Tonight is Opening Night and I’m up at 6am — anxiously awaiting that 7:30pm call time when, at least for this show, all of us are already near dressed and laughing at each others jokes in the dressing room. Flight is quite an extraordinary production through and through. The piece itself calls to me both thematically and professionally. Thematically, it opens wounds that haven’t even begun to scab over for generations in my family. I can’t wait to have my people up from Baltimore to see. Professionally, I call it Charlayne’s “& then…” piece. Meaning, it requires the actors to bring everything they have to the table “& then” some. I came in with my own choices in regards to character, but it has been a truly collaborative process. Those little one to two minute dance sections took days to complete as Oronde Sharif learned how our bodies move best, and as we swallowed our pride and attempted to match his movements. Much of the movement and dance was constructed around George Jones’ drums, our heartbeat. Liesl Tommy’s style is also very deliberate. She constructed moments I never would have imagined from page to stage. It’s been amazing.
I had to compliment Charlayne at one point on her ability to give her piece over so graciously. She’s been there to answer questions, tell stories, and tighten up the script. Otherwise she’s given the most by bringing her energy into the room—and of course we squeezed a night out to go dancing to our Percussionist George Jones’ group, Salsamba. I’ve been told frequently that I’m fortunate to have Flight as my first professional play, but I knew way back in November when I first met the artistic staff that it was going to soar, and I am so thankful to ride along.
-DeWanda Wise (Mercy)