Imagine this, it’s opening night for NCCU’s Chicken & Biscuits and you’re greeted by cast members outside the steps of Farrison-Newton’s Communications Building. They have smiles on their friendly faces. You can feel the excitement and joy.
When I saw their anticipation, I knew I would be in for something good. I was intrigued and prepared myself for something special. This drama that was written by Douglas Lyons and directed by Dr. Asabi (Stephanie Howard) had some expectations to exceed.
As the drama unfolded the characters became so diverse – each one with their own characteristics that made them who they are; from the sassy sister Beverly, (Jada Sifford), to the First Lady Baneatta, (Kyla Brown) who’s strength is immaculate.
Reginald (Judah Harville) was nervous, but astounding, kind, and welcoming behind the pulpit. Perhaps you know an aspiring rapper like La’Trice (Kelyse Carpenter) or someone shy like Brianna (Samya Howard).
There were so many stories, beliefs, and even different ways of life. As you listen, you begin to understand what these characters are going through as a family. You begin to understand their struggles, their fears, and their pain.
The funeral of their dearly beloved Jenkins patriarch is what brings them together, and as the play goes on the audiences begins to not only feel this but understand this.
Each character had starry moments, and each character had sad moments. Kenny (Tyrone Andrews) and Logan (Jonathan Drenzer) had a deeply complex relationship.
They both had to learn how they could be who they truly were and still keep the love of their families. As time passed them by Logan felt disrespected and unwanted within Kenny’s family.
The snarky comments and insults made him feel like an outsider, but of course the reconcile is not too far away. While Kenny wanted to make his family understand it was difficult to make them accept him for who he was.
Simone (Simone McLamb) had an inner strength that could blow down a door but her crutch took the form of a disorder. Being healthy is something too often glossed over in the Black Community but this is one play that doesn’t.
This play takes the time to look into and understand the underlying struggles that come along with inner pain, heartbreak, and self worth.
Then, there is a hidden member of the family who simply wanted to know her father. This is something that many struggle with and can’t avoid. This family must face the truth of what has happened and deal with what has now become their reality.
This is a drama filled with dissension, family secrets, alternative lifestyles, eating disorders, and renewed family bonds. This constant rift within the family can make you laugh, it can make you angry, and it can make you upset but that’s okay.
It’s okay because this is real life – where there are highs, lows, times of laughter, and times of sadness. By the end of the drama we see how the story ends.
The song “Can’t Get Over You” by Frankie Beverly wafts through the audience and culminates with “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge. It was really something to experience and I’m glad I had the opportunity to do so.