THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE
Written by Lydia R. Diamond
April 3rd through May 2nd, 2010
(L-R) Wayne DeHart, Kendrick Brown, Robert Marshall, Rachael Logue, Estella Henderson. STICK FLY is showing at the Ensemble Theatre through May 2nd, 2010. Photo courtesy of the Ensemble Theatre.
Time: Over Three Days
Place: The Home of the LeVays
*Member of Actor’s Equity
A STUDY OF SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS
The Ensemble Theatre Production of STICK FLY
Interview with Actor’s Equity Member Wayne DeHart
By Theresa Pisula
April 8th, 2010
Houston, Texas USA
Wayne DeHart was last seen in the 2008 movie THE LONGSHOTS starring Ice Cube and Keke Palmer (of Akeelah & the Bee fame). THE LONGSHOTS is the true story of Jasmine Plummer played by Keke, who at the age of eleven became the first female to play in Pop Warner football tournament as a quarterback in the local team Minden Browns. THE LONGSHOTS is directed by Limp Bizkit rock star Fred Durst and is produced by Ice Cube who plays Jasmine’s uncle Curtis Plummer. Mr. DeHart played Mr. Peppers and the scene with Ice Cube went like this:
Mr. Peppers: What are you running from?
Curtis Plummer: I ain’t running.
Mr. Peppers: I know runnin’ when I see one. You’re too young to be feeling sorry for yourself; too old to be this damn stupid. You need to get yourself out of this park, boy!
Wayne DeHart has been in several movies and TV shows in a highly admirable career that spans the last few decades. He is a familiar face and has been seen in Prison Break, American Gothic and Walker, Texas Ranger TV episodes. He was in the 1990 movie RoboCop 2, Jason’s Lyric from 1994 with Jada Pinkett Smith, the 1997 movie The Apostle starring Robert Duvall, Farrah Fawcett and Billy Bob Thornton, and The Second Coming from 2007. He starred in a memorable 2003 film called ROSE’S where he played Willyum, a recently paroled murderer who is asked by a timid florist named Rose to help dispose of her debt-ridden and deceitful husband. ROSE’S won the Gold Award in the 1999 Houston International WorldFest Film Festival as well as three other Film Festival Awards. Mr. DeHart also shared a scene with Oscar award winning actress Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey in the John Grisham blockbuster movie A TIME TO KILL.
Wayne: Why do you want to talk to me?
Theresa: (Laughs) I’m actually very excited. I’ve seen you on TV and movies lots of times. The most recent movie is called THE LONGSHOTS. You always play the homeless guy in these movies, right?
Wayne: I’m the king of the homeless guys. There was an AD who came to me during the shooting of that movie. We shot most of it out of the football stadium in Minden, Louisiana, just outside of Shreveport. So you know, I eat my lunch and sit out in the stands, smoking my cigar before everybody got back to shooting. The AD comes to me one day and he says, “Wayne, man let me tell you the kind of job you’re doing on this show. There are some women out there who are taking up a collection for you because they think you’re really homeless.” So that’s what they got (laughs).
Wayne: I always get these characters that have all this wisdom that have no home and sometimes they don’t have a name.
Theresa: What is it like working with Ice Cube?
Wayne: He had enough recognition to realize that he was in the presence of a real actor. And he basically just…they wanted us to rehearse the scene. We got to the fence where we we’re doing the close-up scene. I would lean forward. He stopped and said, “Wayne, every time you lean, my big head would block all the light.” And I said, “Well, we can’t have your big head blocking the light…”
Theresa: (Laughs) that’s funny. You were also in a movie with Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey called A TIME TO KILL.
Wayne: Samuel Jackson wasn’t in my scene. They flew me in and I did a one-day shoot. I think my scene was actually with Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey. My character owns a restaurant that they had lunch in.
Theresa: Tell us about the part that you’re playing in STICK FLY. You’re not a homeless guy here…you’re the patriarch.
Wayne: That’s the opposite, he’s a millionaire. I play a neurosurgeon whose name is Dr. Joseph LeVay. Actually, he wasn’t born into money, he married into it. His wife’s family came into the inheritance of the land and the house because a relative of hers saved somebody’s life. I happen to marry her and she had all the money. But as a neurosurgeon, I pull my own weight. I have a little money.
