Four Broke Guys: Shawn Durham’s One Man Show

 

I met Shawn Durham more than 20 years ago when we were both volunteers for the Health Department’s Sex Education program. They convinced us to get in front of other students and teach them about things like sexually transmitted diseases and how to put a condom on a banana. It was the early 90s when AIDS was a hovering cloud and adults thought that maybe kids would listen to other kids when it came to these things.

And now, all these years later, J. Shawn Durham is still tackling the tough issues that hover like a cloud over our adulthood, but from a black man’s perspective. Now I’ll admit my copy of The Broke Brother’s Revolution is sitting on one of the stacks of books in my apartment, the bookmark a few chapters in, but the fact that he uses the book as a discourse for how black women believe black men should act, how black men react to this view, and how both look at “the game” is at times a little painful but also funny, at least for the characters. It is from this field that Shawn is mining the gold for his one man show.

Four crazy characters, two nights of live theater, ONE actor. The Broke Brothers’ Revolution presents Four Broke Guys,  a comedic, one-man spectacle that brings the colorful characters from the critically acclaimed novel, The Broke Brothers’ Revolution to life.

Or at least that’s what the headlines read. You’ll have to see for yourself. And you should see it for yourself. Durham is well contained, humorous, and a little bit angry which gives him the edge to pull something like this off. He’s already sold enough tickets to fill half of the Historic Douglass Theatre in Macon, Georgia. Opening Friday, April 11, tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the show. He’ll be joined, musically at least, by Chris Nylund from local bands Houston, Citizen Insane, and Magtard. Nearly 100 people donated to J. Shawn Durham’s Kickstarter crowd sourcing effort to convert the comedy/drama novel, “The Broke Brothers Revolution” into a stage play. Donors hailing from various parts of the country, including New York, D.C., Georgia, Hawaii and California, saw the merits in Durham’s efforts and made Four Broke Guys possible.

 The stage play will be filmed for a possible TV special as J. Shawn Durham will play four down-and-out men with women troubles. The characters come together to launch an outrageous civil rights-style movement protesting the buying of women drinks, ladies night promotions, and male-bashing in the media. But are these guys broke – dudes without money – or are they broken – men who need to be “fixed”? Get prepared to laugh, cry, and experience the plight of Four Broke Guys!

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The show is part of Durham’s TOBA Project, named for the vaudeville circuit for black performers in the 1920s and 1930s (TOBA = Theater Owners Booking Association). The TOBA Project is an effort to bring Four Broke Guys to historically black theaters across the country. Four Broke Guys is a uniquely designed to showcase the renovated schemes of these theaters by blending live theater, music, and film elements all into one great show. Theaters currently considered for shows include the Morton Theatre (Athens, Ga.), the Carver Theatre (Birmingham, Ala.), Liberty Theatre (Columbus, Ga.) as well as sites in Durham, N.C., Columbia, S.C., and Washington, D.C.

This idea is not new, to bring black created art to theatres that were part of the vaudevillian circuit for black performers. If Four Broke Guys could get off the ground, it would give Durham the opportunity to showcase other  talented black writers who have scripts and plays they are unable to get produced and shown elsewhere. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be in on the ground floor of a new renaissance of black penned plays that are performed not only on the old vaudeville circuit but for the world at large as well.

For more about The Broke Brothers’ Revolution, please click here (It currently has a 4.6 out of five star rating on Amazon.com).

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