Alright. Here's the deal: I'm sick of being broke. While I'm extremely thankful for my position at the University and for having a steady income, this whole 8-5 thing is for the birds. So after doing some brainstorming with my friends Greg and Joslyn, I've decided to write my own play.
Before you ask, no I don't have any experience in the theatre. I didn't study fine arts in college and I've only been to handful of plays in my life. But as I've learned from examining Tyler Perry's ridiculously popular plays or the nonsense that B.E.T. airs everyday, I'm convinced that I don't need a shred of talent in order to appeal (and profit off of) a certain segment of consuming Black Americans. While Perry's work in the arts is pretty insipid, stereotypical, bland, and mind-numbing; let's face facts: one thing it is not is a bad business. His plays are cash cows that are able to generate mad loot in an undersaturated theatre market that is all but extinct. On one hand, many criticis are quick to indicate that Perry's plays have turned back the progress black folks have made during great artistic movements like the Harlem Renaissance; and I tend to agree. Tyler Perry is no James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, or August Wilson. But, damn it to hell if this dude isn't still making a fortune. I mean, you've got people dropping good money (sometimes as much as 40-50 bucks a pop) to see one of his plays. I won't even start with how much his play-converted movies make at the box office. Like him or not, the dude has tapped into a money-making market.
So in the interest of making a bunch of money without having to be too innovative, I've decided to write a Black Gospel play. Here are the roles I plan on casting for my first production of "Momma, Put That Cornbread Down and Sing!":
- The Momma: What would a black Gospel play be without your hymn-singing, soul food cookin' momma? She has to be the matriach of the family; since these plays will have you thinking that the father is never around. A devout church-goer with a heart as large as her girth, the Momma can always be relied on to impart knowledge, sing the right Gospel song at any moment, and throw down in the kitchen.
- The Daughter/wife: The daughter has to be a dedicated and faithful wife who somehow lands with the wrong man. Though she's beautiful and loving, she must be a doormat who is frequently and gutlessly subjected to the antics of her successful, yet abusive and cheating husband. She finds comfort and strength in the closeness of family and the blue-collar brotha with whom she will eventually fall in love.
- The trifflin' husband: No Black Gospel play would be complete without the antagonist husband. The husband must be insanely successful (i.e. the number one trial lawyer in a major city or a hotshot Wall Street banker). His success has blinded him to the true richness that he has in the shape of his wife's love. He has to be evil, callous, and controlling. To make his character even less appealing (if that's even possible) he has to be involved in an affair with a money-grubbing white woman (GASP!)
- The blue-collared love: This brotha is usually about defying the odds of lower-class black men finding true love. Though he isn't rich, powerful, or affluent like the daughter/wife's husband, he has the passion and love that seems to be missing from the wife's marriage. People will question the financially unreasonable decisions the wife makes to be with him. But at the end, true love prevails.
- The gay hairdresser: Since the daughter/wife has to be 'beautiful', we should expect to see her in the beauty salon pretty often. So cue the gay hairdresser. His homosexuality is as blatant as George Bush's stupidity. Donning a pink scarf, hazel brown contact lenses, and lip gloss; the gay hairdresser is quick to offer his two cents into the discussion. While his gay antics and mannerisms usually provide comic relief, they may also set the stage for some of the actions the daughter/wife will take.
- The church congregation: With this being a black gospel play, you have to include a segment at church. After all, the church is the center of any spiritual development that takes place in the play/movie. This is where the daughter/wife makes the ultimate decision to leave her marriage. This is where the daughter/wife and the husband reconcile their differences. This is where the estranged and rebellious teen opens up to his/her concerned and praying grandmother. Among the cast of characters at the church are the deacons, the elders (often wearing dresses with flower print and ridiculously large hats), the 10 member choir whose "A and B selections" stirs up the emotions in the scene, and -- of course -- the pimped-out preacher.
- The sage grandmother: If the mother is not strong enough to be the stand-alone beacon of hope, you can expect a cameo appearance from the ever-so-wise grandmother. This role will have to played by someone who has a long and storied legacy in black history; someone who will validate the play by being involved -- if only for a few scenes. People like Maya Angelou, Della Reese, Cicely Tyson, and Ruby Dee all come to mind.