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Stage Production On "Tragic Genius" Of Richard Pryor In The Works + Vogue's "Black Americana" Series

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by Tambay A. Obenson
November 7, 2011 7:15 PM
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Black Americana

In case I didn't already mention, Rod Gailes OBC, the winner of the second Shadow And Act $3,000 Black Filmmaker Challenge (3rd will be announced next week Tuesday), is a renaissance man. He's a man of many talents, not just writing and directing film, but he also works in theatre and photography; and Rod has projects in both fields that are worth mentioning here on S&A.

First, in theatre, Rod is (and has long been) developing a stage production on the "tragic genius" of comedian Richard Pryor titled UNSPEAKABLE: a dramatic fantasia. Explosive, underground actor and award winning filmmaker join forces to explore the tragic genius of comedian Richard Pryor. From the press release:

Unspeakable is an unflinching ride through the emotional landscape of comedic legend, Richard Pryor. Experience his rise to super stardom in the shadow of Bill Cosby and his blazingly self-destructive love affair with cocaine and….Jessica.

An invitation-only pre-Broadway developmental showcase of the work was recently held in New York City (I couldn't make it) last week, and another exclusive reading of the new play will happen on November 9 at the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, with Loretta Devine joining the cast, which already includes Michelle Wilson, Adam Couperthwaite, Dominique Morisseau and James Murray Jackson, Jr. No ETA yet on when the play will make its move from developmental showcase to become a live commercial production; but you'll know more when I know. But, who knows, we might actually see this before the Richard Pryor biopic (starring Marlon Wayans) becomes a reality. Secondly, in photography... I'll just paste Rod's own words here:

This summer I had the opportunity to collaborate with my dear friend & brother, Brandon Littlejohn, on a 1950's inspired photo editorial called "Island in the Sun." This week that spread and accompanying interview launched as an exclusive in VOGUE Italia Online! As you know, VOGUE is a world class publication and online experience. I am so excited I could just BURST! Having recently completed the NY Showcase of "UNSPEAKABLE" (my Broadway bound play about the life of Richard Pryor), I'm feeling like an 8 year old on Christmas! Next week we head to LA to do a reading with Loretta Devine. Soooo Exciting.

And about the Vogue spread, which is part of the magazine's "Black Americana" series...

... encourages African Americans to challenge societal messages about Blackness, while aspiring to higher levels of art and education on their own terms. Creating opportunities in the creative industry and artistically challenging the way African Americans have been conditioned to see themselves are two main goals of the “Black Americana” series.

You can check out the full photo spread by clicking HERE; sample photo above.

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