plays as well as promote her own work in which she toiled for over a year to get it right. She was hoping to connect with one of the producers at the festival and was going to see the same play as myself. My excitement escalated as the WTSA bus rolled up at the curb outside the Catawba Theatre at the UNC School of the Arts. Upon arrival I learned that both plays - Old Black Guys and ‘da Kink -- were sold out! Yikes I thought, I came all this way for nothing? Thankfully I was able to smooze my way in by flashing my media credentials and acting “official.”
‘da Kink in my Hair
TWO OLD BLACK GUYS JUST SITTING AROUND TALKING