Head Trip is a serious new drama examining an individual journey into oblivion and redemption.
UpStage Theatre chose the freshly written play as winner of its 2nd Annual Emerging Playwright Project.
The lead character, Ambrose, played by Calvin Brasley, emerges in the San Francisco Bay-area as a musician of prodigious vocal talent. Instead of nurturing his ability, however, Ambrose shackles his musical gifts in favor of his vices, which include abusing alcohol and drug.
While drafting this new drama, playwright Albert Cowart Jr. said he found inspiration studying many talented individuals who oftentimes had meandering journeys to a end.
“I would look at these people and ask myself: ?What got them here?’” Cowart said.
“I hear many different stories: good to bad; bad to good; success and failures. I see how people’s vices kept them from reaching their potential,” said Cowart, who is on the theater and drama faculty at Los Angeles Southwest College.
Ambrose’s central issue represents a common thread in most of humanity. Ambrose views other characters around him - not himself - as the root cause blunting him from succeeding as an emerging musician on the scene.
“The supporting characters both enable his destructive behavior, and later prove instrumental in his journey towards self-reflection,” Cowart said.
The relationship of Ambrose’s wife, Emelia (Krystal Blatcher), and his mother, Madalyn (Telisha Diza), ratchets up the dramatic tension because the two relatives view very differently the trajectory of Ambrose’s life.
“The mother (Madalyn) believes Emelia (wife) keeps Ambrose from reaching his full potential,” Cowart said.
Ambrose receives his first interpretation from local UpStage actor Calvin Brasley, who initially viewed Ambrose as a daunting character.
“This was a very serious script - a real life story,” Brasley said.
“The writing really gets you ?into a zone,’ and Ambrose comes to life for me.”
Ava Brewster-Turner, founder and executive artistic director of UpStage, said she has been thrilled with the growth and potential of the annual Emerging Playwright Project.
“This script (Head Trip) had very different characters, yet the theme of this play very much was in keeping with the theme of this project: ?Living, Loving, Learning,’” Brewster-Turner said.
“We are getting to meet with emerging playwrights from all over. So we are so excited over its development and our involvement in showcasing new work.”
Brewster-Turner said Head Trip was selected among six finalists by UpStage committee members attached to the emerging playwright project.
Cowart will appear for a talk-back seminar with the audience following the end of evening performances Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10.
The audience-author discussion will be moderated by cognitive behavioral consultant Jackie Mims, the director said.
CAST: Calvin Brasley, Ambrose; Tony Leverett, understudy; Krystal Blatcher, Emelia; Telisha Diza, Madalyn; Latoya Butler, Loretta; David Sylvester, Donovan
ARTISTIC STAFF: Ava Brewster-Turner, director; Lea Brown, stage manager