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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Stage Play Takes a ‘Colorful’ Look at the N-word ‘N’ Coming to the Chesapeake Arts Center Sept. 10-11

“Mrs. Page” (Oivia Keu) is a 70-year-old African American widow. A passionate conservative, she campaigned for Barry Goldwater, a five-term U.S. senator from Arizona and a champion of conservatism. Page is also a strong admirer of author, orator, educator, and presidential advisor Booker T. Washington. Her belief of astrology in determining one’s fate and guilt for a personal decision led her to the decision to never leave her home. Enter her caregiver “Eddy” (Garrett Matthews). A liberal young white struggling actor, Eddy is cast in a show that is about to give him the big break he needs.

However, during the rehearsal process, the playwright adds the N-word to the script. What’s Eddy to do? To find out how Eddy handles what could be a career-maker or career-breaker decision, you will need to attend one of the upcoming performances of “N.”

Written by playwright David Alex and directed by Angela Wilson, the play will be performed Saturday, September 10, 2022, at 6:00 p.m., and includes a talkback with the playwright. Presented by the AngelWing Project, Inc. (AWP), the show will also be performed on Sunday, September 11, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. The performances will take place at the Chesapeake Arts Center, Studio, 194 Hammonds Lane in Brooklyn Park, Maryland.

Alex is an award-winning Chicago playwright who has received three awards from the Illinois Arts Council in recognition in playwriting.

“When somebody first sees the title and reads the synopsis, they may feel this is a play about race,” said Alex. “Well yes, it deals with the N-word, but it also deals with youth versus age. Mrs. Paige is a senior. She’s a passionate social, political conservative. She campaigned for Barry Goldwater and is also a staunch supporter of Clarence Thomas.  Eddy is a liberal white youth, and I consider 21 a youth. And so, we have their different viewpoints. We have liberal versus conservative.”

He added, “And again, we are dealing with the N-word, which of course is related to race. We also have a story of Mrs. Page who is pretty sure of herself. She’s been around and she’s established herself, whereas Eddy is still trying to establish himself. Page has tested her principles, has been engaged, and knows where she is. Eddy thinks he knows who he is but finds out he really doesn’t know who he is. They have two different viewpoints that really come together. The whole catalyst of the play is the idea of the N-word. Who can use it, and is it allowable?”

The play seeks to challenge us to look at the role society has played in shaping our personal, and thus, our national attitudes and prejudices particularly when it comes to the use of the N-word.

“The N-word involves the history of our country and as people how we look at it,” said Alex. “When I search for theaters that would be interested in a piece such as ‘N,’ I look at two things. One is their mission statement and two is their production history. When I looked at the Angel Wings Project website, I figured it was a perfect match. I sent Angela a letter with a synopsis of the play and some of the reviews and she took it from there.”

Wilson is the founder of the Angel Wing Project (AWP), an innovative 501(c)3 non-profit performing arts organization dedicated to using the performing arts to uplift communities. AWP educates and empowers by telling stories through powerful performances about culture and humanity.

“We try to tell stories that are culturally relevant and thought-provoking that gives the audience something to think about and something to chew on, and at the same be entertained,” said Wilson. “So, in reading the script, I felt like this would be a good fit for us.”

AWP is also dedicated to building bridges, delivering quality performances, and creating lasting relationships.  

“Sometimes, we have a position that we’re not really willing to move from,” said Wilson. “But when you are open, and you start to learn other people’s perspectives, then it just makes for better relationships. It makes people open their minds a bit. Because at face value, one can say, Oh, he’s young, he doesn’t know anything, or she’s older, she doesn’t know anything. Or she’s Republican, she doesn’t know anything, or oh, he’s Democrat, he doesn’t know anything. And we have these positions. But when we listen to each other, it helps us to understand the world better.”

Dr. Gregory Branch sits on AWP’s board of directors.

“This is a provocative story which provides an opportunity to learn from the past, live in the present and lay the groundwork for the future,” said Dr. Branch.

Doors for “N” open 30 minutes prior to the performances. Attendees are urged to arrive early.   

For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 443-433-6250 or visit https://theangelwingproject.org/n-by-david-alex.

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