Tameka's Introduction to Theatre
I met Tameka Cage-Conley when I went to the weekend intensive at Cornerstone Theatre in February. I walked in an hour late, after I ended up getting lost and walking all over LA, so even though she was in the first group I was part of, I spent most of the time staring at her silver seuined beret and trying to catch my breath and calm my nerves. To be honest, I was a little intimidated by her at first, as I usually am by really tall women, but out of everyone I got to know her best over the next two days of workshops, stories, and story circles, and when the weekend was over we did the Facebook thing. I left my weekend at Cornerstone hoping for two things: that I could bring what I learned ther back to Halcyon in a way that would help us grow as a company, and that someday I would be able to call Tameka a really great friend. The first is a lot easier, of course- I don't presume to think that you can develop a really great friendship on the old FB, but I can tell you this- She's lovely. I hope you enjoy getting to know her just as much as I did.
Within a year, I was in the office of Shay Wafer, then Vice President of Programming at the August Wilson Center, now Executive Director of 651 Arts in Brooklyn. When I realized I wanted to write a play rooted in and based on the stories and lives of African American men and boys in Pittsburgh, I contacted Shay. Never mind that I was a poet, fiction writer, and freelance journalist who’d never written a play. I believed I could do it and Shay had the heart to listen. She said other conversations would follow our first, and that she was pleased to meet someone with the skill set and passion to do a project she had already conceived. This, too, is part of the city of Pittsburgh. With roots in working class struggle, the city, though flawed in many ways—particularly in socio-economic disparity and education policy for African Americans and the poor—will support you when you put your hand to the plow as an artist.
Read the whole thing here.