Senior theatre major Shanjala Davis-Allen, who plans on graduating in December, shares her experience about working on Theatre Wesleyan's Portraits In Black.
Portraits In Black, a collection of scenes and monologues on the black experience by Gus Edwards, will conclude Theatre Wesleyan’s ‘Six Plays At Six Feet’ semester of fall programming. The production will be presented at the Thad Smotherman Theatre at Texas Wesleyan University (1205 Binkley Street, 76105) from Nov. 20-22. This production will also be available as a live stream for audience members who wish to experience the show from their home.
Shanjala, the show is a compilation of scenes and monologues reflecting the Black experience. Which section or excerpt of the show is your favorite and why?
"It’s between Mommy Loves You and a piece between [junior theatre major] Julissa Norment and [freshman theatre major David] Bates where they talk about police brutality. These are my favorite because the police brutality piece is a topic we are having to deal with right now and is a big issue. Mommy Loves You [talks about] something I feel no one understands unless you are put in the position [of the character]. I have personally seen it throughout the years of my life within my own family. It’s hard being parents of a child with ADHD and, unless you have can afford the right care, it’s all put on you."
Director Joe Brown is working with D. Wambui Richardson, from Fort Worth’s Jubilee Theatre, as a cultural and artistic advisor on the show. What has Richardson helped contribute to your process working on the production?
"D. Wambui Richardson has been a tremendous help in my process of creating the characters I have to [portray]. He shows an insight that I don’t understand myself until he explains it to me. He has helped me to be a better actress and I appreciate him helping so much."
What should audiences expect if they see Portraits In Black, whether in-person or via live stream?
"They should expect real topics. These monologues are things, specifically Black people, are dealing with on an every day [basis]. This can be a hard show to watch, but I feel that this show is something that everyone needs to experience."
Which Black actors or actresses have inspired you and why?
"Zendaya and Viola Davis have inspired me tremendously. I look up to both of them and see what they have done for just a Black girl trying to make a living doing what she wants to do. They have made the strides that others couldn’t and continue to push me to become [successful] as well."
Talk about the rehearsal process so far and what you are learning or what you have enjoyed so far.
"I feel at home and comfortable. They push me to continue what I do no matter how hard it is. I have enjoyed being part of such an amazing cast and being part of Joe Brown’s cast. I feel comfortable being Black and around others of the same skin tone and learning about the emotions and the pain it is to be Black. I am extremely thankful to be a part of such an amazing show, that I feel makes a difference."
Friday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m.
*Times and indoor venue subject to change; please check website for more details and updates.
Tickets will be $5 to attend the performance in-person. Tickets are available online at txwes.edu/theatretickets or by calling (817) 531-4211.
Audience members who choose to experience the show in-person are required to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines. A limited number of seats will be available for each performance. To maintain the safety of our faculty, staff, students and audience, no seats will be added and we will not accommodate late seating under any circumstances.
Patrons can choose to buy a streaming ticket to experience the show as a live stream performance for $5 at txwes.edu/theatretickets or by calling (817) 531-4211. Live stream links will be emailed on the day of the performance. Portraits In Black will not be a video-on-demand or rental like our recent streaming production of The Universal Language.
If you have questions, please contact the Theatre Wesleyan office at (817) 531-5867.