SOMETIMES a writer’s words leap off the page, grab you by the hair, throw you down, wake you up, challenge your assumptions, shock you into seeing the world differently, and you know that the usual Stories on Stage format will not be enough to contain the author’s crazy, wonderful prose. Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson is that kind of novel – a smart, funny, insightful, many-layered coming-of-age story about four college students who descend from Berkeley into a small town in the heart of the deep South, thinking they’ll show these Southerners a thing or two.
SO, on July 31, Stories on Stage will present a staged reading from Welcome to Braggsvile, in cooperation with Celebration Arts. We’ll feature five actors, James Wheatley, Kristine David, Doug Pieper, Tarig Elsiddig, and Sam Sims reading excerpts from key parts of the book, in an evening of electrifying, crackling theatre you will not want to miss.
At Verge Center for the Arts, 625 S Street, Sacramento, July 31, 2015. Doors open at 7PM, readings begin at 7:30. The performance is a benefit for Celebration Arts: a donation of $10 is suggested and more is appreciated!
About T. Geronimo Johnson
Born and raised in New Orleans, T. Geronimo Johnson received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his M.A. in Language, Literacy, and Culture from UC Berkeley. He has taught writing and held fellowships—including a Stegner Fellowship and an Iowa Arts Fellowship—at Arizona State University, the University of Iowa, UC Berkeley, Western Michigan University and Stanford. His first novel, Hold it ‘Til it Hurts, was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction Johnson is currently a visiting professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He lives in Berkeley, California.
About Welcome to Braggsville
A young, white, working-class Southerner named D’aron Davenport is smart enough to get a scholarship to Berkeley. Eventually, shell-shocked D’aron meets up with three other students hovering on the fringes: an earnest girl from Iowa named Candice who claims to be part Native American; an African-American guy named Charlie from inner-city Chicago; and Louis, a sassy Asian teen from San Francisco whose goal in life is to become, as he says, “the next Lenny Bruce Lee, kung fu comedian.”
In their sophomore year, this band of friends makes the fatal error of signing up together for a course called “American History X, Y, and Z: Alternative Perspectives.” One day in class, the topic of historical reenactments comes up and D’aron lets slip that his hometown of Braggsville stages a kind of glorious “Lost Cause” Civil War battle reenactment every year. Faster than you can say “performative intervention,” D’aron’s friends persuade him that it would be cool to visit Braggsville and stage a scene to helpfully remind its residents about the horrors of slavery. Louis, the Asian guy, will be in blackface, playing a slave; when he acts “uppity,” he’ll be whipped and then mock lynched by the other three students. What ensues, however, once D’aron and his idealistic friends reach Braggsville, is an out-of-control disaster.
About the actors:
James Wheatley is Founder and Artistic Director of Celebration Arts. The mission of this all-volunteer organization is to provide training and performance opportunities for community residents in the areas of drama, dance and music.Among his many stage appearances the most recent have been in Driving Miss Daisy at Chautauqua Playhouse, The Sunset Limited for Actors’ Theatre of Sacramento as well as The Train Driver and Jitney at Celebration Arts. He has won six Elly awards and a Chesley Award for his acting, an Elly for his original script Petra as well as an Elly for Lifetime Achievement.
Kristine David. Kristine has been featured as an actor and musician throughout Northern California. She has appeared with B Street Theatre (Provenance, Bob), Capital Stage (Mauritius, Much Ado About Nothing), Sacramento Theater Company (Julius Caesar, Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet) & Big Idea Theatre (Inventing Van Gogh, Complete Female Stage Beauty.)
Doug Pieper. Highlights of Doug’s 22-year theatre career include an Elly nomination for his role in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, appearances in Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap, Sam Shepherd’s Buried Child, The Boys Next Door, The Little Dog Laughed, and as Timmy Boggs in The Last Time I Saw Timmy Boggs. He’s been heard on-air as the COOL101.9 movie review critic, and appeared in many regional commercials. He recently graduated school as a Surgical Technologist, and lives in Natomas with his husband and their 4 dogs. He’s grateful to be back at Stories On Stage for a second adventure.
An actor and a singer, Tarig Elsiddig has appeared at Celebration Arts in In The Red And Brown Water, A New Song For Christmas, Jitney, and The Bluest Eye. Born in Hayward California, he has been in love with acting for as long as he can remember.He’s thrilled to be appearing at Stories on Stage.
Sam Sims made his theatrical debut in James Wheatley’s A New Song For Christmas. He’s also an aspiring photographer studying at Sacramento City College, focusing on high fashion photography. He’s an artist open to any form of art and is excited to be a part of this event.
A sampling of what critics say about Welcome to Braggsville:
“The most dazzling, most unsettling, most oh-my-God-listen-up novel you’ll read this year. T. Geronimo Johnson plays cultural criticism like it’s acid jazz. His shockingly funny story pricks every nerve of the American body politic. Welcome to Braggsville. It’s about time.” — The Washington Post
More about the Welcome to Braggsville, Geronimo Johnson, and critical acclaim at http://www.geronimo1.com/
More about Celebration Arts at http://www.celebrationarts.net/