Set in Fort Greene and Bedford-Stuyvesant in the 1990s, the golden age of Hip Hop, My Brother’s a Keeper is a twenty-something, coming of age story in which the characters, Kevin, Basil, Mona, Cecil and Charlene, struggle to develop authentic relationships with each other and come to terms with their sexualities while not grasping at easy answers to their questions about sexual identity, friendship, Blackness and manhood.
Throughout the play, Brooklyn in the 1990s emerges as a vibrant and complicated environment. Like many Black people who lived in the community at that time, the characters confront issues such as police brutality, gentrification, HIV and biphobia (i.e., prejudice against bisexuality). “The setting of the narrative helps us examine everything that has happened since that very vibrant social, political and cultural period and the choices we have made. In a moment in which people across the country are using the rallying cry Black lives matter, there is no better time to present this play,” said Dr. Herukhuti. Here him talk more about the issues addressed in the play in this HuffPo Live interview.
The development of My Brother’s a Keeper was Dr. Herukhuti’s fellowship project at the 2015 Emerging Voices LGBT Writers Annual Retreat, organized by Lambda Literary Foundation. Dr. Herukhuti along with twelve other playwrights were the inaugural fellows for the retreat’s first playwriting workshop—an addition to the eight year old program made possible by a generous grant from the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation. Playwright, essayist, poet and anthologist Cherríe Moraga was the inaugural workshop leader.
Dr. Herukhuti is a writer, cultural studies scholar and activist. He is the author of Conjuring Black Funk: Notes on Culture, Sexuality and Spirituality, Volume 1 and co-editor of the award-winning anthology Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men. He is the founder and chief erotics officer (CEO) of Center for Culture, Sexuality and Spirituality (CCSS). As a 2015 Thought Leader for the Association of Black Sexologists and Clinicians, Dr. Herukhuti also blogs for its organizational website’s Expert Opinion section. CCSS is a social enterprise dedicated to cultivating sexual-spiritual empowerment through cultural events, educational resources and its webjournal, sacredsexualities.org.
Through a highly successful crowdsourcing campaign, Dr. Herukhuti was able to create an amazing cast of performers and artists:
- DeShaun Gordon-King (KEVIN SEELEY) is currently a Master’s student at NYU studying flute performance. His most memorable role was as the narrator in Duke University’s production of Into The Woods.
- Marc Anthony Mcdonnough (BASIL CUNNINGHAM), a NYC native, from a young age was drawn to the performing arts. Always drawn to television and movies, he was inspired to become a performer. In the pursuit of performance career, Marc graduated Five Towns College with a BFA in theater arts. He continues to work as an aspiring actor, activist and model appearing in AfroPunk locd up, black lives matter movements and most recently as Donkey in Shrek the Musical.
- Kendra Holloway (MONA GARRETT) is excited to grace the stage for what is her 2nd NYC stage play reading. Holloway is a native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. NYC theatre credits include Tailor/Ensemble in the Pulse Ensemble Theater’s production of The Taming of the Shrew, Yaya in Vultures at the Roy Arias Theater, and Ensemble in the 2014 Fringe Festival Production of Dragon’s Breath. In addition to her acting, Holloway also holds a BA in mass media arts from Clark Atlanta University. Her production work can be seen in the new Valisia LeKae webseries The Adventures of Lillian Kate.
- Charles Curtis (CECIL ROBERTS) is a Yonkers, NY native, musician, actor, director, teaching artist and playwright. His performance credits span various genres including opera, musicals, stage plays and film. As a playwright, Curtis’ work was featured at the 2011 National Black Theatre Festival, selected for full performance at the 2014 DC Black Theatre Festival, and Strings, his latest work, completed at 10 week run at Manhattan’s Davenport Theatre. Outside of the performing world, Curtis is a voice and performance coach and lectures on the use of Hip Hop in teaching life skills and as an alternative to traditional talk therapy. To learn more about Mr. Curtis, his work, or any upcoming projects, please visit, www.charlescurtis.info.
- Atika Greene (CHARLENE NOBLE) is a Brooklyn native. She is a recent graduate of The American Musical & Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City. This budding star takes every opportunity as a chance to grow as an actress. She hopes you walk away from the performance enlightened, educated and open-minded. www.AtikaGreene.com.
The following organizations are reading cosponsors: BiNet USA, FluidBiDesign, S.I.S.T.A.H., Bi Writers Association, BiRequest, LivingBi, In The Life Archive at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, BiUsTV, NYU LGBTQ Student Center, and Lambda Literary Foundation.
To participate in discussions of the play on social media, use the following hashtags: #MyBrothersAKeeper, #MBaK, and #RecognizeBiMen.