Playwright Anthony L. White — who goes by his penname Anthony Lamarr — grew up in Perry, Florida, near the railroad tracks.
Lamarr noticed how many small, southern towns had a similar railroad track running through it, often feeling as looming and impenetrable as a wall. Growing up on one side of the tracks versus the other sometimes meant that life looked incredibly different given varying socio-economic realities and segregation between races.
“I wanted to write a story about that,” says Lamarr, who began writing “Calming the Man.” “I wanted to do a play that was set in the 1970s after segregation and integration. African Americans felt they were going to finally be seen as equal, but it didn’t turn out that way. I think in that is the root of the angry black man myth. Black people became angrier because even though they weren’t segregated, there was still inequality.”
“Calming the Man” is being showcased this month as part of FAMU Essential Theatre’s Writing for Life Play Reading Series. Directed by Luther D. Wells, the play will be livestreamed on Feb. 26 and 27. Lamarr is ready to see this play come to life once again, as it’s been a project nearly 30 years in the making.
He began his first draft of the work as a journalism student at the University of Florida in 2001. Until that point, he had only written one-act plays. Lamarr had picked up a copy of August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson” and “Fences” and was inspired to begin writing in his own style. The play follows a father, his two sons and his best friend as the undercurrents of their relationships are explored and deepened.
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