By Charles Smith
January 7 – February 8, 2015
Knock Me a Kiss is a fascinating, but fictional account of the 1928 marriage of W.E.B. DuBois' daughter to one of Harlem's most talented poets. The marriage marked the height of the Harlem Renaissance and was viewed as the perfect union of African-American talent and beauty, but the union of man and woman failed. This powerful play exposes the tragically flawed error in judgment by one of the greatest intellects of the 20th century.
|VIDEO: Director Chuck Smith and playwright Charles Smith share their insights into the play, Knock Me A Kiss and the WBTT version.|
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
^Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
Smith & Smith’s Celebration Kiss
On the stage of the American theatre, there is little to no room for two characters with the same name. Even so, for over 25 years, playwright Charles Smith and I (director Chuck Smith) have managed to remain on the boards, both of us in major roles.
Charles and I are both from the south side of Chicago and have been close friends since first working together on an award-winning local television project in the mid-1980s. Charles was a professor at Northwestern University and I was artistic director of a small professional black theatre company located in Chicago’s “hood.” Our first theatre project together was in 1999 workshopping his play, Knock Me A Kiss, at the Victory Gardens Theatre. This led to a successful January 2000 production. Charles had recently left Chicago for a major position at Ohio University and I had been appointed to the artistic staff at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. While the Chicago “Kiss” world premiere was a critical and box office success, even drawing Oprah to the theatre, it never sparked another major production. After ten years of waiting, I decided to risk an Off-Off Broadway production in New York that produced the same results: great reviews, including a rave in the New York Times; full houses; and literally sweeping New York’s ADULCO Black Theatre Awards, but still no interest from Off Broadway producers. Fortunately the production was invited to the 2011 and 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, where it was seen by a multitude of African-American theatre companies. The play has enjoyed productions across the nation ever since.
I am extremely grateful to Nate Jacobs and the WBTT organization for inviting me to direct this production, which will, upon its January opening, mark the 15-year anniversary of the Charles and Chuck Smith Knock Me A Kiss collaboration. It also will give us a very special reason to celebrate our birthday this year, I’m older but Chuck and Charles were born on the same date,
Thank you Sarasota,