Director and playwright Harold Ellis Clark, of Gretna, recently held a staged reading of his new play, “Uncle Bobby ’63,” at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans. The play was directed by John Grimsley, who also directed Clark’s 2012 award-winning play, “Fishers of Men.”
“Uncle Bobby ‘63” is a drama mystery set in Algiers during the civil rights era. It’s inspired by a true incident in 1958 in which Clark’s father, the Rev. Harold E. Clark Sr., pastor of Greater St. John Baptist Church in Barataria, and a friend survived a horrible beating by Ku Klux Klansmen in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The play surrounds three young civil rights workers with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, who deal with a life-threatening situation in mid-December 1963.
“When writing, I attempt to capture and ultimately convey as much emotion from the characters as possible,” Clark said. “My father and his friend were conflicted after the incident, questioning if violence or nonviolence was the best manner in which to continue the quest for freedom.”
The play is a compelling look at one evening, played out almost in real time, that explores the philosophies of the civil rights movement from two points of view: a violent or nonviolent response to hatred. It does so through the eyes of three young people trapped in a life-threatening situation. The play takes viewers on a ride that is both gripping and compelling, all the way to its tragically realistic ending.
The cast includes Constance Thompson (Zenobia), Denzel Johnson (Dwight), Will Bowling (Joseph), Frederick “Hollywood” Delahoussaye (Uncle Bobby), and Damien Moses (Ike).
Earlier this year, Clark was selected as a finalist in Memphis, Tennessee’s Playhouse on the Square, a professional theater’s playwriting competition.
He was named one of two winners of 2013 New Works@The Works Playwriting Competition for his play “We Live Here,” about a black couple from New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward who wins a brand new home in an all-white neighborhood and discovers their “dream come true” is too good to be true.
POTS will produce the play’s world premiere January 2-25, 2015, at Theaterworks, its third performance space.
Last year, he won UpStage Theatre Company’s Emerging Playwright Project Award for his play “Fishers of Men” and was honored at The Players in Manhattan, New York, as one of two finalists for the 56th annual Stanley Drama Award for his play “Tour Detour.” He’s been a finalist and semifinalist in several other playwriting competitions, including being named a semifinalist in 2013 and 2014 for the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference for “Tour Detour” and “We Live Here.”
Clark was unaware the staged reading of the play marked the 50th anniversary of the murders of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He learned this fact only after listening to National Public Radio.
Clark plans to enter his scripts into various national playwriting competitions even though he hopes that a full production of “Uncle Bobby ’63” will premiere in New Orleans.
He says he has a many unpublished novels and unproduced screenplays that he plans to enter into national playwriting competitions.
Robert L. Davison Sr. Community Development
Archer Daniels Midland Company recently donated $1,000 to Robert L. Davison Sr. Community Development in Westwego for the purpose of supporting after-school tutoring services to some of the most at-risk children and youth in Westwego and neighboring communities.
Davison, a retired Jefferson Parish school bus driver, formed the community center and began fulfilling the after-school tutoring and mentoring needs of underprivileged K-12 students, mostly from Westwego, Marrero, Avondale and Gretna.
The tutorial program is open to K-12 students from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday during the school year. Children are referred to the center by teachers and school principals and through newspaper advertisements. Students receive homework help from two certified teachers specializing in literacy and math and are provided with standardized test preparation to assure grade-level promotion.
The tutoring program is utilized by 25 to 30 low-income students per school year at no cost to students or their families. In addition to tutoring services, the center provides a mentoring program that teaches boys ages 8 to 18 self-esteem, improved attitudes and behavior and motivation, reducing their vulnerability to dropping out of school.
The donation was given through ADM Cares. ADM Cares is a social investment program that directs funds to initiatives and organizations that drive meaningful social, economic and environmental progress worldwide.
The program comprises three distinct focus areas: supporting the responsible development of agriculture, improving the quality of life in ADM communities and fostering employee giving and volunteer activities.
Yetoria Lumpkin DeShazier writes about the people and events in Algiers and the West Bank. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (504) 367-0905