Theresa: How did you choose to become a part of this play?
Wayne: I was looking at the schedule to see what they had on the list for Ensemble Theatre…
Theresa: You were in Seven Guitars…
Wayne: Eileen (Morris, Artistic Director of Ensemble Theatre) will generally call me and tell me what roles realistically are available for me.
Theresa: And so you just look at the list and pick whatever part you want to play? (Laughs)
Wayne: No…Eileen will call me and say, “I want you to do this role…” She doesn’t ever tell me I’m gonna give you the role. In this one, she has cast everyone except my character Dr. LeVay. Actually I wasn’t totally, totally impressed with the character. It wasn’t one of the urban or voodoo characters that I’ve always played. So then, Eileen will tell me when to come to audition. I’ll audition and she’ll let me know whether or not I get the part.
Theresa: How long ago when this came about?
Wayne: Maybe two weeks before we started the rehearsal process.
Theresa: No way! I thought they cast the show last summer, months and months before.
Wayne: They did cast the whole show, every role but my role.
Theresa: I’m sure it’s because you’re such a long-standing professional…
Wayne: Eileen told me, “I had to make sure you’re within the budget and to get you a Union contract…” We all kept saying, “No, you’re waiting on somebody from out of town. That’s what you’re waiting on…”
Theresa: (Laughs) you were hired two weeks before rehearsal. When did rehearsal for STICK FLY start?
Wayne: About six weeks ago…
Theresa: You memorized all your lines by then? Wow, that’s such a short period of time to prepare for the major role.
Wayne: Oh yeah. Not totally all of them (laughs) but I was aware…
Theresa: You must ad lib a lot…
Wayne: No, no, I really don’t. I’ve been blamed for that a lot. Well, okay sometimes (laughs). It depends on the job.
Theresa: Are you gonna ad lib tonight (laughs)?
Wayne: I haven’t planned on it.
Theresa: How do you memorize all those lines so fast? You’ve been doing this a long time.
Wayne: It’s a process, you know. It’s like a computer, if you put information into a computer, it processes.
Theresa: A highly intelligent computer. You’re probably the most intelligent homeless guy I know…
Wayne: Well, no. I read the script all the time. You know when I go to the toilet, I read. When I go sit down, I read. When I’m riding in somebody’s car, I read. Whenever I can, you know, I just get up and start reading. I fall asleep reading it, go take a nap, get up and start reading it again.
(L-R) Wayne DeHart and Estella Henderson. STICK FLY is showing at the Ensemble Theatre through May 2nd, 2010. Photo courtesy of the Ensemble Theatre.
Theresa: Were you born in Houston?
Wayne: No. I was actually born in Jonesville, South Carolina. My father is from Navasota, Texas but he worked here in Houston. I was actually born in the back porch. I had to make an entrance good (laughs).
Theresa: You never made it to the hospital? Why couldn’t they take you?
Wayne: Where we lived was pretty rural and I think the next hospital, particularly for the Negroes at the time, would have been twenty-some odd miles away.
Theresa: How long ago was this?
Theresa: You were born in S. Carolina. Where did you grow up?
Wayne: Kinda sketchy…I actually went to nursery school here in Houston, from kindergarten to 3rd grade. In my 4th grade, I went to S. Carolina, by the 5th grade I went to New York up through Junior High. My mom and dad divorced. One summer, it was the year of the World’s Fair in New York and my dad said he was gonna take me and my brother back down to Texas for the summer. And we never went back.
Theresa: Are you a New York trained actor?
Wayne: No, I was not thinking about acting at the time. At the very least, I used to play out this scenario of what my life was gonna be. I wanted to go to Syracuse University. I wanted to be a journalist. I was even toying with the ministry for a while but I cuss too much to be a pastor (laughs). I wanted to go into politics but I’m too honest to be a politician.
Theresa: When did you decide to be an actor?
Wayne: At Sterling High School here in Houston as they were filling out my schedule. They said, “You could take Speech and Drama or Home Economics.” And I thought - I ain’t taking home economics. So I took Speech and Drama but I wasn’t really interested. You know, the class was full of a lot of homosexual guys. So I said, uh-uh I don’t want anything to do with that.
