Sunday, June 11, 2017

TONYS NIGHT

ITS TONYS NIGHT!
There's been so much going on in the LoJoLab lately we haven't had much time to keep fresh posts on our social media sites. Good thing, right? hahaha.  Great things in the werkz! - S/O to all our Bway fam who made it to the musical theatre superbowl this year!
(hmmmmm, a Tony Award on the LoJoLogo looks kinda dope, huh?)













Wednesday, May 31, 2017

THE IMPACT of THE TULSA RACE RIOT OF 1921 on our WERKz

20 YEARS AGO TODAY… 
…Jerome and I were 2 youngish, greenish aspiring musical playwrights hard at work on our very first book musical, “A Song of Greenwood” based on the a topic that has always resonated very deeply in our souls, the events surrounding the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. Our storytelling work has taken us to many different places in the last two decades but we’ve never strayed far from the topics of exploring America’s difficult racial history and the internal and external journey of the young black male. We have chosen to stay rooted in Tulsa as our home base because we know that the richness of this historic, blood-soaked, oil-saturated soil enables our creative ideas to gestate and bloom in a unique and percipient way. The Tulsa Race Riot history has woven itself into our work, our lives, and our souls. 

Big S/O to Shari Tisdale, Frances Jordan-Rakestraw,  Mechelle BrownHannibal B. Johnson, Eddie Faye Gates, Dr. Scott Ellsworth, Dr. John Hope Franklin, Chuck Cissel, Cindy Driver, Carmen Pettie, Greenwood Cultural Center, and all those who gave us the support and the platform to spread our wings with this musical. A huge thanks as well to the hundreds of cast & crew members who helped us bring the show to life in 1998 & 2001.
When the foremost historian of the Riots, Dr. Scott Ellsworth, called “A Song of Greenwood” “Tulsa’s most effective effort yet to heal the wounds of the 1921 Riots,” we were not only honored, but we truly felt the weight of that mantle. Every several years, we pull the musical out again and do a round of rewrites based on the knowledge we’ve gained in our years working under the tutelage of the great Broadway luminary Stephen Schwartz. Our continued efforts to create a highly entertaining & well-crafted work of musical theatre which adds just the right balance of human Truth and overarching reflection are ongoing. We have long hoped to stage a Broadway-quality Centennial Anniversary version of the show in 2021. The workload and expense of such an undertaking are monumental and honestly, it was beginning to look unattainable… until we learned a few weeks ago that someone had been going to bat for us (totally without our knowledge) trying to secure some funding to make it possible. It is still far from certain whether we’ll be able to mount the show in 2021 or not, but this level of support from our Tulsa family is a beautiful testament to the best qualities of our fellow Tulsans! 
We’ll keep you informed on the future of "A Song of Greenwood," meanwhile, our LoJoLab is overflowing with those odd magical and mystical “development” trappings of several new projects, including another piece directly related to Tulsa’s 1920’s history, "HotFoot" - a unique Silent Comedy short film starring superstar dancer Charles "Lil Buck" Riley.  
PLEASE spend some time over the next 48 hours to look into the history of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921!!!

"History is for human self-knowledge... the only clue to what man can do is what man has done.  The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is."
- R. G. Collingwood 



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

TONY'S HISTORY PRINTS NOW AVAILABLE!




You can now own a print of "Tony's History," our TuTchT piece that celebrates the historic accomplishments of Tony Winners Cynthia Erivo ("The Color Purple") Daveed Diggs, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Leslie Odom, Jr ("Hamilton") - First time in history all 4 Tonys were earned by performers of color!
CLICK BELOW TO PURCHASE A PRINT!


Click above to go to the shopping page. Once there, click on the image to see the products available: Wall Art, T-shirts, bags, pillows, phone covers and more.  
(All orders handled through the largest & most reputable site in the game FineArtAmerica.com)





     










Thursday, August 11, 2016

TONY'S HISTORY - OUR TUTCHT TRIBUTE TO AN AMAZING SHIFT!


FROM OUR IG ACCOUNT:
(Illustration by TuTchT IMAGING yeah, that's us too.  IG: @LoJoWerkz @TuTchTig)




Friday, June 17, 2016

We slipped this one in on our IG last week… LoJoWerkz Update



The Low-Key LoJoWERKz PROJECTS UPDATE:
A few weeks ago at the Broadway ASCAP offices we had a great private reading and critique of our musical "Roofless" with Stephen Schwartz & Michael Kerker, followed by a strategy meeting where we discussed the next step for "Roofless" and some other projects. We'll be playing everything pretty close to the vest this year but just to let you know… "Roofless" = still in production. "HotFoot" starring Lil Buck = still in production AND 2 new, very exciting musicals we've been quietly developing for years are now moving into pre-production… both adaptations, packed full of all the elements we love. That's about all we can say right now. … as we creep stealthily back into the LoJoLab. We may be quiet for a few months… but, DON'T SLEEP LoJoFam!!!! The Wheels of Creating-Fire-in-Obscurity continue to grind forth. StayTuned! (We didn't have any new artwork to drop but we found this storyboard frame from "Roofless" development oddly appropriate. hahaha.)









