Raleigh playwright premieres ‘POOLED,’ a story of healing

Playwright Moses T. Alexander Greene during a recent preview of his play "POOLED," which opens Feb. 16 at the Kennedy Theatre in Raleigh.Courtesy of Bruce dePyssler

Delsin Jacobs is determined to be healed in the play “POOLED” by playwright Moses T. Alexander Greene. But the path to wholeness is not as simple as he thinks.

As he waits by the pool, which is a contemporary iteration of the biblical Pool of Bethesda which had miraculous waters, Delsin (played by Greene) learns the stories of the others who are there. Many of them are as desperate or more than he.

You can see the premiere of “POOLED,” which features original music, from Feb. 16 to 18 at the Kennedy Theatre in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. It’s directed by Deb Royals-Mizerk and presented in partnership with Theatre Raleigh. Tickets for both the evening and matinee performances are $26 (or $23 with senior, student or military discount) and can be purchased here.

The theme of the play is one that is close to Greene’s heart.

“Do we believe that people deserve second chances?” he asked. “The Bible, and this story in particular, demonstrates that there are no perfect people, but we all have something in us waiting for an answer — a job, a situation to be better or a change, so I think it is universal.”

Greene is a man of many talents. He became the director of North Carolina State University’s African American Cultural Center in 2017. He’s worked in television, public affairs and education, including at historically black college St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh.

He’s also on the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, and he’s all for bringing as much talent and diversity to Triangle theater as possible. “POOLED” was inspired by his favorite story in the Bible, John 5:1-15, in which Jesus heals a lame man who had waited nearly 40 years to walk and thought the Pool of Bethesda was his last hope. The story is one Greene remembers from his days growing up in New York.

“I’ve been in the church, and a praise and worship leader, for years,” he said. “This really brings together both sides of me — my love for people, black culture and the arts.”

Triangle talent will be portraying the characters who share their stories of suffering at the pool (yes, there will be an actual pool in the otherwise minimal set). If you’ve ever seen performances by Raleigh-based Justice Theater Project, you might be familiar with some of the people behind “POOLED.” Royals-Mizerk directed Justice Theater Project’s recent “Black Nativity” in December, and “POOLED” music director Carolyn Colquitt fulfilled the same role in that production. “POOLED” cast members like Chanda Branch (who was in North Carolina Theatre’s 2017 production of “Gypsy”), Jajuan Cofield and Greene himself have acted in Justice Theater Project productions.

Pooled
Moses T. Alexander Greene’s “POOLED” is a contemporary reimagining of the biblical account of the healing Pool of Bethesda. // Courtesy of Moses T. Alexander Greene

 

“As a New Yorker, I grew up seeing theater in New York from a young age,” Greene said. “I can say we have some of best talent right here in the Triangle. How awesome it is to have them agree to do this original piece with me and blow the minds, socks and spirits off of the audience.”

But the cast won’t just be delivering lines — they’re also performing original music by Greene. He estimates 80 percent of the music in “POOLED” is original; others will be crowd-pleasers many will recognize.

The songs include hip-hop, gospel and R&B, and Greene’s favorite is the last one, a song he wrote called “Rewoven.”

“We are all waiting for the pains in our lives to be part of a tapestry so beautiful we don’t even recognize it,” he explained.

After the premiere, Greene has plans to take the show on tour to theaters and churches around North Carolina and the country — he’s considering traveling to Maryland, New York and even Nebraska.

He hopes “POOLED” opens doors for other playwrights of color.

“There are so many stories that playwrights who live in the Triangle have to tell,” Greene said. “I am challenging Raleigh to let its stages reflect the diversity of the city.”

“POOLED” presented by Deb Royals-Mizerk and Li V Mahob Productions in partnership with Theatre Raleigh

Where: Kennedy Theatre in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E South Street, Raleigh, NC
When: February 16 to 18 (matinee and evening performances)
Tickets: $26 ($23 with senior, student or military discount); purchase here
More info: RSVP to the Facebook event here

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