Essential Theatre play offered feminine perspective

Viewers filled the seats of the Ronald O. Davis Acting Studio on Saturday as Florida A&Ms Essential Theatre presented a play reading series called Deals with the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot.

Set in Club Zebras Shop, the cast presented performance pieces from the book written by award-winning playwright Pearl Cleage, who is known to challenge issues like domestic violence against women, family values, racism, and sexual independence.

Kerrah Sharpe, a cast member from Tallahassee, said she was proud to be part of the project and was pleased with attendance. She said being part of the presentation has taught her a lot as a performer.

It was not hard to put myself in the characters shoes, Sharpe said. It forced me to grow and research.

Each cast member narrated a piece that closely examined issues such as love, sex, family, sexism and domestic violence from a feminine perspective.

Director of the reading series, Valencia Matthews, wanted to give the audience a series that was honest, raw and uncensored through the eyes of women. Matthews enjoyed Paiges plays and book and was compelled to teach, and orchestrate performances involving her work.

I always wanted to do the reading of her essays, so this year it was the right time, Matthews said. It was an honest attempt to say I love her work.

She said the message that she wants to send is that women have to stand together, regardless of socio-economic backgrounds, because sexism is still real.

Deals with the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot was a combination of singing and humor. The performers were also interactive with the audience.

Anastasia Moshy, a senior theater performance student from, said she enjoyed the play and thought it was relevant for students and community members to see how women are portrayed.

The show was a real eye-opener, and it allows us to think and be progressive and realize we still have a lot of things to do to come together as black women and people, Moshy said.