Sunday, June 5, 2016

PROPS TO MALACHI KIRBY

Since "ROOTS" premiered this week I realize we've had quite a few page hits based on links from IG and blog posts from months, even years ago. I thought I should repost our Malachi reel. Additionally, here's the "Kunta" joint I created several weeks ago to help promote "Roots," followed by the acting reel we put together featuring some of his best UK work.  So thrilled that our prediction (or "prophecy" if you prefer the term, lol) of stardom in the states came to pass…and humbled that it was via such a powerful and important role.  Much love and continued success to Malachi!
This illustration was created in the style of Turn-of-the-Century portraits of African tribal royalty.  Even before seeing "Roots" we felt this would be a profound and appropriate way to honor Malachi & his portrayal of Kunta Kinte.  


HERE'S  A REPOST FROM 6 MONTHS AGO - THE REEL WE PUT TOGETHER OF MALACHI'S UK WORK:
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We've been following the career of Malachi Kirby for 4 or 5 years now as he's risen from a young, unknown student actor in London to very popular presence on UK stages and screens, big and small. His upcoming journey to the shores of American consciousness will be via a project of great import and historical significance in African-American film history.  He has been cast in the iconic role of young Kunte Kinte in the reboot of "Roots" (the role that launched LaVar Burton's career with an Emmy nod and secured the name Kunte Kinte as part of the cultural lexicon of our country.) Malachi stars along side a huge cast including Laurence Fishburn, Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Anika Noni Rose, Derek Luke, Mekhi Phifer, Jonathan Rhys Meyers & T.I. to name just a few. Our UK fam are already familiar with him and can see him currently on the hit BBC show Jekyll & Hyde as the shapeshifting murderer Spring-Heeled Jack Burton.


I've had to do some spring-heeled jumping of my own through lots of hoops in order to get my hands on Malachi's UK-based work over the past 4 years, hahaha, but its the rewarding kind of hoop-jumping I'm always down for.   To whet your appetite as we await the "Roots" premiere, here's a taste of this brother's wide range of skills: from comedy, to drama, to action, to leading man.  I know we'll be seeing much, much more of Malachi Kirby on US screens in the coming years!   
YOU HEARD IT HERE, FOLKS!  CHECK HIM OUT! 



Malachi Kirby Actor Reel from LoJo Werkz on Vimeo.

HERE'S THE BACKSTORY of how we first stumbled on the talented Mr. Kirby:
It was back in 2011 when we first began working on a project designed to showcase some of the best Street Dancers through a strongly-structured narrative.   Street Dance-centered narratives were practically nonexistent at the time, and when they did make it to the screen the stories were largely lacking in substance. We were anxious to combine the story craft we were learning from Stephen Schwartz and other great Broadway/Hollywood story men with our love of Street Dance culture (which was having its own renaissance.) The resulting project was a series entitled STORY GOT NEXT (http://www.lojowerkz.com/p/story-got-next.html)

One of the key components of Story Got Next was a strongly structured story written to be carried by a cast of talented actors with the dancers in roles that wouldn't require acting skills beyond their reach. In short, a great story that allowed great actors to act and great dancers to dance and kept the emphasis on engaging entertainment.   The lead character "Story" is a former Street Dancer who suffers a debilitating stroke (see the link to the plot above.)   So the casting breakdown for the lead actor looked something like this:

Male, mid 20s, with the athletic build of a Street Dancer but who, for the majority of the story, would be wheelchair-bound with limited muscle control and an inability to speak for the first half of the series. He also needed to be a romantic lead.  This meant the search was on for an actor who could express a broad range of emotions with just his face, even with limited facial movement; a gravitas and street swag with a combination of vulnerability and strength; AND a strong sense of comic timing. It required an actor with an intriguing face and piercing, expressive eyes  that would look great in extreme close-up.   For a small, indie web-series this is a very, very tall bill to fill.

After months of searching everywhere… Long story short, I saw a still photo of Malachi through my TuTchT work with male models of color. My first thought was, "'Story' needs to look like THIS guy!" I was completely unaware that Malachi was an actor.  Then for the next few hours and days, everything snowballed in a series of thrilling eureka moments as I learned more about his award-winning skills as an actor and was able to dig up some footage. At the time (2011/12) he was a relatively unknown young actor working on stages in London with just a couple tv movies and short film credits to his name, (along with another outstanding young brother named John Boyega…yeah.  Both were products of Femi Ogun's amazing Identity School of Acting in London.  Nothing more thrilling than seeing the birth of superstars!) but his talent was already garnering awards and was undeniable.  We have done all our own casting of nearly 20 years now so we have seen THOUSANDS of actors and I knew after just a few minutes of watching Malachi that I was looking at a true talent with all the right skills and "it" factors in place. 

So the nature of "show biz" is such that we don't know if the stars will align in a way that allows "Story Got Next" to go into production, or if we'll be able to work with the talented Mr. Kirby, especially since his path will likely follow the successful progression that John Boyega has experienced.  But it's still amazing to be in the position to watch his career blossom in the US as we've seen in the UK. We'll forever be supporters of Malachi Kirby and you should jump on that bandwagon too!!!