Must See: Ghetto Chronicles

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(D-Whit delivers in a big way! Photo credit: Ali Rahman).

Written rap artist D-Whit, a young Baton Rouge, Louisiana native transplanted to New York –also actor, director, choreographer and producer—Ghetto Chronicles is a must see play.

Janice Jenkins the Artistic Director at Ms. Gertrude Jeannette’s Hadley Players Theatre in Harlem, located at 207 West 133rd Street, has introduced, and is presently featuring Ghetto Chronicles.

Through their rap narratives, the “Ghetto Chronicles� cast comprised of D-Whit, Sincere, Sky, Nell, Maleeq, Lyshae, Jai, and Lyne look beyond the Baby Daddy Mamma Drama. They look beyond the Thug, the so-called ‘Ho,’ the Gay persona, the Diva, the Bitch, the Racist, the Hustler and all the stereotypes that people so often find themselves labeled with throughout lifetime.

“Via my production, people are presented as multi-dimensional in character.  I show even the perceived heartless have a heart.  I highlight the lives of people whose daily existence are caught up in mere survival� explained D-Whit.  “Occasionally people get caught up in survival.  As a result, they do desperate things but I question whether that makes them bad people.  Are they bad people or only people doing what they must in circumstances beyond their control?  Ghetto Chronicles suggests that it’s best not to judge the book by its cover but rather to look inside to find the complete story.  Within the play, I talk about father’s deserting their sons and the pain that causes.  I have first hand knowledge about this.  Whether these invisible fathers who leave their families realize it or not, they hurt their children.  I survived because I realized that I had to grow up and learn how to depend on myself and believe in myself� continued D-Whit. 

“This is hard because a lot of kids without guidance have low self esteem and end up getting caught up in drugs or gang violence. And, occasionally, police come into neighborhoods and frame young people.  There are so many dynamics going on that I wanted people to see there are many sides to people’s lives� claimed D-Whit who sang background for Kevon Edmonds and toured with C&C Music Factory, TLC, Usher, Destiny’s Child, Deborah Cox, Outkast, Keith Sweat, DMC and many others.

The play opens in the graffiti strewn streets of a poor neighborhood.  It is not unlike other indigent localities that can be found all across America.  There are a million tales to be told from within the bowels of dilapidated hoods, however the tale told via the Ghetto Chronicles, chronicles the lives of the young people who are often caught up in the violence and ignorance that seep out of these struggling neighborhoods like a cancer.

Ghetto Chronicles is told via very creative rap and dance numbers that makes this play worth seeing, not only due to the talent in the show but also due to its message.  This is not a message that lacks hope but in fact is a very inspiring depiction of the promise that lies beneath and ahead.  The music is raw, funky, sassy, feisty, and done with bravado.  The play is high-spirited, animated, and done with a vigor that leaves you wanting for more. The dance numbers are well choreographed and move to the rhythm of the rap, making both voice and feet one instrument.

A poignant Girl Talk scene in the play is portrayed by Lyne whose character KoKo doesn’t agree with her girl friends that she must do anything to get money.  Ko-Ko’s girl friends advice Ko-Ko to play a man before he plays and takes advantage of her.  They tell her to go down to the local dance joint and dance before lewd and lascivious men in order to earn the money she needs. 

“Ko-Ko eventually goes because she has no choice. “There are a lot of young girls that dance because they don’t have the education and can make a lot of money dancing.  It doesn’t make them bad.  It’s just a way for them to make money.  Ko-Ko represents the plight of a lot of girls but she’s only a facade, not them.  She’s not me� explained Lyne of her first role. “I am having fun with this role and really enjoy the music and dance aspect of the play,� stated Dwalyn Sincere, a 20-year-old Philadelphia born performer who is in his 2nd run of the play.  “I really like the message of this play,� stated
Shannell Sapp who plays Nell.  LyShae, the songstress in the play, belted out some very fine numbers like Something’s Gotta Change.

“I have been in the play from the beginning when it was downtown and now up at Hadley’s Playhouse.  It’s an important play that has a lot to say,� stated Jai Catalano, who began his career as a Salsa dancer performing for stars like Tito Puente and Celia Cruz.  “This play explains why it’s important not to judge people or box people into stereotypes.  Though I am not like the character I play, I understand the character and have sympathy for what the character has to go through,� said Jelani Maleeq who formerly appeared in “The Lions King.�

Much was explored in the play such as drive-by-shootings, the dangers of gossip, and the criminal mentality. Also explored was why Black people call each other ‘nigger’ and how some whites even make money through African American self-degradation.  The play makes one think. It makes the viewer introspective as well as inspired.  It also highlights positive role models such as Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Denzel Washington.

I recommend this play highly.  There is something in this production for everyone, especially the youth.  This play says change is possible.  We can make the changes necessary to bring about a better life, better neighborhoods, closer families, and more positive attitudes.  All we need do is believe that change is possible and do it together.  Ghetto Chronicles run through December 3, 2006 and is a Must See Play!!!!

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