Chapter Four: Training Ground 


Six months after graduation from UC Santa Cruz, I made my acting transition to the Bay Area. Little did I know that I was about to be cast in arguably one of my most memorable and acclaimed roles in my seventeen-year stint in the Bay Area.

     I auditioned for and was cast in the “pistol packin” role of Norma Faye in J.E. Franklin’s moving play, Black Girl. Though Norma Faye’s long lost farther jokingly described her that way, we never actually saw evidence of that claim. Nonetheless, she was one of the “baddest” sisters I ever played. She was a bully who could cut you down to size with only a glare.

     Prior to that role, I had dabbled with UC Berkeley’s Walter Dallas and his stable of Bay Area actors. But it was being in Black Girl with Stanford University director John Cochran that would allow me to cut my teeth as a newcomer to Bay Area theatre in 1972.

     I loved the writing of the play, the energy of the other actors, and playing a role that allowed me to shine. We had a long run and inevitable cast changes along the way, which sometimes accounted for our uneven ensemble, but I loved my much talked about role.

     Many other satisfying and sometimes challenging roles would come and go and I would step up to the plate to become one of the most visible Black theatre activists in the community as co-founder of an important Black theatre organization called Bay Area Black Actors Connection.  An article that interviewed five African American women who accused the Bay Area of “apartheid theatre” would be only one of the stands that created controversy and earned my place as an agent of change in the theatre world in the Bay Area during the 1970’s and 80’s.


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