Theresa: So you’re not a homosexual…
Wayne: No, no. I did not want to be associated…whatsoever. I didn’t even want to go where they kept the scripts. It was in a closet and they would gather. And I would not even go in the closet, okay? Hey, I don’t play that, man…
Theresa: (Laughs)…not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Wayne: But at the time, I had this huge afro. If you go back and look at the high school class picture now, you can see this little dot with the big black afro hair. The teacher goes, “We need you to take somebody’s place at a speech tournament.” I didn’t know if I could study anything. They were doing Androcles and the Lion and they told me they needed somebody to be the Lion. So I said, “…oh, the lion? Cool, I can work that…”
Theresa: because you had this big mane of an afro…
Wayne: Yeah, yeah, I did have this voice then, too. So I got out of school early. I actually met a girl I started going steady with that day at the speech tournament. I said, “I like this…you get out of school early, you get to meet other women. I like this.”
Theresa: How did that parlay into Hollywood?
Wayne: It was something I was going to do. Actually my father and I had actual fist fights about me going to speech tournaments. It would be like for two days and I had a job working at a Box company on McCowan road (over there by Telephone road). If you go to the speech tournament on a Friday and if you made it to the semi-finals, you have to come back Saturday. My father and I had fist fights on how I should be on the job and working and stuff instead of foolin’ around with this acting stuff, you know?
I just decided, I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I think this is something I was meant to do. We got out of high school and one of the guys who is the technical director here right now, we came out together. We saw an ad in the paper one day about auditions for a play called JB. We didn’t know nuthin’ about it, we thought maybe it was about James Brown (laughs). So we go - we’re the only two black people there, maybe with other 150 to 200 people. The play is actually about the Book of Job. It’s about a peanut vendor, a popcorn salesman as they decide to take on God and the devil. They test and re-try man all over again. So we try for the role. And true enough, I get the phone call and they said, “I want you to play the part of the devil.” And I’m like, “Why do I have to be the devil? Why can’t I be God?” This guy I’ve never met before kind of grew irate. He explained, “You have this subtle body language, because of the way you move, the way the devil moves.” I said, Okay I like that, I like that (laughs). It was cool. I found out everybody likes the bad guy.
So, I got that part. And then, we did another play here called West Memphis Mo Joe and these two agents came to see the show. They actually came to see somebody else who was in the show. After the show one of them asks me, “Could I be your agent?” I said, “Sure…” so I started going out and auditioning and things kind of just fell into place.
Theresa: So how did you get to Hollywood from Houston?
Wayne: Well, I guess, one thing might have been when I did Jason’s Lyric. They shot most of it here in Houston. There’s a scene they had to add. They ended up firing (or she quit or something) the actress who played the mother. So, they needed somebody to…I was like the street preacher then, he was used as a narrator in a Greek chorus thing. Every time there was a change in the script, I would come on and do one of these sermons. So he needed me to come and make up a sermon about LOVE to replace the mother scene in the movie. So they brought me out there to L. A. for that.
Theresa: Wow. They brought you from Houston to L. A. for this role? And then you were in a movie called A TIME TO KILL…
Wayne: Yeah, that was in Jackson Mississippi where we shot that.
Theresa: How many years are we talking about? This is a lot of years, like decades of work…
Wayne: I did my first film in 1985.
Theresa: In Ensemble Theatre’s STICK FLY, you play the father. Are you in most of the scenes?
Wayne: Maybe half of them…
Theresa: What would you like to say to the Houston-theatre going audience about STICK FLY?
Wayne: It’s definitely one of the most contemporary pieces we’ve done at the Ensemble Theatre. We generally do period pieces out of the ‘50s, ‘60s or ‘70s. This is a very contemporary piece. It’s really kind of different too because I’m surrounded by…I probably have more years of experience than all the cast put together. So, I kind of know that my role here to is to take the responsibility. Thank God I’ve got the experience and now I have to pass it on so I try to pass them something on. You know, it’s cool. It’s great to say that I’ve gotten to this point. Back in the day, I never even thought anybody would care what I thought about (laughs)…theatre or whatever.
Theresa: (Laughs). Thank you for talking to me. Congratulations on your wonderful career. It’s an honor.
Wayne: Thank you.
