Teacher & Playwright, Kenthedo Robinson, has taught English and Theater in the New York School system for twenty five years. He taught creative writing at the College of New Rochelle and Empire State College. Concurrently, he has directed, produced, acted, and especially wrote for the theater. His latest added a healthy dose of spirituality into a murder mystery plot.
Bey & Charles’ son is found dead at the door of their church… only the Lord knows why… for now. Join us as we solve the murder mystery by Kenthedo Robinson, The Divine Assignment.
Performances play The John Cullum Theatre of the American Theatre of Actors, 314 W. 54th Street, NYC on Thurs. April 6 & 13 @ 7pm; Fri. April 7 & 14 @ 8pm; Sat. April 8 & 15 @ 2pm & 8pm; Sun. April 9 & 16 @ 3pm & 7pm. Tickets available on Brownpapertickets.com.
He is founder of The Crystal Image Performing Arts Company, winner of four Dalrymple Awards (the first award given to Off-Off Broadway), presenter of this drama. His cast includes Laurie Avant & Phillip Iweriebor as the Allmans; Stefon Thompson as Sedgrick Furbert, Ms. D as Reverend Virginia Tate, and Timothy Walsh as Detective White. As if he’s not busy enough, Kenthedo is also one of the production designers.
Before his opening in a couple of weeks, we asked Mr. Robinson so enter our confessional.
Tell us about the play. Why did you write it? … and what does the title mean?
I wrote the play by asking a couple of compelling questions:
- What would have happened if Mary and Joseph had gone to the manager and baby Jesus was not there?
- What would my mother do if someone took my life?
Would she pursue justice or be complacent? Would the family fall apart or become stronger? Would she forgive the person responsible even if the person was a member of the family or neighbor?
The title is inspired from the one law that Jesus left for us that he thought was most important: to love our neighbor as ourselves. Now, I took that divine law and laid it into the hands of a mother who discovers that someone very close to her family has murdered her son. What would she do? Would she still follow the law? Would she forgive him-love him as if he was one of family members, even possibly as if he was her son?
The play obviously has spiritual undertones. Is that something important to you in life?
Yes, the play has a spiritual overtone. I don’t know anybody who is honest, who doesn’t need someone or something that is bigger than them to navigate throughout this life.
However, I have blended a perfect world of the secular and sacred – a blend that surrounds us that we often are not aware of. This becomes a perfect backdrop for the mental state of the main character (Bey) as she tries to balance the scales of her secular and spiritual world after the death of her young son.
You have a history with the American Theater of Actors. How is it to work there.
My history with the American Theatre of Actors goes back to when I first landed in New York from the heartland (Kansas City) in 1980. While working at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, I was introduced to Jim Jennings, owner of ATA. He produced my play, Nicky the Unknown Man, about a boxing coach suffering from brain concussions, whose desire was to develop a boxing champ from the disparaged youth in his community.
What inspires you as an artist?
What inspires me is the many opportunities to take an issue (theme or conflict) or person (character) in life that can be magnified to be an inspiration or light or to help navigate through life.
What’s next for you and for The Divine Assignment.
My ultimate goals are to receive glowing reviews, to have the play published and more so, to inspire people and artists from all aspects of the arts. I am planning to create a TV series from the play. I think this is a great vehicle for TV with each character being common but also intriguing in nature one the backdrop of a rural town.