Artistic Evolution at Fisk University

Fisk Professor Persephone Felder-Fentress and playwright Sekou Writes.

On March 11 & 12, Brown Boy Mad, a play by Sékou Writes, enjoyed its debut as a fully directed play at Fisk University. Best described as a choreopoem, Brown Boy Madincorporates elements of film, song, poetry and even the perspectives of the student actors themselves in an attempt to describe some of the author’s real-life interactions with race and microaggressions in “post-racial” America.

The performance, which featured students from Fisk University’s theatre appreciation class, garnered a great turnout. This full production version of the play was directed by veteran actress, director and Fisk drama professor Persephone Felder-Fentress. The play was written by award-winning blogger, journalist, author, and jewelry designer Sékou Writes, who splits his time between New York and Nashville.

The performance utilized the talents of nine Fisk students on stage plus several more behind the scenes. The event was free and open to the public. 100% of the donations collected were donated back to the Fisk Stagecrafters. One of Sekou’s Morehouse College brothers, Konson Patton, donated his time to create music for a song in the play entitled “Blessed,” which was co-created by Regina Calloway and Sekou Writes.

“I’m amazed at how much the play has evolved,” said Sekou about the new performance. “It’s so much bigger – and better – than I ever imagined.”

Fisk Professor Persephone Felder-Fentress and playwright Sekou Writes.

Sekou Writes was one of three writer-performers in a spoken word theater production that was featured in the 2003 New York International Fringe Festival. After that journey ended, Sekou wrote a derivative script for a one-man show, but he never produced it and the project was shelved. In November of 2019, after seeing the return of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf at The Public Theater, Sekou unearthed the script, rewrote it, renamed it BROWN BOY MAD, and introduced it to Blackboard Plays, a New York-based nonprofit which connects playwrights with actors who can breathe life into their work. Encouraged, Sekou rewrote the script again and brought it with him to Nashville.

In January of 2020, after Sekou completed a couple of lectures about Internal Alchemy (converting racial rage into creative energy) at Fisk University, Professor Persephone Felder-Fentress granted him permission to become an unofficial artist-in-residence at Fisk to develop his play with the help of the Fisk University Stagecrafters. The result was a staged reading of Brown Boy Mad in Fisk University’s Little Theater on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020 — the same day and month that Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012. You can watch that full staged reading (48 ½ minutes) free on You Tube at YouTube/sekouwrites

Sekou Writes technically lives in New York City, but he frequently travels to Nashville to visit his mom and aunt, who are both Fiskites. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from New School University. Sekou has been featured as a guest on many podcasts, radio shows and TV shows including Nightline, The Today Show and WGBH’s Basic Black. For more information about the play and the playwright please visit www.sekouwrites.com.

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