(Augusta, GA_- The Paine College Drama Department will present The Black Nativity Remix on Thursday, November 10 and Friday, November 11 at 7:30 p.m. The performance will take place in the Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel's Odeum. The event is open to the public. General admission tickets are $5 and student tickets are $2 with a valid I.D.
The Black Nativity Remix, an original drama with music written by local Paine College professor Dr. Don Cleary and Senior Jennifer Branch. The production was inspired by the well-known Black Nativity play written by Langston Hughes and is an interesting modern day concept to the timeless nativity story.
It’s set in the middle of Harlem, NY in an alley where the birth of Christ seems to be the least likely of places for such incidents to happen. To assist in bringing this remixed tale to life the production has an all star cast of hard working Paineites. Carl Johnson is returning to the Paine College stage to play the role of Joseph while Shavonna Martin, freshman Paineite, hits the Paine College stage for the first time as Mary. The supporting roles of the “Wise Ones,” who search to find the baby Jesus with the help of a GPS, are played by senior drama major Corie Coleman, sophomore Chris Alexander, and junior Roddy McDowell. This production is one of several musicals Paine has seen since Dr Cleary’s arrival ten years ago.
This year is the first year to feature Paine Colleges' own Dancers of David dance team. This production includes efforts from various Greek members on campus and students from many different organizations. One can honestly say that this year's production has pulled on some of the most rare and treasured talents from all over Paine.
About Don Cleary
Don Cleary’s entrance into theatre began directing church and community theatre musicals, and he went on to study graduate acting and playwriting while earning a Ph.D. in Fine Arts at Ohio University. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Drama at Paine College, where he teaches courses in drama and coordinates the undergraduate drama program. He also served also as Coordinator for Mass Communications from 2001-2009. Dr. Cleary not only directs Drama Department productions, but serves “out of necessity” as his own scene/light/sound designer and technical director. Past Paine productions include: Ain’t Misbehaivin, The Piano Lesson, For Colored Girls ..., Colored People’s Time, Mirrors, A Raisin In the Sun, Blue, Antigone, The Colored Museum, The Day of Absence and Mahalia. Previously, Dr. Cleary served as musical director for community and university productions which include Fame, Working, Fiddler on the Roof, Sweeney Todd, Oklahoma, Brigadoon, Gollywhoppers, and Ama and the White Crain. His playwriting prowess led to having one of his plays having been accepted for a professional reading by The Director’s Company of New York City and his recently completed full length play, The Frank Yerby Story, is under consideration by Bepop Collective, a theatre company in Harlem (NYC). He serves as a Regional Responder for the Southeast Region for the American College Theatre Festival and has served the Georgia Theatre Conference as Treasurer and Community Theatre Division, Vice Chair. Cleary's greatest successes are his students—students who have succeed at SETC screening auditions, completed internships at Yale School of Drama, been accepted into the prestigious Williamstown Festival, Savannah College of Art and Design graduate acting program, and the American Music and Drama Academy.
About Jennifer Branch
Co-writer and director of Black Nativity Remix, Jennifer brings a refreshing unorthodox approach to this new twist of a classic. Poet and mother of the cast member “baby Jesus,” Jennifer offers a wisdom and method that could have only been cultivated by God and a genuine love for theatre. As a senior at Paine, Branch has her “eye’s on the prize” of graduation and in making her mark as a notable actor and director. At Paine, Branch played the lead as Mrs. Stevenson in Sorry, Wrong Number, as director for The Chip Woman's Fortune, and as a founding member and past President of the Drama Club. She recently beat out 150 + other actors in screening auditions to advance to the Southeastern Theatre Conference where she will compete for jobs in theatre this Spring. As a future actress, director and author, Branch hopes to not only make her mark in the theatre world but also plans to support Paine's Drama Department that has helped mold her talents into a more perfected craft. As director of this production, she continues to put God first, and when she thinks about the nativity story, she remembers that when God puts his hand on something, he’ll always take care of it, no matter how hard it may seem.
About Natasha Gallop
Music Director, Stage manager, and actor for Black Nativity Remix-- a native of New Jersey and a graduating senior--Natasha Gallop is more than excited about this original piece written and performed by “some of the best characters at Paine”. This will be yet another time Natasha hits the Paine College stage. Past roles include The Lady in Blue in Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls…., Nell in Ain't Misbehavin, and she served as Director for last Fall's production of Zora Neal Hurston's Color Struck. She recently scored in the top 11% of actors in the SETC professional screening auditions at the Georgia Theatre Conference and will this Spring compete for theatre jobs against other actors throughout the Southeast. This senior is shouting to the world “Paine College is here and we are the future” as she encourages her colleagues to make their mark where ever they are and to always remember Paine in their progress. Wearing many hats in this production, she believes in the message and knows the community will be touched.
For more information, contact Office of Communications & Marketing at (706) 396-7591 or Ncarter@paine.edu.