JOURNEY THIS: Seeing this Play is a Political Act
Sometimes art is so powerful, so courageous, it unsettles you, startles you awake, makes you re-think your world view, and you can’t shake it.
Veteran New York stage actress, the beautiful, incomparable Cheray O’Neal, has created just such a piece with her virtuosic one-woman show, the critically acclaimed, two-time NAACP Theater Award-nominated Journey This, which was just extended at the Lounge Theater in Los Angeles, with Marlene Forte directing, and Gary Miles, and This is Us star Ron Cephas Jones executive producing.
Forte’s deft directorial hand elevates Ms. O’Neal’s uncanny ability to transform her lithe, agile body and raspy, textured voice, to sing, to dance, to speak in poetry and prose alike, fluidly transporting the audience through time.
O’Neal turns her heart inside out, unraveling the sometimes hilarious, sometimes excruciating legacy of a character named Journey, who is clearly O’Neal herself. Journey is the daughter and granddaughter of powerful, complex, gorgeous, regal, witty, fierce, creative, talented African-American women who no longer walk the earth, but appear to, through the medium of Ms. O’Neal.
The ghosts of her revolutionary mother, who died of breast cancer, and her glamorous, straight-shooting grandmother, who raised O’Neal as much as anyone did, come to life through O’Neal’s masterful embodiment of them. She begins as their charge and ends as their caretaker. In homage to her mother, O’Neal has brought on the American Cancer Society and Lyrical Hair as philanthropic partners.
O’Neal also inhabits the hurtling, eager daring of her childhood self with a heartrending humor that makes the theft of her innocence in a superbly executed, unimaginably brave scene all the more shattering.
The empathy the show’s heroine exhibits for the mistakes of her matriarchs, for her younger self, and even for the men who victimized her, reveal the challenge behind the show’s title. Journey This – dare to live through this, to grow through this, to turn karma into dharma, poison into medicine, victimization into a goddess-like power, as only a black woman can and so many black women do. Every day. Throughout the diaspora.
Journey This transcends buzz words like #MeToo, elevating experiences too many women endure to the level of mythology and divine redemption.
It is a work that deserves publication, national and world tours, a long run at a major venue, and an HBO or Netflix special. Cheray O’Neal is a once-in-a-generation artist who deserves a global audience and all the awards.
Do not deprive yourself of the opportunity to witness her at work.
Extended performances of Journey This:
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 18th
2PM and 7PM
THE LOUNGE THEATRE
6201 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90038
65 mins no intermission
Group/discount rates available
Co-Executive Producers: Kaitlin Washburn, Ron Cephas Jones
Director: Marlene Forte
Co-Producer: Ray Ford
Stage Manager: Giselle Fernandez
Lighting Brandon Baruch
Choreographer/Co-Producer: Tovaris Wilson
Graphics/Co-Producer: Rick Alonso
Associate Producers: Kim Estes, Timothy Starks