Washington, D.C.’s “Little theatre that could,” The Anacostia Playhouse will be home to “Record Store 24,” a play by Clayton LeBouef, of “The Wire” renown. The one-act play, set in a record store open 24 hours a day, will be in its first run at the Playhouse with eight shows set to run March 23-31.
“Record Store 24” revolves around a relationship that springs up between LeBouef’s character, who is a record store owner, and Karma – played by Kazie Jones – who is a streetwalker weary of the life she is leading. Celebrating vintage vinyl music and ancestral wisdom, the play takes on the task of connecting current happenings with the healing force of the ancestors.
LeBouef wrote the screenplay 20 years ago but it retains its freshness in its approach to storytelling. “Record Store 24” utilizes Afrofuturist elements that may be familiar to “Black Panther” fans.
Play producer Cheryl L. Hawkins told the AFRO, “It’s about connecting the universe to the earth…the ancestors to the descendants still living.”
Co-directors Cheryl L. Hawkins, of Prosperity Media, and Ella C. Davis, of All About the Drama Theatre Group, women whose work and relationship goes back 30 years in local TV, media and theater, collaborated to produce the play’s run at the Anacostia Playhouse. In explaining the importance of the play Hawkings told the AFRO, “The music in the play was important to both of us and the fact that we are doing it at the Anacostia Playhouse, a small theatre but a very powerful playhouse in terms of the type of the work that comes through.”
Hawkins said the album covers of musicians back in the day would not only include messaging in the music but actual words written on the cover, something missing from today’s music downloads. Hawkins continued, “Clayton, Ella and I come from an era when vinyl was the only way we got to hear ourselves…. Reading the actual messages that artists wrote on the panels was very inspirational to us.”
The play’s dialogue borrows heavily from song lyrics made popular by musicians that have died. “Record Store 24” even takes time to celebrate artists like Afrofuturist Sun-Ra, a musician whose insights many are still coming to comprehend.
The play is written by and stars theatrical triple threat LeBouef, a veteran of the stage and small screen. Likely best known for his on-screen portrayals as Col. Barnfather on “Homicide: Life on the Street” and Barksdale crew frontman Orlando on “The Wire,” LeBouef has also helmed several roles on HBO shows and movies. As with most veteran actors with experience in the theatre, the stage seems to be where the Yonkers-born actor shines the brightest.
LeBouef has been a veteran of the local and Off Broadway theatre scenes for more than two decades. LeBouef found himself in D.C shortly after graduating from Carnegie-Mellon University. There, he worked as a drug rehab counselor during the height of the crack epidemic. While building a reputation as a versatile actor and artist, he joined the club scene as a deejay, spinning records for places like the Ed Murphy’s Supper Club and the French Underground where he would later draw inspiration from for “Record Store 24.”
LeBouef’s first play, “Tied-Apart: A Story of Singers, Students, and South Africa”— which he wrote, directed and acted in— was recognized by the African National Congress during their fight against apartheid. In an interview with “Undefeated”, actor Isaiah Washington lauded LeBouef as one of the artists that influenced him in the theatre scene during his brief stint at Howard University. LeBouef’s other written works including “Teach Hard,” “The Livication of Henrietta Vinton Davis” and “Whirlwind” reveal an artist skilled at telling stories with universal significance.
Fans of Afrofuturism, LeBouef, or great local theatre can catch “Record Store 24” at the Anacostia Playhouse starting March 23 at 8 p.m. Talk backs for the play are scheduled for March 24 and March 30 for those looking to engage with the minds behind the play. Tickets available at www.anacostiaplayhouse.org.