finding freedom: The Journey of robert smalls
Script developed by JaMeeka D. Holloway, Celeste Jennings, & Caroline Randall Williams w/
Dr. Jessica Berry, Gullah consultant
Born enslaved on the McKee Plantation in Beaufort, SC, a young Robert Smalls is sent off to Charleston to work on the docks of the Charleston Harbor during the Civil War. Trusted by his family and crewmates and determined beyond his circumstances, on a foggy night in the early hours of May 13, 1862, Robert changes the course of his destiny and history when he seizes the Confederate’s USS Planter and steers it into the Union Blockade off the coast of Charleston Harbor.
Infusing music, media, and movement, FINDING FREEDOM paints the early years of a bright-eyed Robert Smalls enslaved in Beaufort; learning the land, waters, and Gullah traditions of his mother, his daring and heroic commandeering of the USS Planter through the Charleston Harbor during the Civil War, to his later life of advocacy in the US House of Representatives.
Teralyn Reiter, Original Story | Charlton Singleton, Musical Director | Tristan André Parks, Movement Director | MeJah Balams, Set Designer | Celeste Jennings, Costume Designer | Kathy Perkins, Lighting Designer | Joseph Amodei, Media Designer |Preston Dunnavant, Sound Designer | Damon Fordham, Historian/Dramaturg |
Dr. Jessica Berry, Gullah Cultural Consultant
Becca Eddins, Production Supervisor
Aydan Gadsden, Joshua Suiter, Keith Alston, Michele Powe, Zania Cummings, John Smalls, Shanna Hastie,
Ronnie Walker, Sadia Matthews, Morrison & R.W. Smith
Photos by "Charleston Gaillard Center. Amos Adams"
single black female
BY lisa b. thompson
Single Black Female is a fast and funny look at desire, expectations, and stereotypes through the lives of Two tight-knit and successful Single Black Women in the Early 2000s.
Featuring Kyma Lassiter and Lauren Foster-Lee
Costumes styled by Aquila Butler | Scenic Dressing by Sabrina Bianca | Lighting Designed by Erin Bell
Directed by JaMeeka Holloway for Bulldog Ensemble Theatre
Photos by "Erin Bell @bullcityphotography
BY JACQUELINE E. LAWTON
“Black entrepreneurship is on the rise. It’s so important that we are highlighting the foundation [that] this isn’t something new,” Holloway noted. “We stand on the shoulders of folks like Mattie and Edward Berry, who opened doors for us that we may never have even known"
Tantrum Theatre/Ohio University
Written by Jacqueline E. Lawton
Directed by JaMeeka Holloway
Dramaturgy by Jocelyn Clarke
Scenic Design by C. David Russell | Sound Design by Sharath Pate
Costume Design by Sabrina Bianca Guillaume
Choreography by Travis D. Gatling | Music Direction by Melissa Brobeck,
Featuring Kay Collins, Brian David Evans, Lauryn Glenn,
Davon Johnson, Ally Poole, Clarissa Raybon,
Oliver Runyon, Avery Smith, Derek Smith, Donald Avi Stewart, Austin Vega, Rhys Carr, Cassie Cope, Holden Evans,
Aliyah Graham, Ethan Hess, Ayana Johnson,
Ella Manning, and Sebastian Yobé-Bowen
Stage Management by Natalie Mathis
much ado about nothing
Originally written in the late 1500s, our production is loosely inspired by the hit t.v show GOSSIP GIRL, is framed in modern times, and is set against the backdrop of elite education, wealth and affluence on the Upper East Side of New York City. In the original play, the action is set in the port city of Messina, in our world, the action lives on the rooftop terrace of an Upper East Side mansion, endearingly called Messina, home of the charismatic and respected “Unofficial Mayor of NYC,” Leonato, father of Hero; Don Pedro, who in the original play is the Prince of Aragon, is now THE DON, Pedro, is a champion debater at the elite ARAGON University, where Leonato is an alumnus and Beatrice, Hero, Benedick, and Claudio all currently attend. As I was preparing my concept for this production, I knew I wanted to craft a version of this story that felt hip, authentic, resonant, and reflective of our current times and that empowered all the Woman characters. Simultaneously, the announcement of the Gossip Girl reboot was making its way around social media. Filled with nostalgia, it dawned on me that just like in Gossip Girl, the complicated plotlines and complex characters in Much Ado sit well within the often high-stakes society like in the U.E.S. I was in the thick of my teenage years when the original GOSSIP premiered. As a theatre kid, of course, I already had an oversaturated love for New York City, add hot fashion and soundtrack, wealthy-dysfunctional families, passionate, tight-knit yet two-faced cliques, scandal, betrayal, mistaken identities, toxic teenage romances, etc. -- it was gripping and I was enthralled! Much like Gossip Girl, MUCH ADO centers on relationships- familial, platonic, and romantic; impulsiveness, passion, deception, scandal, betrayal, and exclusive/affluent communities with women oppressed by high standards of societal expectation. They both depict cultures where status is flimsy, arbitrary, and potentially traumatic. Although our production diverges from many of Shakespeare’s original ideas to make space for more inclusive and, culturally relevant & responsible storytelling, we continue his tradition of using Theatre to comment on and hold up a mirror to societal disparities. Because Shakespeare’s works live in the Public Domain, working on his plays, for me, is like pre-drawn canvases, just waiting to be painted upon. A lot of my fascination with Shakespeare lies not in the longevity of the plays but in the fact that the plays always get to remain new and contemporary when the vision allows it to. The plays are a concourse for imagination and creativity to pioneer and expand. You can take his original work and place it under any lens you’re interested in exploring the work through. With the same respect in which I admire beautiful music/song Covers and rearrangements, I’ve enjoyed the nuanced perspective that many contemporary theatre artists are choosing to reconnaissance Shakespeare’s worlds and text. I wanted my concept to excite and be relevant to the student actors while also challenging and reframing some of Shakespeare's misogynistic elements and reimagining the female characters in ways that empower them with a stronger voice, larger presence, and more agency. Many of the themes and attitudes Shakespeare explored needed to be reassessed & updated to meet a contemporary audience. I won't reveal any secrets of the show, but I will share that I've been very intentional about challenging traditional and questionable norms :-)
The "Much Ado About Nothing" production team includes assistant director and choreographer Jessie Cope Miller, assistant director Austin Verstreater, costume design by Victoria Mearini, lighting design by Jaemin Park, scenic design by associate professor Tamara L. Honesty, sound design by adjunct faculty member Chuck Hatcher, props management by Kathalina Thorpe, head props artisan Travis Daniel Williams, and technical direction by Jack Libengood. Assistant professor Tom Humes is the production stage manager, Samantha Pamfilie is the stage manager.