In Part 2 of a series of interviews with the cast and director of Flyin’ West at Bowie Community Theatre, meet Kecia A. Campbell.
Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you in the past year on local stages?
Hi (shy giggle)! My name is Kecia A. Campbell and I’ve performed for many years in productions throughout the Washington, DC-Baltimore Metropolitan area. Most recently, in A Christmas Carol, Romeo and Juliet, and The Merry Wives of Windsor at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Hedda Gabler at Quotidian Theatre Company, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at Forum Theatre, and Coyote on a Fence at The Colonial Players.
Why did you want to be part of the Bowie Community Theatre’s production of Flyin’ West?
Reason 1: Pearl Cleage.
Reason 2: The strong, complicated, richly drawn, and “real” female characters in Flyin’ West are attractive to me. The opportunity to be part of an all-African American cast telling a historically significant and human story that we all can relate to was too good to pass up. Unfortunately, plays like this aren’t produced that much and rarely come around for African American actresses/actors.
What did you perform at your audition?
I did a monologue from August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (one of my favorite plays), and we did cold readings from Flyin’ West.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to your character? What do you like about your character?
I have the honor of playing Sophie in this production. Sophie is a fierce visionary. She loves and has an unwavering commitment to family, community, and her people, and a strong sense of self. Sophie is a woman of action. She works to make her dreams a reality. I love and relate to her fearless and courageous spirit.
How did you prepare for your role and what were the biggest challenges you faced, and how did you resolve them?
I usually start with doing historical research. For this play, I researched the lives of African American women in the West; what was it like for African Americans migrating West after reconstruction; what was it like to live in the town of Nicodemus, KS, etc.
I develop a backstory for my character and I usually choose a word and/or a song as a foundational source/talisman for my character. I also read, re-read, and re-re read the play. I hone in on what is the overall action in each scene, what my character is saying as well as what others are saying about my character, and how it moves the story forward. I don’t put my script down until the end of the very last performance.
Pearl Cleage is a masterful storyteller and she has given Sophie a lot to say so one of the biggest challenges for me is getting all her thoughts/lines cemented in my head.
This is a period piece set in 1898. It is always a challenge to reconcile 2015 social norms, culture and ways of doing things with 1800’s culture, norms and protocol especially around the challenging themes and issues (e.g., equal rights, racism, economic empowerment, and domestic violence) of this play.
What advice and suggestions did your director give you that helped you prepare for your role?
Estelle is very passionate about this production and it has been a joy to watch her work. She has asked us to focus on subtext as well as text to bring out true thoughts, feelings, and emotions from our characters. She has challenged us to dig in and really get to know and to be at peace with all aspects of our characters and share what we are thinking/feeling with each other and react.
What is your favorite scene in the show that you are not in, and what is your favorite scene that you are in?
I have many favorite scenes in this play. The ones that make me smile the most are the conversations between Fannie and Will and Minnie and Miss Leah. I also enjoy the relationship/conversation between Miss Leah and Sophie. Sophie adores and looks up to Miss Leah. Their dialogues are lovingly hilarious. The spirit reminds me very much of conversations I have (had) with the elders in my family.
What do you admire most about your fellow castmates’ performances?
Our sense of humor.
What does this show have to say to today’s audiences?
LOVE: Love of self, family, community conquers all!
What line or lines that someone recites are your favorites and what are your favorite line or line that you recite and why?
Again, Pearl Cleage is a masterful storyteller. There are many lines in Flyin’ West that are great so it is difficult to choose. Sophie’s words to Fannie—“We have to see everything differently because we’re Negroes, Fan”—always makes me pause because it is so true…back then and even today.
Another line that makes me pause is Miss Leah’s, “Out here, nothin’ stands between you and your soul”.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Flyin’ West?
I want our audiences to be reminded that we all have the same stories and dreams and it is our responsibility to share all our stories, dreams and leave a legacy and road map for the next generation.
Flyin’ West is a wonderful gift and it is indeed an honor to tell the stories and pay homage to the tremendous spirit of African American pioneer women.
It is our prayer that the audience will be edified by the performance and enjoys the show!
Flyin’ West opens April 10, 2015 and plays through April 25, 2015 at The Bowie Playhouse – 16500 White Marsh Park Drive, in Bowie, MD. For tickets, call (301) 805-0219, or purchase them online, or at the door.
Meet the Cast and Director of ‘Flyin’ West’ at Bowie Community Theatre: Part One: Drector Estelle Miller