West Philadelphia native Coleman Domingo, who has appeared in thought-provoking works such as “Passing Strange,” returns home to present his original work “A Boy and His Soul,” playing for one performance only at the Red Room of the Society Hill Playhouse, 507 S. Eighth Street, on Sunday, Oct. 16, at 8 p.m.
Presented by the Brothers’ Network, Inc., a Philadelphia-based racial justice non-profit organization of diverse African-American men, Domingo wrote “A Boy and His Soul” as part of his “chosen mission to enlighten audiences about the complexity of African-American existence.”
“We are thrilled to bring this powerful Black voice to the stage,” says Gregory Walker, managing director of the Brothers’ Network. “This amazing work demonstrates our lives at the intersections of race, gender, class and sexuality.”
An alumnus of Overbrook High School and Temple University’s School of Communication and Theater, Domingo will challenge himself in this 90-minute one-man show which makes extensive use of soul music — playing 11 different characters, ranging from his sister Avery to his “blue collar” stepfather Clarence — all people who have helped to shape the man he has become.
Outgoing and engaging, yet clearly introspective, Domingo, who also plays himself from age six to the present, hopes that “A Boy and His Soul” will also present a more realistic and positive portrayal of gay Black men, whom he feels are often incorporated solely to provide “comic relief.”
“I just feel like a lot of times we’re not seen as three-dimensional characters, Domingo said during a recent interview. “We become caricatures, whether it’s in theater or reality shows that I turn to — the ‘Housewives of Atlanta.’ Sometimes I watch these shows and I think, ‘Wait a minute. The only gay men that I ever see near those housewives are the biggest caricatures. They are over the top — what people just assume that all gay men are. They’re the guys you go shopping with. They’re funny, they’re bitchy, they wear high heels, they’re overtly sexual … and I don’t think that’s the reality of the majority.
“That is an aspect of gay men, but there are always subsets to any culture, and I just thought that it’s not fully fleshed out. So I choose to write stories that show the ordinary, everyday gay Black man that I know, that has the same issues, dreams, fears that everyone else has. A three-dimensional character. I do find it still alarming that the only way we’re intended to be in the media is as a clown.”
It was very important for Domingo to perform this original piece in his hometown. “In 20 years of my career, I have never performed in Philadelphia, ever. I’ve never had the opportunity,” he said. “I’ve performed in such major theaters all over this country, and I’ve never been invited to perform in Philadelphia.
“So this opportunity with the Brothers’ Network, it’s a beautiful homecoming, and I think people feel proud of me — and I feel proud because I think I’m also a person that carried my roots with me wherever I go. I’m proud to say I’m not only from Philly, but I’m from West Philly, and I come from these people. They created me. Sometimes in people’s minds, West Philly is something else, and I’m like, ‘No! Where I come from they invested in their children going to college and had block parties and community. I love soul food, but I eat healthy.’ I am a product of West Philly, and I don’t want anyone to think anything differently.”
Domingo, a proud Philadelphian, hopes that old friends and new fans will come join in his homecoming celebration, and said in conclusion, “It’s a celebration of Philly, it’s a celebration Blackness, it’s a celebration of we all know and grew up with, and we have a deep connection to. Come and have a good time!”
For tickets call the Society Hill Playhouse box office at (215) 923-0210. For information visit www.thebrothersnetwork.org or call (267) 334-4897.
Contact entertainment reporter Kimberly C. Roberts at (215) 893-5753 or firstname.lastname@example.org.