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Bad Dates  Curtain CallsSkeleton Crew

Toccarra CashName: Toccarra Cash

Role: Shanita

Hometown: Dayton, Ohio

How are you like your character? This is one of the main reasons I’m so enamored with this play – the fact that I can relate to Shanita so much. I was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio – a city remarkably similar to Detroit – where one of the main economies was the auto industry, and where so many people I knew growing up who were both family and not family worked for GM. With a twist of fate, I would have been Shanita. She takes great pride in her skill and is passionate about her craftsmanship; her ability to work with her hands to create something vital to people’s lives. She’s also a dreamer, longing for something...more. I can deeply relate to both of these things, with the only difference being that her craft is mechanical and mine is artistic – although the way she speaks about it makes it clear that the work she does is much like an art to her as well.  Even the manner in which she speaks in the script sounds like me – a “round-the-way” girl from the working class Midwest.

Why is this play important for Boston audiences? Well, I’m sure Boston has felt the deep sting of our economy’s downturn over the last 10 years, just as many of our cities have across the country. The effect of hemorrhaging jobs that have been lost to machines or to overseas workers is still very real. I believe this play gives a humanity to those headlines. It lets you know these are real people whose lives have been and continue to be massively affected by these events. 

What’s more important: doing right by others or doing right by yourself? Doing right by others, because I think when you do that, you automatically end up doing right by yourself, because that good karma will always come back around. 

Why do you think Skeleton Crew is one of the most produced plays of 2017? For the very reason I mentioned previously: I think people are longing to see the humanity behind the devastating economic effects most of us have endured.  They want more than news outlet sound bites and talking head debates. They want to see their emotions, thoughts, fears, and dreams reflected back to them in an authentic way that they recognize, to help make some kind of sense of the economic mess this country finds itself in. Simply put, it’s one of the most produced because it is the story of most cities across the nation. 

What do you tell yourself when times get rough? I consider myself a pretty spiritual person, so I tend to lean on the old adage, “this, too, shall pass.” I also remind myself that I am standing on the shoulders of those that came before me, for whom life was much rougher, and they were survivors. Which means I am, too. 

 

Jonathan DentName: Jonathan Dent

Role: Dez

Hometown: I’m originally from Denville, New Jersey, and I currently live in Brooklyn, New York.

How are you like your character? I relate deeply to Dez’s sense of humor and his playfulness. One of the things I like most about Dez is no matter how grim things seem around him, he never loses his ability to laugh and to make others laugh. He uses his humor as a coping mechanism for some of the harsh realities in his world and I find that to be very noble. 

Why is this play important for Boston audiences? As you watch these four characters navigate the highs and lows of their daily lives, you can’t help but fall in love with them because they are written so honestly and fully. The Boston audience is an incredibly astute one and I know they will appreciate the nuances of the different personalities onstage.

What’s more important: doing right by others or doing right by yourself? Wow, we’re getting deep now. You know, I don’t think those two things are necessarily mutually exclusive. I think it’s possible that by doing right by yourself you can also do right by others. I think doing right by yourself is always the best bet as long as you’re not comprising others in the process. 

Why do you think Skeleton Crew is one of the most produced plays in 2017? Skeleton Crew is infused with not only a pulsing heart, but also a tenacious spirit. It’s cathartic for people to watch a story about characters fighting to survive during a time of instability. I think a lot of us feel as though the very ground underneath us is shifting a bit in today’s current climate, and it’s helpful to spend time with characters that are dealing head-on with their problems and not running away from them. 

What do you tell yourself when things get rough? I have a pretty simple mantra I repeat when things get hard: “This too shall pass.” Everything is impermanent and changing. I think it’s important to hold on to that truth when you’re stuck in a dark time that seems never-ending.

 

Patricia FloydName: Patricia Floyd

Role: Faye

What is your hometown? Detroit, Michigan. Even though I’ve lived in the New York area for almost 30 years now, I usually get home roughly three times a year and I’m still a Detroit girl at heart. Whenever I go home there are certain things I MUST have: a) a couple of Coney Island hot dogs; b) Vernor’s ginger ale; c) Better Made Bar-B-Q potato chips; and if I can fit it in d) Buddy’s Detroit-style Pizza! A trip to the historic Baker’s Keyboard Lounge to listen to some great jazz is always a treat. The music and art scene in Detroit is still top notch. But the absolute best thing about Detroit is the people. They are resilient, hard-working, warm, and welcoming. There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned Detroit cookout or house party. I could go on and on! A friend once told me I was better than the Chamber of Commerce. You can’t ask me about Detroit unless you’re prepared to sit a spell!

How are you like your character? Where do I begin? I’m a born and raised, third generation card-carrying union member (my grandfather was a UAW negotiator), Detroit girl, who on occasion has a cigarette at an inappropriate time or in an inappropriate place. I definitely have a maternal dervish in me in regards to both my biological family and the theatre family I’ve collected over the years.

Why is this play important for Boston audiences? I feel that since the 1980s, there has been a concerted effort to break and vilify unions. People fought, and in some cases died, to create unions to protect workers who were being taken advantage. We are right back where we started and people who are lulled by divisive rhetoric need to be aware of what is REALLY happening.

What is more important: doing right by others or doing right by yourself? I don’t believe they are mutually exclusive. I believe in karma.

Why do you think Skeleton Crew is one of the most produced plays of 2017? It resonates with people, with the struggles of the working class. I watched it happen. I saw Detroit go from one of the wealthiest, most vibrant, and largest cities in the country to desolation. I saw it happen to Flint, Gary, and St. Louis. Dominique Morisseau’s writing is so precise, so brilliant, and so true to “The D.”  

What do you tell yourself when times get rough? Two things really: a) Don't get mad: THINK (7th grade lesson from my Dad); and b) God didn't CARRY you THIS far to drop you!

 

Maurice ParentName: Maurice Parent

Role: Reggie

What is your hometown? Born in Washington, DC raised in suburban Maryland (Prince George’s County)

How are you like your character? I relate to Reggie’s desire to do right by as many people as he can. He’s stuck in the middle of so much. He’s worked so hard to be where he is. He loves and cherishes his community and those that helped him get to where he is. It’s hard when there are so many forces pulling you in different directions, and you are the person in the middle trying to put out fires and keep the peace. Eventually you are no longer able to and that’s where things get really difficult. 

Why is this play important for Boston audiences? Besides it being a brilliant piece of theatre, I feel Boston audiences will relate to the central message of the resilience of the working class. It’s a perspective we don’t see enough of on stage.

What’s more important: doing right by others or doing right by yourself? That’s a tough question. It’s difficult because sometimes doing right by others means doing “not so right” by yourself. I’d say ultimately doing right by others is best however you need to make sure you aren’t also being taken advantage of. 

Why do you think Skeleton Crew is one of the most produced plays of 2017? As a piece of theatre it’s brilliant with well-written, meaty, well-developed characters and a role that is a “Willie Loman” for a seasoned Black actress. It also gives the personal perspective of an experience many of us know only through news outlets and reporting on Detroit. For me, that’s the power of theatre. Humanizing the issues faced by society.

What do you tell yourself when times get rough? Hmmm, besides “so, is it going to be a wine, bourbon, or scotch night, Maurice?” I remind myself that I am alive. It’s a gift to just be able to breathe and be in good health. I encourage myself to be grateful for the things going well in my life. If, in at least some small way, I am making a positive contribution to the world around me, then life is worth it and the hard times will pass.


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