Thursday, October 12, 2006

THE TRUTH (About the Down Low) coming to N.C.

Hello, Family-
I am pleased to announce that Restoration Stage, Inc. will present our production of THE TRUTH (About the Down Low) in Greensboro, North Carolina next month. Supported by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and presented in conjunction with the Tom Joyner Foundation, we're taking our message from the Capitol City to the buckle of the Bible Belt. We are committed to reaching Black people everywhere by insisting that we dialogue about the 'down low' issue- like family.

I've been saying publicly for some time now that much of what's been written about the 'down low' has been, I think, intentionally provocative. It has sold books and created pandemonium and solicited laughter- often at the same time. But, THE TRUTH moves beyond the sensational sex story and presents the issue of dishonesty in relationships- spurred on by homophobia- in a way that is palatable for all of the shareholders in our Black family. A family play that deals with a controversial topic, THE TRUTH seeks to present all sides of the issue in a way that encourages us to examine our current practice of silence in an effort to stem the tide of broken families and malady that so many face as a consequence of looking the other way.

In THE TRUTH, we meet Olivia Sutton, a forty-five year-old Christian mother of two young adults on the verge of having the 'down low' issue rip their lives apart. Tastefully treated by the amazing playwright, Steven A. Butler, THE TRUTH engages us in characters that we all know from our collective family trees.

Maybe I shouldn't be shocked (but have been) by much of the feedback we've received from the telling of Steven's powerful story. Some folks don't believe we should be talking about the 'down low' at all while others believe the piece to be a watershed moment in the culture. I think it's a realistic portrait of what can happen when one lacks the support of family and the self-confidence to make personal choices that build, not destroy relationships. When I read Steven's early draft of the play two years ago I thought, "Finally! A dialogue on the 'down low' that's not about screaming a point of view, but offering a simple slice of life for the Everyman and allowing one to reach his or her own conclusions with the knowledge that this could absolutely occur in their own family."

That our little play has engaged the support of many of the great leaders of our time on both sides of the issue has overwhelmed the entire Restoration Stage team. Comprised of people of faith (as Black people usually are) THE TRUTH has tested all of us and forced us to ask questions of ourselves and each other that we wouldn't have otherwise addressed. Our actors have made tremendous sacrifices to do the piece, folks that we respect came to see what the fuss was about, and friends old and new pitched in- like family. Perhaps it's because THE TRUTH didn't begin with an agenda of any kind. It started as a true story that absolutely appalled Steven to the point that he ranted about it to no end. He refused to accept that I wasn't outraged by what he was telling me, asserting that I, like many, was entirely too jaded. And he was right.

I'm glad that everyday people are talking about the 'down low' issue. I'm glad that God's people are talking about it. I'm glad that gay and lesbian people are talking about it. People are actually talking about the issue in terms of how they would handle the situation personally.

It has not always been an easy road to travel. We hear the cries of those who wish to see homophobia eradicated. We seek the truth of God's will for all of our lives. We've heard about the panic of Black women who are running scared from the rise of HIV infections among the population and the cries of foul from those who don't wish to see gay, Black men vilified for their presumed role in the epidemic. HIV is an issue that must be addressed until we find a cure, yes, but THE TRUTH isn't about HIV. It really is about honesty- honesty in relationships and honest with ourselves.

So we present the Sutton family. We present THE TRUTH. We are pleased to be joined by Monte Wolfe, Tim'm West and the Brave Soul Collective, a Washington-based organization that seeks to bridge the gap between HIV infected and affected people. We are delighted to partner with the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and to be a part of the Tom Joyner Foundation's efforts to create awareness about HIV/AIDS on college campuses. Join us in Greensboro in November. Tickets will be available on October 16 at and by calling 1-800-494-TIXS.

Rethink. Reconnect. Restore!

Courtney Baker-Oliver, Founding Artistic Director Restoration Stage, Inc. "Restoring the Black Family, One Story at a Time!"