Artistic Director of The Ensemble Theatre EILEEN J. MORRIS
STICK FLY Presented by the Ensemble Theatre
Interview with Artistic Director Eileen J. Morris
By Theresa Pisula
April 8th, 2010
Houston, Texas USA
Eileen J. Morris is the Artistic Director for the Ensemble Theatre. She is also the Director for STICK FLY, one of the plays she has chosen for the Ensemble Theatre’s 2010 season. STICK FLY is the story about the LeVays, an affluent African American family who have gathered in their vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard. Dr. LeVay, a respected neurosurgeon and hopeless philanderer has two sons: one that has followed in his footsteps, and the other, who is a struggling novelist. Each son brings along his girlfriend to meet the family for the first time, resulting in confrontations about race, the economy and politics. The family ties rapidly unravel as tensions rise when secrets are revealed. Through lively exchanges and simmering wit, they tackle the challenges of family life and the changing world around them.
Here are Eileen Morris’s notes as the Director of STICK FLY as published on the Ensemble Theatre’s Playbill on April, 2010:
Family. Exactly what does that mean to you? I think of family and my mind immediately goes to my childhood: living in the country, raising chickens, cows, and hogs; playing in the snow, sledding down the hill with my brothers and ice skating in the pond; going to school at the only Catholic grade and high school in the Kankakee area. Knowing that my mom and dad were striving to give us all that we needed and most of what we wanted. My parents gave me the tools to assist me in being the person that I am today. What about you?
Well, the LeVays are a family with human dynamics, issues, and concerns that affect their day to day lives, much like yours and mine. Their conversations about race, class and privilege are the norm for this family as they continue to explore the realms of revelation. How they are able to handle it and deal with the truth remains to be seen. But what we do know is that – “If you don’t make a decision, life will make one for you.”
Theresa: What is it about STICK FLY that you have chosen it for the Ensemble Theatre’s 2010 Season?
Eileen: The story. To me, the story always drives my first choice in what I choose to play, how it will be challenging to our audience and how it will be inviting and engaging and educational for our audiences. I think that STICK FLY is special because of its subject matter, because it deals with an affluent African American family in Martha’s Vineyard. It’s also a contemporary play. We don’t always do a lot of contemporary plays, maybe one or so a year. So those are the things that drew me to the test.
Theresa: In your own words, please tell us what it’s about…
Eileen: STICK FLY is a story of an affluent family. The father and mother have two sons. One son is a plastic surgeon, the dad is a neurosurgeon and the other son is a writer. They bring their girlfriends to the family summer home in Martha’s Vineyard. They do this every year. All kinds of secrets unfold and new and engaging activities happen when this family comes together. It’s about camaraderie, the sense of family time, the sense of discovery, of new things with each other. The ways that stories have laid dormant for many years comes to fold.
Theresa: How did you know about this play?
Eileen: I heard about this play because it originated out of Chicago. I’m from Chicago. It was first done in Congo Square Theatre in Chicago and the playwright and I have similar people that we know so that’s how I heard about it. The playwright Lydia R. Diamond is friends with another friend that I’m very close to and they shared with me the work that she has been doing. As well as the fact that the play STICK FLY is being done all over the country. I mean, it just finished its run at the Arena Theatre in Washington, DC. There are many places that are doing this play, so it’s my job as Artistic Director to kind of keep up with that activity. I’ve known of Lydia Diamond’s work for about 4 years. Since I got back to Ensemble Theatre about four years ago and found out about her work.
Theresa: Was it difficult casting the characters for this play?
Eileen: A little bit, yes. Because I had certain images in my mind as I continued to read the story. Of course, you always want to get the best actors for the job. My old mentor Claude Purdy, who directed many, many of August Wilson’s plays told me that your job as the director 75% is in how you cast the show. And so I do my very best to cast the right people who make the right mix because it’s not just about the individual that’s good for that particular role. But it’s about the individual and how they work with the ensemble as a team. And I always try to put my best foot forward with that.
Theresa: Mr. Wayne DeHart who plays the father Dr. Joseph LeVay mentioned that he was cast two weeks before rehearsal. But you pretty much cast the whole team way beforehand.
Eileen: I did. Typically, the Ensemble Theatre has their auditions in the last weekend in June. And I always wanted Wayne to be able to do this play. But because of budgetary reasons, I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to make that happen. And then, the heavens opened up and we were able to cast him in the show. I really wanted him all along but because of our budget, I wasn’t sure. That is because Wayne is an Equity Actor.
