Monday, May 16, 2016
I don't remember much about the day that I decided to go back to school at age 54, except the loneliness I was feeling. The house was empty at the time. All the kids were grown, and it just felt like I had no purpose. The marriage was on the rocks, we hardly talked to one another back then. I was on the phone with my mom, and she suggested I go back to college.
At first I thought, what a crazy thing to suggest, it had been so long since I had entered a classroom. What the hell would I do? What would I pursue? With my knees, how could I possibly get around? She must have used that mother's intuition that we are known to have inhabiting our being, because she said, "stop thinking of all the negatives and just think about it before you decide no".
Well, I figured since I never really listened to my mother when I was coming up, well maybe sometimes, that it might be okay to try a class or two. So I registered. I decided to go to Community College of Philadelphia, I liked their slogan "A Path to Possibilities". When I went in for testing I was informed that I had to take remedial classes in Math and English, which I was also told that most people my age that come back to school need to take these classes. So I didn't feel so alone in my remedial world.
The first degree that I was going to go after was Computer Science, but the math stopped me in my tracks. I never have been good with numbers, except to count money, but words were my love. I found out from my first English Professor, Simone Zelich, about an English degree that was opening up at CCP and I decided to take it, along with the Creative Writing Certificate that was offered. This move dropped me into classes that made me feel like I was in heaven. For the first time in my life I found out that I am what you call a bibliophile. (look it up, I had to)
I met a friend that was my age, and she convinced me to take a Theater class as an elective with her. Well it didn't quite work out that way. You see, I met a woman, Dr. Ardencie Hall-Karambe, that blew me away. The very first day of her Acting class, I went up to her after and asked her could I just follow her throughout my time at CCP, and she said, sure if that's what you want to do. So I added a Theater degree to my list of things I wanted to accomplish at CCP. Dr. Hall, or Doc, as all of her students call her, was the most accomplished black woman that I had ever met, and she had me in awe of her style of teaching and her down-to-earth personality. I knew that not only would she be able to show me how to conduct myself in the academic world, but that I had finally met a friend for life.
So here I was with not one, but three degrees facing me. What the hell was I thinking you may ask? I wasn't thinking about the work. I was actually having fun.
I didn't have the distractions that I had in when I was younger to keep me from accomplishing this goal, so college became fun for me. The new people that I met while attending CCP, from the men at the parking garage to the staff in the Pavilion's Cafe I will never forget the faces. Every morning, each semester for 4 years I would show up smiling and ready to get to work. Don't get me wrong, I had my ups and downs along the way, for instance, I had to repeat my first math class (I cried real tears that day) but I finally passed my math classes.
On May 7th, 2016, I walked with my class down the aisle at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia and Graduated with High Honors. I am not finished yet because in September I will be attending Cheney State University to pursue my Master's Degree.
If you are out there and are wondering if there is life after 50, I am here to tell you HELL YEAH! Come on and get some life!
Monday, March 7, 2016
Philadelphia Artists Welcome the New TCI Theatre Festival
The Think/Create/Inspire Theatre Festival brings a platform to the Philadelphia area that new playwrights will definitely want to strive to be a part of. Created in the mind of Susan C. Small, professional award winning playwright, TCI gives artists in the area an opportunity to show off their talent without the overhead that usually hinders artists who do not have the backing to fund their own venues. The TCI Festival cover the cost of the space, and the advertisements for the shows that are accepted, all artists then agree to split a portion of the sales of all tickets to the venue. TCI’s premiere season runs from March 3rd -March 6th, 2016, and submissions will be open July 2016 for the 2017 season!
Please visit www.scharliproductions.com for more information.
Local artist/playwright/actress Nikki Powerhouse was performing the night I attended the Festival. This Philadelphia native has truly earned her name, Powerhouse. She performed a one-woman show entitled The Art of I Am that could only be described as absolutely phenomenal. Ms. Powerhouse wrote the piece, and it was skillfully directed by Dr. Ardencie Hall-Karambe. Dr. Hall-Karambe put light and sound to the production which enhanced each and every word that Ms. Powerhouse penned. From the onset of the performance you knew you were in for an emotionally charged sixty minutes as Ms. Powerhouse immediately began depicting the birth of herself into the world. There was a hush throughout the sold out 250 seat Venice Island P.A. Center and at the climax of this part of the eight-piece drama, there was not one woman in the crowd that was not in tears, or close to them. After a series of skits that flowed one into the other about life/love/loss/abuse/pain, and reclamation, she bowed to a standing ovation with screams of “Nikki! Nikki!” Look out for this powerhouse performer, I am definitely a new follower of hers.
There was a Q & A right after her performance and we were told that the show would be running again in April during the LGBT festival.