'Brother's Keeper' depicts survival after teen violence

SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
The cast of I'll be my Brother's Keeper includes Shateria Stokes (front row, from left), Lakesha Everett, playwright Monique Kenney, director JP AUTHOR and Dana Wideman; Lakeiba Davis (middle row, from left), Andrea, Devonte Rollins, Shauna Biles and Matt Calcutt; Rashaun Henley (third row, from left), Bobbye Mathews II, F Durty, Chris Garris and Erik Washington. The show will be presented at 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 16 at Imperial Theatre.
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Augusta-area listeners of Clear Channel Radio’s Power 107 and 96.3 FM stations are familiar with the drive-time personality “Miss Monique.”

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Shauna Biles, who is a gospel singer, runs through a scene during rehearsal for I'll Be My Brother's Keeper.    SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Shauna Biles, who is a gospel singer, runs through a scene during rehearsal for I'll Be My Brother's Keeper.

Monique Kenney, as she is formally known, is also a playwright and will present her third live theater production at the Imperial Theatre on June 16.

I’ll Be My Brother’s Keeper is a story about about teen violence and was inspired by a national story about a boy who swallowed cocaine when his older brother told him to to avoid arrest. The younger boy died.

“Most of my productions typically relate to situations that I’ve experienced or about situations that I’ve learned from others,” Kenney says. “This is all about awareness – perhaps young people will learn, and in this case, that drug use is not only a poor choice, but it can also be fatal.”

The production stars comedian Tyler Craig and will feature inspirational music, including gospel singers Olaundra Grace and Shauna Biles, in additonal to other gospel talent.

Kenney says the production also depicts the lives of two sisters who survive personal struggle but ultimately, are able to revive their familial relationship.

“This play is not all about drama. I like to dub this as a ‘dramadey’ – that’s because significant parts of it are funny and I usually try to infuse comedy when I can,” Kenney said. She likes to utilize newcomers who might not have stage experience but have the enthusiasm and passion for success.

“Here in Augusta, we have lots of unused or undiscovered talent. It’s my role to provide an opportunity for people and to open doors for folks who may never get a chance to star in a live theatrical performance,” she said, adding that her goal is to stage two plays in Augusta each year.

She says she is influenced by her mentor, Los Angeles playwright and filmmaker David E. Talbert. She also credits Augusta playwright Tyrone Butler and his wife, Judith, for their pioneering role as founders of the Augusta Mini Theater, a 37-year theatrical institution.

“Mr. Butler is an inspiration – an Augusta treasure – and I appreciate everything his company has done to grow live theater in Augusta,” said Kenney, who would also like to infuse live theater into the Richmond County school system.

“I believe there is room for this variety of drama in the schools to uplift and educate our student population. It can only help the many young people who are reaching out,” she said.

The play is being directed by JP AUTHOR, an Atlanta native and new resident of Augusta. He worked as a production assistant on the films Footloose and Joyful Noise and most recently worked alongside Tyler Perry on the upcoming film The Marriage Counselor.

The production is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz of Augusta.

ONSTAGE

WHAT: I’ll Be My Brother’s Keeper

WHEN: 3 and 8 p.m. June 16

WHERE: Imperial Theatre, 749 Broad St.

TICKETS: $23.50 or $26.50; group rates available

MORE: raisinaj.com, or (706) 664-6510; imperialtheatre.com or Imperial Theater box office, (706) 722-8341

OFFSTAGE

WHAT: Cast Meet & Greet

WHEN: 5:30-9:30 p.m. June 9

WHERE: Legends Club, 2701 Washington Road


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