Plays

 
                           “Purging Purvis”                            A PLAY IN TWO ACTS

(See also  a screenplay in development)

 

 VS

 

 

         In Clint Eastwood’s film “J. Egar,” Hoover’s ‘partner’ Clyde Tolson reminds him he takes credit for most of Melvin Purvis’ legendary fame. 

Famed FBI agent Melvin Purvis is dismayed by the sudden disaffection of his boss J. Edgar Hoover who has unceremoniously demoted him—no doubt, out of jealous envy over his renown as a crime fighting hero.

Sam Norris, African-American FBI Bureau employee, and the Purvis family nanny, Dolly Coker, share their empathy for Purvis and his wife Rosanne’s frustrations over Purvis’ treatment by Hoover—as well as Hoover’s personal secrets and ‘other disappointments’ regarding Purvis—FBI Agents and Other cast members have their own ‘scuttlebutt’ regarding events in the play.

                                              “Poles Apart”                                               a play in 2  acts

Matthew Henson Dares To Speak                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

Against his better judgment, Matt Henson is persuaded to do public speaking of his many attempts to be the first to reach the North Pole with Robert Peary…with the reaction he feared.

The play explores the tricky relationship of the men who lay claim to being the first to reach the North Pole.Matt Henson, a black man, had participated in the most celebrated enterprise of the era, the quest to reach the North Pole. He had become the partner of Robert Peary, whose dream of planting the American flag at the top of the world was an obsession since childhood. First chosen to accompany Peary as his manservant, Matt proved himself so indispensable that he soon became his assistant. Their attempts at the Pole continued for eighteen years, Matt the only man to return time after time on Peary’s expeditions, becoming as obsessed as his Commander.

As the years passed and Peary had not made good on his promise to make America first among nations in the race to the Pole, much of the public grew tired of his pronouncements of imminent success. The two men and their crew return home three days after Frederick Cook’s announcement of having reached the Pole first. Cook, a young doctor, was on Peary’s first expedition in the north, and the two men had their differences. Now, much of the public is inclined to believe Cook’s claim of beating his rival. The country is “polarized” between the two.

No longer was Matt the most celebrated man in Harlem. Only his wife, Lucy stands by him as he is ridiculed as Peary’s dupe and must wait for vindication. Constrained from speaking on hisown behalf, Matt becomes moody and reclusive and starts drinking out of frustration and the sense of betrayal he feels from Peary, as well as his own people.

He is haunted by dreams of past events in his early life and the frozen north. He longs for the discarded friendship with the only brother he ever had. But Peary has no more use of the only man to ever stick by him, and through the current controversy, forbids Matt to speak out.
Only William Brady, a brash and flamboyant promoter and pioneer Broadway theatrical producer, seeks Matt out as a potential attraction on the lecture circuit. If Brady knows his public, a “Negro At The North Pole” is a sure-fire sellout with both whites and blacks at the box-office.

Brady battles with Matt to get him to speak, but Matt is reluctant — his are secrets that he feels prevent the idea of public speaking — secrets his wife Lucy suspects, and those Peary’s wife, Jo, is harboring. Enlisting Lucy Henson to assist him in getting Matt to agree to profit from his experiences in the north, William Brady himself learns the hard way that America is not yet ready for the latest of his daring theatrical events.

Is the public willing to hear Matt’s story? Is he willing to gamble and talk to save his dwindling reputation among his own race?

Poles Apart is a drama in two acts that explores through Flashbacks, anecdotes and storytelling, the little-known conflicts of an American hero relegated to the shadows of
history, almost as ignored today as he was in his lifetime. It is based on fact and imagination, employing sound, lights and language that offers a mosaic of Matthew Henson, the man who tried, was tried, and the man who did.

        

                                      “For Want of a Hero                                         a one man play

Actor Harold Hainsley has created his own one-man tribute to FDR, his hero and a model for his own struggles to overcome polio disability. As a disabled activist and advocate, Harold, soon after being afflicted at nine, read, watched old newsreels, and learned everything he could on America’s hero president. All these years later, after all his attempts in showbiz, Harold is about to perform his tribute. Despite his crutches and wheelchair upstage, Harold is the model of the self-assured and self-made man.Regaling the audience with his personal struggles to become the man before them, Harold draws parallels between himself and his hero FDR in what the both of them have endured through their mutual affliction. Harold, like Roosevelt was, is polio disabled. Though born many years after his hero’s death, he read all he could on FDR and his struggles to overcome the affliction that struck him at age 39, just as he was within grasp of the biggest prize of his political career. Harold is at once nostalgic, humorous and heartbreaking in his storytelling, speaking as himself, and mimicking, among other characters in his life, FDR and his speeches.

We learn of Harold’s heartbreaks in love, and how he grew a cold detachment from the pain of a cruel society as he grew up. He learned early on that a quick wit and having more on the ball than the “normals” helped to cover all feelings of inadequacies. He takes us through his years as a college student, discovering acting, then later in New York in the Seventies, struggling to make it on the stage. It soon became apperant that he was a gifted stand-up, and was apart of the comedy club scene. He performs some of his best material as part of his one-man show.

Relating his story along with that of FDR’s, there is a strange tension and edginess to Harold. We have the feeling that he is working up to a more important issue that he needs to address. There is more to his story and to his feelings about the charming man in the White House who saved the world during its darkest hours.

Harold finally brings himself to reveal what he’s suppresed all these years, His gut-wrenching revelation relates a shameful episode in FDR’s presidency. One that Harold’s father never forgave when forbade him from ever mentioning the president’s name in his house, and now Harold was involuntarily admitting to himself in front of the audience. It is devastating to him, and a shocking revelation to those who have never heard of this sad chapter of American history.

                      The Robert Johnson Project                                  (in development)                MISTER H.C. SPEARS EXPLAINS THE BLUES "My boys were the best blues boys recorded personally by me." -H.C. Spears
Long before any of the blues 'aficionados' went south and backwoods America to record and make a'record' of authentic 'folk' stuff, one H.C. Spears bitterly reminds us how he was 'the first' to appreciate the raw artistry of the local black blues hollerin' and guitar-pickin' boys' he put on record on his recording device in the back room of his general store.

                     “Come Sit With Me”                        A 'Master Class’ Short Play with Music
                    (in development)

                       Marilyn and Ella at the Macambo Club

On the eve of  Marilyn’s first movie musical roles (“How To Marry A Millionaire” & “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds”) where she has to sing, her singing coach urges her to listen to Ella’s Gershwin recordings at least 100 times! 

On taking the opportunity to see Ella live at the famed Macambo Club in LA for a brief run, so further impressed was Marilyn that she promised the club owner she would every night Ella was booked—which increased Ella’s exposure to  more high-end fair and the end of ‘chitlin circuit’ bookings.