Oakland, CA-For mature audiences only, "Cops and Robbers" the revolutionary play written and performed by "The Piper" of Flipsyde" hits the Malonga CasquelourdCenter (old Alice Arts Theater) in Oakland, 7:00 p.m. September 8, 2012. From what I saw at a special preview hosted by photographer Jim Dennis, Sunday, August 26 at his Emeryville studio, "Cops and Robbers" will not only hit the theater but your heart and mind as well. It is a hit! Piper has developed a one man show monologue sure to open a wide platform for dialogue and solutions. It's food for thought and action.
After seeing it, I stayed up late Facebooking about it in the wee hours and woke up early thinking about it. What was it? I thought about "The Man of a Thousand Faces" Lon Chaney, (truly aging myself here) as Piper seamlessly went in and out of character telling this story of an officer involved shooting. Isn't that a story we all know? Hey look at the six o'clock news. Who wants to hear and see that stuff, for real? You do!
"Cops and Robbers," not a video, not a child's imaginary game. It's not about Chauncey Bailey. It's not about Oscar Grant. It's not about Sean Bell! It's not about Trayvon Martin. It's not about Timothy McVeigh. It's not about Oikos Korean Christian University shootings suspect One L. Goh. It's not about "The Dark Knight Rises" shootings suspect James Holmes. It's not about Wade Michael Palmer suspected in the Sikh Temple shootings. Nor the 15 year old shooter the first day of school at Perry High School in Baltimore the day following the preview of "Cops and Robbers." It's not about any particular person or incident, but it is about them all. It's about American society and violence. It's about violence that can occur anywhere in the world where a weapon can be picked up and one with the power of the moment can strike down another. It's about the universal theme of walking in God's territory challenging, "Vengeance is mine saith the Lord!" It's about people "without vision perishing." It's about a prophetic anointed performance asking you what are you going to be about, now that you know.
Thank you, Jim Dennis for providing a sacred place for "Cops and Robbers" to be previewed, a sacred place where some unholy issues were dealt with in the circle of friends and extended family. In the post discussion, the story of the story evolved that Piper went with his play to his former drama teacher Amy Zins. She and her husband Lew Levinson, both artistic phenoms in their own right directed the play.
Zins, the former director of the Oakland Film Office currently teaches at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, is the marketing director for Reel Directory and is a consultant with 32Ten Studios in San Rafael. Levinson, also an actor and Chairman of the Laney College Theater Arts Department for more than 30 years, has produced and directed over 40 full-length college, community, and professional plays. "
It's really hard for me to wrap this up and really express what I saw because I have not released. The cathartic tears have not yet flowed from all that I witnessed in the preview. As I now hear police sirens in the early morning light of day as I write here in San Francisco, the cosmic howl has not come forth, nor the spirit of the wailers. All I can say is you have got to see this play. For those of you on the East Coast reading this, you have got to bring this work to a theater near you.
Norman K. Brown, (who started Black Studies at San Francisco State University) in the post discussion spoke of how he has been mentoring youth in the projects of Oakland that can't go outside of their neighborhood for fear of assassination due to turf allegiances. Piper has done his job. He has written. He has brilliantly performed. This husband and father of three, who has not quit his day job at a law enforcement agency, is an award-winning screenwriter, actor, rapper and one third of the alternative Hip-Hop band, Flipsyde who tells the tale of America. He has contradicted the lie that there are no role models in the Black community.
Piper in some sense encapsulates Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow," Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary's "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing" and Eugene Robinson's "Disintegration:
Piper in his blunt but humble way lets you know that he's just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other Black men of his talent and beyond. Piper makes me think of what I thought about President Barack Obama when he emerged on the world stage. America, if you think he's talented, you ain't seen nothing yet. He's the only one you let through. But there are many more. Black men are brilliant. If they only realized it, where would the world be today? "Black men are brilliant" does not counter the brilliance of any other men. Saying it does counter the societal lie that would keep them from moving forward in their gifts and callings.
"Coming through, ya'll!" "Cops and Robbers!" Come see what you say about "Cops and Robbers." It's going to be a busy weekend September 8 with the Black Expo and all, especially with the celebrity appearances of Terri J. Vaughn, Mario Van Peebles, and Darrin Henson. Save some energy to see "Cops and Robbers" later in the evening. I truly believe it will energize you to be the best you to do what you do best for the future of those "passing the bridge to the future."
Piper no stranger to "telling it like it is," has been speaking truth with his alternative Hip Hop band for years. See music credits below.
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