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Baltimore native brings ‘Happiness’ stage play home

Stacy M. Brown | 2/5/2016, 9 a.m.
Ava, Shauna, Stephanie and Gia are best friends who help each other through the highs and lows of life.
Happiness for Survival” opens a three-day run beginning Friday, February 12, 2016 in the auditorium of Ayot Eerised’s alma mater Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School in Northeast Baltimore.

Ava, Shauna, Stephanie and Gia are best friends who help each other through the highs and lows of life.

The four have three other friends, Jo who stays under the radar never choosing a side; Cori, an in-your-face, overbearing co-worker; and Matty, who enjoys giving Cori a hard time.

Playwright Mahoghany

Playwright Mahoghany

The story of the seven women comes to life in the stage play, “Happiness for Survival,” an original production— directed, written and produced by Baltimore-native Mahoghany Ayot Eerised who also stars in the play as Ava.

“Happiness for Survival” opens a three-day run beginning Friday, February 12, 2016 in the auditorium of Ayot Eerised’s alma mater Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School in Northeast Baltimore.

After a special performance for the school’s student body, staff and faculty on February 12, the public will be able to see live performances at 7 p.m. that evening; also at 7 p.m. February 13; and 3 p.m. on February 14.

“‘Happiness for Survival’ came to me when I was in Los Angeles and I was trying to find my footing and nothing was fitting for me and I kind of felt lost and unhappy,” said Ayot Eerised, who is better known as Mahoghany. “I was thinking that this should be one of my happiest times and I knew that I needed to be happy to survive.”

After sensing a need to find her creative side, Mahoghany decided to write. For three consecutive days she wrote as a means of overcoming the doldrums that had set in, to survive.

“I couldn’t stop writing and at the end of the three days I hatched this story and decided to see what everyone else thought of it,” Mahoghany said.

The result was a fresh, bold, poetic and soulful comedy/drama stage play that Mahaghony said digs deep and examines the choices and decisions of individuals.

She said the play will not only move a person to perform a self examination, but ultimately it will force an individual to assess whether they’re a good friend.

“It is a cast of seven women, but it’s for men too,” Mahoghany said. “Organically, it just happened that it’s all women. It wasn’t planned but as I was writing it I noticed it was just women and I didn’t fight it. What makes the play so special is that it’s an all-woman cast who are supporting one another but not in a cookie-cutter, preachy way.”

Men can appreciate the production just as well as women, she said.

“That I’m a daddy’s girl is undeniable. But, my father doesn’t lie to me and if he doesn’t like something he’ll say to me that I have work still to do,” Mahoghany said. “When he saw it, he said it was top-notch and he noted that I got my knack for humor from him. He said it was awesome and a thumbs up from my dad was like getting a thumbs up from a New York critic.”

The real life scenes depicted in the play dig deep and examine the choices of the seven women, which many will be able to relate to, according to Mahoghany.

“It’s an emotional, spiritual and physical journey about life and its challenges, the ups and downs, the successes and failures. It’s about dreams and why we will or won’t, do or don’t, go after them,” she said. “And, equally as important, it’s about sisterhood. It’s about the weight and true value of friendship. Sometimes we don’t realize how much we need our friends to support us and the characters eventually get to this great place.”

Tickets for the play are $20 for adults. A group of 10 can purchase tickets for $160 while those under 18 can purchase tickets for just $10 at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit: www.mkt.com/happinessforsurvival.