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Wilmington Shines a Spotlight on Theater

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Lumina Festival of the Arts will open to a weekend full of dance, poetry, and theatre events, including the day-long Spotlight on Theater. Wilmington theatre fans will have a chance to see plays from Khalisa Rae, Robin Post, Ed Wagenseller, and Mouths of Babes. Each of these performances is widely different in content and will span the subjects of women's empowerment, using memoir to challenge the patriarchy, academic tenure, and the community’s response to Hurricane Florence. 

Read on for our interviews with the folks behind the curtain to learn a bit more about each performance: 

Why choose theatre to convey the themes of this project? 

Robin PostRelease the Wild ChickenTheatre provides an opportunity to employ voice and expression to explore memoir and storytelling while experimenting with mixed media. 

Khalisa RaeThe 7+ Deadly Sins of Being a WomanI have been apart of the Vagina Monologues at UNCW and other cities for 4+ years and I think those productions have changed the way we view traditional theater. I think theater is the perfect medium because it allows normal people to express and transform on stage, but also bear their truths in front of an audience. This production has had such an influential impact on peoples lives, and that impact& experience is only enhanced because it was held in a black box- theatrical setting. On stage in this production, you get to see everyday women's stories told in a way that their creativity can flourish, and a means of self-expression developed. Dramatic readings and theatrical monologues are so important as it relates to exploring the unexplored and shedding light on untold stories, but also by tearing away inhibitions and allowing the actresses to be free to present their truths in a powerful way. 

Ed WagensellerAcademania: AKA I’m Only Doing This for the TenureI’ve been in Academia for 25 years.  During that time I’ve witnessed the beauty and “idiosyncrasies" of the system.  The tenure process is ridiculous and antiquated.  This show exposes that. 

Trey Morehouse, Mouths of Babes: Florence Stories Voices from After the StormTheatre is, by its nature, a community building art form. Creating a play, however short the process, is like creating a little society. And I believe that, in tackling the unprecedented challenges of climate change, we'll need to embrace community action and community activism in a way we never have before - We'll need to build dozens of little societies. So in this sense, the form resembles the subject. In looking at subjects to create a documentary play about, I find this question (does the form resemble the subject?) to be an important formula. Documentary theatre is becoming an increasingly popular genre - I think because we're entering an age where truth and journalism are increasingly at risk. So forms that once delved inward are politicizing themselves and increasingly looking outward to explore what's true, what's not, what's worth preserving, and what's worth expunging from our society. 

What was your inspiration for this project?  

R.P.: A visit to my mother two summers ago and many years of mulling it over. 

K.R.: Last year, I was approached by a local theater company and actress who was interested in having me write and direct a play based on my poetry book, Real Girls Have Real Problems. I worked with the actress to co-write the show, craft the idea, and do all direction and production of the show. The idea came from what was going on in the nation at the time with Me Too and the Times Up movement. We also were approached by UNCW to possibly host this show as an alternative to Vagina Monologues. We knew we wanted to format to be similar to the monologues with an ensemble of women performing dramatic readings and pieces. We decided to call it 7+ Deadly Sins and make it a choreopoem/ combination of dramatic monologues and poetry.  

E.W.: I am currently going up for tenure.  One of the suggestions from my esteemed colleagues was to consider performing a one man show.  So here it is! 

T.M.: I was inspired by how we saw south eastern communities come together following Florence. Just how the election of the current president gave rise to a whole new generation of social activists, the Atlantic's increasing storm activity seems to have energized the immediacy and urgency of climate activism. One of the folks we interviewed, an activist with the non-profit Feast Down East, talked about how the aftermath of Florence felt apocalyptic. I would normally shake this comment off as an overstatement, or somehow non-seriousBut this is coming from someone who lived the storm, and its aftermath, in a way that few others have. She ran food drives from center to center, fought through flooded and destroyed roads, perhaps literally saved folks from starvation during a time when the basic infrastructures of our communities came crumbling down. (She was in the shit, as they say.) So if she says Florence felt like the apocalypse, who am I to argue? Also in the interview, she very confidently said that the work she did during Florence convinced her that this was the place she wanted to spend the rest of her life. She wanted to fight for the rights of coastal communities. I want to do a play about thatI want to do a play about people fighting the apocalypse.

Imagine that you’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?  

R.P.: Prapple. 

K.R.: I would be called Starburst. I believe that there should be a crayon box color that represents all colors, all shades, all hues. Some people say that if all the colors were combined that would make black. But I believe that all the shades and colors should still be seen and highlighted. When you put them together they make a gorgeous rainbow of light. 

E.W.: Chartreuse.  I like the name and I’m very loud. 

T.M.: I would be the color that makes other colors shine brighter. I imagine that's magenta, but I'm not too good at color theory. 

What would your autobiography be called? 

R.P.: Release the Wild Chicken 

K.R.: Either: How to Know When You're Becoming or Unraveling, Undoing, Becoming or How To Know You're Doing it Wrong. 

E.W.: Ed Wagenseller:  He Tried 

T.M.: Trey Morehouse: He Cared About Things and Made Some Plays. 

The Lumina Festival Spotlight on Theater will have something for theater lovers of all kinds, and patrons can decide between attending only one show, or attending them all. Tickets for these outstanding productions are available ahead of time at the Arts Ticket Office Monday – Thursday from 12 –4 p.m. (910-962-3931), or online here. 


-Lindsay Lake