Kuumba Players at Mary Baldwin University has been signifyin’ and talkin’ dat talk since spring 2000 when then-freshman Tonquise Jabari ’03 proposed a creative outlet for African American students interested in theatre. Jabari became president of the group – named Kuumba for the Swahili word for creativity. One of Kuumba’s early members, Monet Watkins ’05 will direct and present her original work, Talkin’ Dat Talk, Friday-Saturday, March 11-12 at 8 p.m. in a new format at the college: dessert theatre.
Watkins’ work tells a story about inconsistencies that race can create in society. It is a play filled with memorable vignettes that portray situations encountered by African American women from different generations. “The purpose of this play is to get people talking about the schisms that still exist within society’s framework, and to question why we do the things we do,” Watkins said.
Kareema Mays ’05 narrates the show as the character May, a woman seen by others as a strong African American role model, and the kind of person others seek out for the straight-up truth. Mays will also portray Mallory, a talk show host – ala Star Jones – who opens the second act with a conversation about why African American men and women are at odds about dating, particularly when black men date Caucasian women.
The cast of characters also includes two older women who grew up during the Civil Rights era, a strong businesswoman, a man who dates Caucasian women, a man who dates only African American women, a Caucasian woman who dates African American men, and college roommates. In addition to Kareema Mays, actors include freshmen Barbara Jackson, Jessica Johnson, Danielle Petway, Shenequa Jackson, and sophomores Shannon Perry and Molly Starks.
Kuumba Players has been performing African American folktales and original works by Jabari and Watkins for five years. They rely on the generosity of other organizations for costumes, set pieces and props, including the college’s Office of African American and Multicultural Affairs, Mary Baldwin Theatre, and Waynesboro Players.
In this first dessert theatre offering, the ticket price includes homemade sweet potato pie and other traditional African American sweets. Starbucks coffee, sodas, and smoothies will be available for an additional cost. Tickets may be purchased on evenings of performance in the Nuthouse in Lyda B. Hunt Dining Hall at Mary Baldwin University — $3 for Mary Baldwin students and $5 for others. Please note: This play is not suitable for children.
For more information: call Communications, Marketing, and Public Affairs at Mary Baldwin University, (540) 887-7009.