“Tears of the Soul” will be presented by the AngelWing Project, Inc. on October 25 at 10 A. M. at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, MD as a Field Trip production but is open to the general public. This original play is written and directed by Angela Wilson who is also the founder of the AngelWing Project.
The show revolves around a fictitious family, the Barnes, with the backdrop being the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. The family lives in Memphis where King had arrived to support a strike by sanitation workers who were mostly African-American. At the time the war in Viet Nam is also raging. This impacts the family directly. Memphis was a hotbed of racism and violence. How the family deals with their own family issues amid tragedy will leave you at the edge of your seat as you laugh, cry and cheer for and with the Barnes family as they are forced to “free their souls from misconceptions, hatred and fear.”
The play was recently named “Festival Favorite” in the full-length play, category at the DC Black Theatre & Arts Festival. Also, Wilson was able to interview a 1968 Memphis sanitation worker to validate this story, and he was a guest at their performance last year.
The cast includes Joelle Denise (Vivian Barnes). Robert Freemon (Fred Barnes), Carolyn Robinson (Ida Mae), Devin King (Dexter Barnes), Leah Mallory (Gina Barnes), Craig Simms Jr. (James Barnes), Tim Megginson (Turner Davis), Terena McClorn (Maxine Davis), Brooke Bloomquist (Eileen Bridgewater), Reginald Baskerville (Pastor Thompson), Michael Powell (Sonny), and Asia Winger (Brandon).
The AngelWing Project has been building a following since 2016 with innovative and thought-provoking plays. A 501(c)3 non-profit performing arts organization, the AngelWing Project is making a name in the community one show at a time. Founder Angela Wilson, the creative director believes that if you present quality shows, people will come and come back again. This has proven true as this organization prepares to bring another stellar performance of the production, “Tears of the Soul” to the Hammonds Theater at the Chesapeake Arts Center where they are the Theater in Residence
I had a chance to interview playwright and director, Angela Wilson, about “Tears of the Soul” and the AngelWing Project.
Bio: Angela Wilson loves telling stories! She loves telling borne out of her cultural experience and the complex journeys of people whose life experiences result in human triumphs. Her stories are not about well-known people who are mentioned and written about in the pages of history but of ordinary people, families and friends who could be anyone. Most of her plays are based on true events. “There is so much drama in everyday life, I never have to totally make things up,” she states. In her latest work, Tears of the Soul, Angela’s ability to weave together a nostalgically poignant play about a family living through the turbulent unrest in 1968 is skillfully highlighted. People will relate to each and every character as a reflection of themselves.
Through the performances of the AngelWing Project, Angela seeks to educate, entertain and empower people of all races with a better understanding of the significance and value of every human being. She wants them to walk away from her productions inspired to make a difference in their communities.
- Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am married and have two children and 2 grandchildren. I have lived in MD since 2007. I moved here from Louisville, KY. I work for GBMC as the Director of Diversity and Organizational Development. I have been in Human Resources for about 22 years. I love travelling and creative writing and when I get a chance, a good book. I am the President and Founder of The AngelWing Project, Inc.
- You are both director and playwright for “Tears of the Soul.” Do you have formal training in either and if so where was that training? If not, what inspired you to write and direct?
I have been writing plays, sketches and skits for many years. I have always been a writer in some form, short stories, poetry, songs and plays. I started writing plays in church. I have written and performed plays for many audiences in the church community and have been the leader of drama ministries. Of course, the more I did it, the better I got at it. I took drama in high school and found my love of the stage back then. I have performed in Community Theater as well, but eventually I began to realize that I enjoyed writing and producing shows just as much as being on the stage. In 2014, I decided that I wanted to expand my plays and bring them to the larger community because I saw the way I could express things through art and uplift and educate audiences. In 2015, my organization The AngelWing Project became a non-profit 501(c)3 performing arts organization. I’ve self-studied extensively about play writing and directing, and I am a member of the Dramatist Guild, The Playwright’s Center and our organization is a member of the American Association of Community Theater. These associations provide training and many resources for playwrights and theater professionals.
- The play center on a black family about the time of MLK’s assassination over 50 years ago. Were you alive or old enough to remember that time or is this done from a historical prospective? If the latter, what resources did you use to research that time and place in history?
I was alive but too young to remember, and I did a lot of research. Of course, I heard about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s death for many years and knew it occurred in Memphis, TN but I didn’t really understand the events leading up to it. As I read up on that story, I was struck by the courage of these sanitation workers who were striking for fair and safe working conditions. I started to picture this family in my mind and couldn’t wait to write about them. Part of my research was also actually speaking to one of the sanitation workers who marched with Dr. King. As a matter of fact, he actually came and saw the play and enjoyed it very much. He stated that we couldn’t have told the story any better. His name is Cleophus Smith and he is still fighting for the rights of the AFSCME workers to this day.
- What other plays have you written, and are there any other plays you are in the process of writing?
With the AngelWing Project, I have written a play entitled, “Boardin’ Time,” a story called” Rising Up” that featured other writers’ spoken word pieces, and “Tears of the Soul” which we have had 3 runs with. This is our 4th run. We also submitted to the DC Black Theater and Arts Festival and was invited to perform there this past summer. We were voted the “festival Favorite” in the full-length category. I’ve also directed “Having Our Say: the Delaney Sisters First 100 years.” We perform at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park where we are a theater in residence. I’ve also written holiday plays – mainly for church audiences. I am working on a one-act play about the realities of Alzheimer’s disease using a story of a woman and daughter and their journey. I’m always looking for my inspiration for my next play.
- What did you as playwright and as director want to impart to present day audiences of all races?
“Tears of the Soul” is about relationships. It’s about the fact that we all have different perspectives because we are different ages, genders, religions, backgrounds; and races and all of us have needs, yet we don’t listen to one another. It doesn’t work and we can’t create solutions as families or as communities when we don’t listen to one another. We also all have pain that we can use for good or we can use it to hurt ourselves. This story takes us on a painful and beautiful journey with a family in crisis and how they found their way through tragedy to realize what’s important. I want audiences to see themselves through these characters and walk away asking themselves, how can they be open to hearing other perspectives.
Don’t miss this touching and historic production of “Tears of the Soul” playing at Chesapeake Arts Center on October 25, 2019 at 10 a.m., Hammonds Lane Theater. 194 Hammonds Lane. Brooklyn Park, MD 21225.
Tickets are $7.00 online or at the door.