Brandon Dion Gregory (Passion), Jody Reynard (Happiness), Ryan Jamaal Swain (Love), and Jerome Preston Bates (Wisdom)
“Keenan Scott II is a young man with an old soul and giant vision,” Moreland says. “He writes for our present day experiences. A playwright who writes from the view point of ‘now’ and who has an uncanny way of creating dialogue that allows me to ask hard questions and explore cultures in an open way. I was immediately drawn to Thoughts of a Colored Man because the show gave me an experience and understanding of human beings I have grown up with. Never having seen these humans on a stage sharing their lives, I was drawn and compelled to share it.”
Thoughts of a Colored Man is set in contemporary Brooklyn and unfolds on one “ordinary” day, as seven characters—all Black men of varying ages and experience—intersect and interact with each other. Their overlapping narratives are accompanied and accented by music from DJ Chesney Snow and choreography by Millicent Marie Johnnie performed by two women dancers. The characters are not named. They are identified as Passion, Lust, Love, Happiness, Anger, Depression, and Wisdom. Scott employs hip-hop inflected and slam poetry combined with traditional dialogue to illuminate the hopes, dreams, fears, and sensitivities of these seven men.
Veteran director Steve H. Broadnax III will guide the production. Broadnax’s recent credits include two plays by Dominique Morrisseau, Pipeline at Actors Theatre of Louisville and Blood at the Root at National Black Theatre. He is slated to direct the world premiere of The Hot Wing King by Katori Hall at New York’s Signature Theatre in early 2020.
Syracuse Stage is presenting Thoughts of a Colored Man under the artistic umbrella of Cold Read, the term designating new work at the theatre, as in the Cold Read Festival of New Plays, now in its third year, and last season’s production of Possessing Harriet. For artistic director Bob Hupp and associate artistic director Kyle Bass, the ability to present new plays is essential to the artistic vitality of Syracuse Stage.
“Our mission is to bring engaging and diverse stories to life on stage for our Central New York audience,” says Hupp. “The exciting and accomplished team of actors and creative artists assembled for this premiere embody Stage’s commitment to artistic excellence. Following last season’s much lauded premiere of Possessing Harriet, I’m thrilled to include a new play in our 47th season. New plays are the lifeblood of our craft, and Thoughts of a Colored Man is the perfect complement to a season that includes classics, crowd pleasers and appealing contemporary works.”
Moreover, presenting Thoughts of a Colored Man allows Syracuse Stage to foster partnerships with community organizations. Centerstate CEO/Generation Next, 100 Black Men of Syracuse, and Hillside Work Scholarship Connection will participate in events related to the production.
“Playwrights require a couple of things to thrive,” Moreland explains. “Space to allow ideas to flow, sensitive and smart actors to explore their words, and producers to believe in their vision.”
And, in order to succeed, plays need audiences. Syracuse Stage audiences will be the first to see this exciting new work as it takes an important step on its journey to Broadway.
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