An ensemble of 6 actors presents a reading of scenes from Richard Wesley’s plays and screenplays, with an introduction to each scene by Richard Wesley. Autumn, Native Son, The Might Gents, The Past Is The Past…and other works from his amazing career as a playwright and screenwriter will be delivered to you on this special Black History Event.
Karen Chilton, Melissa Murray-Mutch, Jillie Simon, Ray Anthony Thomas, Brian D. Coats, R. Ashley Bowles
R. ASHLEY BOWLES a.k.a. COWBOY is a producer – Boot Strap Production. As an actor he has played the roles of Brutus Jones – The Emperor Jones, Doaker – The Piano Lesson, Elderly Satchel Paige –Requiem For Racism (NFT, Nominated for Audelco Award Best Actor, Younger Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson – Black Babe Ruth, Charles (drug addict) – Columbus Circle (Nominated Best Actor – Globe Theatre, NYC, and many other roles through the years. Contact – Boot Strap Productions
KAREN CHILTON is a New York-based Actor/Writer. Her dramatic works for the stage include CONVERGENCE, winner of the New Professional Theatre’s Writers Festival; SAYING GRACE: A Solo Performance Piece for the Stage, part of the Women of Color Theatre Fest; SWITCH! A ten-minute play, produced The Fire This Time Festival 2017, and HEIRLOOM, A Play in One Act. She is also author of the critically-acclaimed biography of jazz pianist HAZEL SCOTT (Univ. of Michigan Press) and co-author of the jazz memoir of legendary vocalist Gloria Lynne, I WISH YOU LOVE (St. Martin’s Press). Film credits include: Half Nelson, It’s Kind of A Funny Story, Gowanus, Brooklyn (winner of Sundance Film Fest -Short Film Category), Inside A Change (winner of HBO Latino Film Fest). Recent TV credits include: Quantico; Law & Order: Criminal Intent; Rubicon. She is currently a M.F.A. candidate in Dramatic Writing at New York University-Tisch School of the Arts. www.karen-chilton.com
BRIAN D. COATS, Actor BIO: Broadway: Jitney. Off-Broadway includes: The First Noel (CTH/ The Apollo), On the Levee (Lincoln Center), The Merry Wives of Windsor, Two Gentlemen of Verona (Public). Regional: The Nest (Denver Center Theatre), Seven Guitars, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Two River Theater), Fences, A Raisin in the Sun (Geva Theater), Distant Fires (People’s Light and Theater), The Wedding Gift, pen/man/ship (Contemporary American Theatre Fest), Count (PlayMakers Rep). TV includes: “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “JAG,” “Blue Bloods,” “The Sopranos,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Luke Cage,” and “The Blacklist.”
MELISSA MURRAY is very happy to be back at La Mama, etc with Poetry Electric. She recently returned from working with the Shaker Bridge Theater in New Hampshire in the play “This” by Melissa James Gibson. She recently performed with New Perspectives Theater Women’s Playwrights Festival in “Daughters of the Revolution. New York Theater work includes, Watch Me Burn (Fresh Fruit Festival),Off-Broadway: Death of the Liberal Class ( The New Ohio Theater), Unheard Voices (EST,New York Historical Society, Museum of the City of New York) 13th Street Rep) Playboy of the West Indies, and Babes in Boyland(Lincoln Center Theater). Film and T.V. credits include the short film Hungry, We became the Enemy, Law and Order:SVU ,Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Sesame Street. Melissa also works as a Teaching Artist with Manhattan Theater Club NYU and the American Slavery Project. Thanks to my awesome family for all of their support.
JILLIE SIMON is an award-winning actor/singer-songwriter/producer who’s performed nationally and internationally on stage and screen. Off-Broadway work includes performances at the NY Public Theater (“Blues”), in “Tony & Tina’s Wedding” and playing Marilyn Monroe in “Marilyn”, with Jack Mulcahy as JFK, in BritFest. Film credits include indie film “You Have the Right to Remain Violent”, “Confess” (Best Screenplay, Hampton Film Festival), the Oscar-winning “A Beautiful Mind”, and most recently, in rock & roll comedy “The Incoherents”, starring Amy Carlson (slated for release in 2018), and “Gail’s New Boyfriend”, a comedy web-series, which will air on Amazon Prime. She’s also had the pleasure of playing in William Electric Black’s as-yet-unreleased ensemble black comedy “Copy Shop” as well as one of his musical versions of “Romeo & Juliet”. She’s co-directed, co-produced and performed in multi-award-winning music videos with her band Musiciens Sans Frontieres prior to writing, co-directing and co-producing the multi-award-winning narrative short film “Hungry”, for which she’s won 3 acting awards. She’s also performed improv shows at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, NY, UCBeast, and the NY Comedy Club.
RAY ANTHONY THOMAS (recent credits)— Broadway: THE CRUCIBLE(Ivo van Hove); JITNEY Television: HIGH MAINTENANCE; THE LAST O.G.; BIG DOGS; THE ACCIDENTAL WOLF Film: ISNT IT ROMANTIC(Rebel Wilson); THE REST OF US; SIBS
RICHARD WESLEY was born in Newark, New Jersey and graduated from Howard University. He studied Playwriting under the tutelage of Owen Dodson and Ted Shine. A member of the New Lafayette Theater from 1970 through 1973, he served as Managing Editor of its Black Theater magazine. He was presented with a Drama Desk Award for his 1971 stage play, THE BLACK TERROR. His 1978 play, THE MIGHTY GENTS, appeared on Broadway. His 1989 play, THE TALENTED TENTH, brought him his fourth AUDELCO Award for outstanding play. In 2013, he wrote the libretto for an opera, PAPA DOC, for the Trilogy Opera Company, with music composed by Dorothy Rudd Moore, and adapted from an essay by Edwidge Danticat. He has recently completed a second libretto for Trilogy Opera, this one entitled, FIVE, with music composed by Anthony Davis. A new play, AUTUMN, will receive its premiere at the Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick in April of 2015. Mr. Wesley has shared two NAACP Image “Best Picture” Awards for the motion pictures, UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT and LET’S DO IT AGAIN, both of which starred Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby. Among his other motion pictures: NATIVE SON (1984) and FAST FORWARD (1985). In television, he has authored the scripts for the movies, THE HOUSE OF DIES DREAR (PBS, 1984), MURDER WITHOUT MOTIVE (NBC, 1992), MANDELA and DE KLERK (Showtime, 1997), and co-wrote the scripts for BOJANGLES (Showtime, 2002) and DEACONS FOR DEFENSE (Showtime, 2003). He has also written episodes for the series FALLEN ANGELS (Showtime, 1996), ONE HUNDRED CENTER STREET (A&E Cable Networks, 2000 and 2001) and MIRACLE’S BOYS (2005). Mr. Wesley is currently an Associate Professor in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and has just completed eight years as the Chair of the Rita and Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing there. He is a former Vice President of the Writers Guild of America, East, Inc., and currently sits on the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the Selection Committee for the Black Film Festival of the Newark Museum, the Board of Directors, Newark Performing Arts Corporation at Symphony Hall and is an Advisor to the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers University in Brooklyn, NY. He is married to the novelist, Valerie Wilson Wesley.
The Poetry Electric fuses music, movement, sound, and dance with the spoken word and presents artists working in a wide range of styles including beatboxing, jazz and hip-hop theatre. This series has presented over 200 emerging poets from diverse cultural backgrounds.