Not much of the inner city ever makes it all the way to Collierville. The tranquil, serene settings of the Memphis suburb belie the drama and shortcomings of its urban neighbor.
The two worlds join in theatrical harmony on January 15th at the Harrell Theater when Rabia Louis Haynes brings his one-man play, "If Martin Luther King, Jr. Were Alive Today," back to Collierville for the second year.
The Los Angeles-based actor with deep family roots in Clarksdale, Miss., has produced and directed movies, hung out with Saudi Amirs, traveled the globe and inspired audiences with his renditions of some of Dr. Martin Luther King's most well-known speeches.
Haynes has gone from the gritty streets of Chicago's South Side as a boy in the Robert Taylor public housing project to membership in the Screen Actors Guild and on-screen roles for major networks. He spent time in L.A. shadowing director Steven Spielberg during filming of "The Terminal," and attended film school in New York City with Will Smith and Quentin Tarantino.
"If Martin Luther King, Jr. Were Alive Today" is a high energy, 70-minute performance that includes seemingly instant costume changes, dramatic lighting and music, and the riveting vocal similarities to MLK.
"If you close your eyes, you almost believe Dr. King has come back to life to speak on our modern condition," says the L.A. Weekly in reviews last year. Ironically, Haynes does not portray Dr. King, but rather a young man, "Bobby," who admires MLK, and can only find solace in the courageous nature and words of America's greatest Human Rights champion. The historical relevance and message of "MLK" are made current with just-added references to the re-election of President Barack Obama.
Every student and congregation should plan to see "If Martin Luther King, Jr. Were Alive Today," not only to support local theater, but also to ignite new interest in civil rights history as America approaches the 50th Anniversary of Bull Connor and Birmingham, of Medgar Evers and Memphis... of the March on Washington and the Loraine Motel.
The Jan. 15 event is the unofficial kick-off of the "Birmingham Crusade: Memphis Mission 2013." More on that to come.
(For ticket information, and to schedule groups for "If Martin Luther King Jr. Were Alive Today," call 310-864-4038, or 901-230-8805. Opening night offers tickets at two for the price of one. Tickets are available at Davis-Kidd Booksellers on Perkins Extended.)