I love the power of theater. I am moved and awed when serious actors, fueled by words, story, setting, movement, and dynamic silence, invent a world on stage for an audience. Theater allows me to intensify the power & poetry of my words.

Excerpt: "A Father's Prayerbook," a Spoken Word/Dance/Video Program for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,Commemorative Celebration of The Claremont Colleges, premiered on Wednesday, January 21, 1998, Bridges Auditorium, The Claremont Colleges. The piece featured choreography by Maura Townsend, and vocals by Charles Lane (Father's Musical Spirit). Dancers: Daryl Copeland (Father's Dancing Spirit); Darrell Cleveland (Son); Valerie Hampton (Father's Female Spirit); K. Alisa Hawkins (Son's Female Spirit).

A Father's Prayerbook

At curtain's rise, FATHER'S MUSICAL
SPIRIT (FMS), stands IN DARKNESS center
stage and faces VIDEO SCREEN, his
back to the audience.

Singer is musical alter ego of FATHER of
father. Through acapella singing, VOCALESE
and other creative soundings, movements, and
actual speeches, FMS lifts, accents, deepens the
words of the FATHER. FMS is the link between
the FATHER'S story and the DANCERS on
stage who illustrate and push the story along.

FATHER stands at podium down stage right, in
front of curtain line.


After clip ends, SPOT ON FMS while he still has
Back to audience. FMS turns, meditating on what
He's just seen on the video screen, and walks to
Down stage center.


Shifting into lyrics, TALKSINGING at this point,
As if he's remembering the lyrics and their deeper
Connection to video clip. He stops. He speaks first
Two lines of FATHER'S SPEECH.

FMS: The familiar eloquence of Martin Luther King, Jr., rings across the decades. His elemental voice can persuade us all to testify, sometimes at unexpected moments, sometimes in unpredictable situations.

FMS stops. Really starts singing before winding
Down again to a thoughtful state.

FMS: His elemental voice can persuade us all to testify, sometimes at unexpected moments, sometimes in unpredictable situations.

Spotlight abruptly off FMS & up abruptly on
FATHER, who speaks as FMS hums "Riverside"
IN DARKNESS, as if he's FATHER'S imagination
Playing a soundtrack.

FATHER: King's courageous voice inspires me … now … to stand publicly within the quicksand of a major personal struggle. I, too, love in the face of deep disagreement, painful disagreement, yet still struggle to maintain family. When my son turned 18, he quit college to join the U.S. Navy. Just before Christmas of 1995, as we drove home from his college campus, he said:


FATHER: 'I got something to tell you and I know you're not going to like what I have to say.' He was right!

FMS stops vocalizing.


FMS: How can the song of a Black poet -- weaned on the words and ideals irrigating the late 1960s and early 70s -- join the Navy to become a nuclear engineer on a submarine?

FATHER: His decision hurt me and plunged me into deep reflection. I could do nothing to change his mind, and believe me, I wanted desperately to change his mind.

FMS turns & walks upstage.
Stops. Turns to face audience.
DANCERS enter & take

FATHER (continued): But finally, before he left for boot camp in March of 1996, I opened myself to the ache of losing my Son, and, surprisingly, the pride that he had made up his own mind.

FMS: I stood at the crossroads all parents must face eventually:

FATHER: I helped give birth to him but I don't own him.

FMS: I am a poet in love with a soldier.

FATHER: I am a poet in love with a soldier.

FMS & FATHER: I am a poet in love with a soldier.


Playwright/Producer: Papa's Brand New Bag, which premiered during Edge of the World Theater Festival, Los Angeles, featuring Billy Mayo, directed by Tamara Sibley (2000)

Playwright/Producer: The Johnson Chronicles: Truth & Tall Tales About my Penis, which premiered as staged reading on June 20,2004, at Village Theatre, Los Angeles, featuring Roy Greer, LeVan D. Hawkins and Peter J. Harris, directed by Kenshaka Ali (2004)

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Photo by Adenike Harris
LeVan D. Hawkins, left