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    Posted April 3, 2007

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It Takes a Village- Sharing our Stories

It was a filled beyond capacity crowd that gathered in Los Angeles on March 5th as the Western Region EEO Committee in conjunction with the Hollywood Screen Actors Guild EEO Committee presented "It Takes a Village- Sharing our Stories" in honor of Black History Month. There was much laughter, uproarious applause and at least three standing ovations throughout the evening as both Equity and SAG members joined together to hear distinguished artists share their war stories and insight. The panelists included Directors Albert Alarr and Oz Scott; Artistic Director of the Robey Theatre Company and Actor, Ben Guillory; Casting Director, Twinkie Byrd; Actor, Karole Foreman: Actor, Director, Producer Ron Glass and Actor and Playwright, Charlayne Woodard. The moderator for the evening was Actor and Director, .

Oz Scott, Artistic Director of the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Film and TV Conference, began his career in the theatre at Arena Stage as the manager of Living Stage. He worked as a Stage Manager for Joseph Papp at the Public Theatre and subsequently staged and moved to Broadway the smash hit "For Colored Girls . . ." He learned to always ask the question- "Where do you come from? . . . What are you doing?" He stressed how important it was to reinvent oneself as an artist- "this is who I am today." The greatest gifts that he has received in all of his years as a director has been "the hearts and souls of the actors I have worked with."

Charlayne Woodard, who received her training at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, shared the hilarious story of the inspiration of her first one woman show- "Pretty Fire" She was invited to a church retreat with three hundred women and decided to simply tell a story of her grandmother. The response was overwhelming- many women rushed up to her- "I have this aunt . . . I have this sister . . . that's my mother!" Within a few months, she was performing at a 75 seat theatre in Santa Monica and was requested to present twenty minutes of material as a possibility for their next production. "Well, they threw me the keys to the theatre! Charlayne- you start in two weeks, you rehearse for five weeks and you run for six." She stressed- "If you don't like something in this business, change it. Or if you can't change it, change the way you feel about it."

Every member of the panel echoed the theme of the evening- share your own story- create your own projects, generate your own work and take charge of your own career. In keeping with that, the evening featured performances by artists who had done just that- all of the plays represented have performed successfully in the Los Angeles area and a few have toured throughout the southland.

"Weights"- written and performed by Lynn Manning, directed by Robert Eagan; "Beneath Rippling Water"- written and preformed by , directed by Gregg Daniel and "The Bow Wow Club"- written by Levy Lee Simon and performed by Levy Lee Simon, John Marshall Jones, Nancy Cheryl Davis, Freedom Williams, Lyn Rosfand, Addie Daddio and directed by Dan Martin.

Special thanks to the members of the Western Region EEO Committee for their sponsorship of the March 5th event- "It Takes A Village-Sharing our Stories." They are : Paul Ainsley, Wilson Bell, Nancy Daly, Penelope Darcel, Nina Diamante, Kyle Keller, Pat Loeb, E.P. McKnight, Kathlyn Miles, Jermel Nakia, Barbara Roberts, Marcia Rodd, Clarinda Ross, Deborah Sharpe-Taylor, Jennifer Shelton, Felicia Taylor, Dan Tullis and Mark Winn. They were assisted in this phenomenally successful event by the Western Region Office Staff- in particular- Michael VanDuzer, Richard Ostlund, Richard Colucci, Sam Ambler, Timothy Smith and Kathey Wilson and the support of Mary Lou Westerfield and Steve DiPaola."







 
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