Theresa: What would you like to say to the Houston-theatre going audience?
Eileen: It’s wonderful for theatres to be able to explore new playwrights or emerging playwrights whose work is being known and done across the country. I think that is one of our jobs as theatres is to be able to offer that to the Houston community and to the world, to present the best ART that we possibly can. Our jobs intertwine with life every single day.
Theresa: Thank you so much! And to all the theatre-goers out there, don’t miss STICK FLY playing at Houston’s Ensemble Theatre through May 2nd, 2010. I found it thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. I laughed as I start to look back and think about my own family and the awkwardness and quirkiness of certain situations as we get together. In a way, STICK FLY becomes a study of a person’s socio-economic status in society as each character reveals their level of position or role in the world around them. The playwright Lydia R. Diamond is able to show us that whether you’re a neurosurgeon, a homeless guy, a student or a professional, a father, a mother, son or daughter, wife or girlfriend, white or black, you have a stake in society. And the responsibility falls upon you to claim and defend that stake. You’ll understand what I mean when you see STICK FLY. Oh, and I couldn’t help but cry by the end of the story. So don’t forget to bring a box of tissues as these certain studies of a family member’s socio-economic status can become quite moving and emotional.
HOUSTON, March 29, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ensemble Theatre presents its comedy-filled production of 'Stick Fly' by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Lydia R. Diamond, with an opening night and media reception April 8, 2010, 6:30PM at 3535 Main St, Houston, TX 77002.
'Stick Fly' brings forth a perspective of the African American Diaspora seldom seen on stage.
"This play is in a refreshingly contemporary setting where we are introduced to a 'Fresh Prince of Bellaire' type of family intertwined with a bit of blue humor and posh wit," says Eileen J. Morris, Artistic Director for The Ensemble Theatre.
The LeVays, an affluent African American family, gather in their vacation home on Martha's Vineyard. Dr. LeVay, a respected neurosurgeon and hopeless philanderer, has two sons: one that has followed in his footsteps, and the other who is a struggling novelist. Each son brings along his girlfriend to meet the family for the first time, resulting in confrontations about race, the economy and politics. The family ties rapidly unravel as tensions rise when secrets are revealed. Through lively exchanges and simmering wit, they tackle the challenges of family life and the changing world around them.
"We are excited to be the first theatre in the Southwestern region of the U.S. to present 'Stick Fly'," says Morris about the third show she has directed during the theatre's 2009-2010 season.
Previews: April 3, 4, and 7, 2010 Show Run: April 8 – May 2, 2010
Performances: Thursdays: 7:30p.m.; Fridays: 8:00p.m.; Saturdays: 2:00p.m. and 8:00p.m.; and Sundays: 3:00p.m.
For tickets and seating availability call: 713-520-0055 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 713-520-0055 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or visit: www.ensemblehouston.com
Diamond is a graduate of Waco High School, making her the third playwright with Texas roots in The Ensemble Theatre's season lineup. She is a Huntington Playwriting Fellow, a professor at Boston University, a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, and a Theatre Communications Group (TCG) Executive Board Member. Stick Fly led her to become a finalist for the 2008 Susan Smith Blackburn Award, and won the 2006 Black Theatre Alliance Award (BTAA) for Best Play. She was critically acclaimed for her adaptation of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, winning the 2008 American Alliance for Theater and Art (AATA) Distinguished Play Award and the 2006 Black Arts Alliance Image Award. Her other productions include: Voyeurs de Venus ('06 Joseph Jefferson Award -- Best New Work, '06 BTAA -- Best Writing), The Gift Horse (Theadore Ward Prize, Kesselring Prize 2nd Place), Harriet Jacobs, and Lizzie Stranton.
The Ensemble Theatre's 2009-2010 Season is sponsored in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance and Texas Commission on the Arts. Continental Airlines is the exclusive airline sponsor for The Ensemble Theatre. This production is generously underwritten by Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts and National Oilwell Varco.
The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and to enlighten, entertain, and enrich a diverse community. The theatre is known as the only professional theatre in its region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African American experience. In addition to being the oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest, it also holds the distinction of being one of the nation's largest African American theatres that owns and operates its facility with an in-house production team. Board President Emeritus Audrey Lawson led the capital campaign for The Ensemble's $4.5 million building renovations that concluded in 1997.