|Posted on December 16, 2009 at 2:14 PM||comments (0)|
Trio of Washington High graduates started Nu Image Productionz
By SAM HARTLE, Kansan Staff Writer Published: Monday, July 14, 2008 2:03 PM CDT
T. J. Strong’s play, “Just in Love II: Addicted 2 Love,” opens with two characters, Jazzmyn and RaShod, pondering a life in which both are addicted to crack-cocaine.
Ninety seconds later, at the end of the first scene, RaShod, crumpling under the weight of life, commits suicide.
“I wanted to start with high expectations,” Strong said of his play’s opening scene.
The rest of the play, put on by Nu Image Productionz - a production company created by three Washington High School graduates - will debut with a 2 p.m. matinee performance on Saturday, July 26, at the GEM Theater, 1601 E. 18th St, in Kansas City, Mo. A second performance will be held later that night at 8 p.m.
Strong says his play is a continuation of a stage production, “Just in Love I,” that he wrote while still at Washington High School. Both plays seek to bring issues that affected Strong and his family onto a broader stage, but the author says his newest work focuses on more adult issues that he didn’t fully explore in his first play.
“It deals with addiction, rape, suicide - everything that hit close to home,” Strong says. “’Just in Love I’ dealt with a lot of premature ideas like promiscuity and drug use - issues that were more common to my age group.”
But nine years after graduating from Washington and studying theater and speech communication at Kansas State University, Strong says he is ready to explore topics that mean more to more people.
“I started writing [Just in Love II] in 2005, but I could never sit down and focus completely on it,” Strong says. “I didn’t want to force it.”
Strong says many of the ideas in both plays came from the same source: his life.
“I got the material from hanging out with friends or out in public - there are a lot of real life-issues in it.”
While the opening scene spares viewers no mercy, the scene is just as much for effect as for substance.
Strong says he views the opening scene of his play as the window to his abilities. To back up the opening scene, Strong and the cast come back from the drama and preview a more humorous scene where a mother is attempting to discuss sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies with her children, trying to relate her own experiences during a version of “the talk.”
“The whole scene is funny,” Strong says. “We go from one extreme to another, but life happens like that.”
Not Just a Play
While Strong certainly has theater the bug, he’s hoping his ability translates into success for a business partnership, Nu Image Productionz, that he and fellow Washington High School graduates Brian Colon and Adrian Hamilton created earlier this year.
Colon, a researcher at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and Hamilton, a liberal arts major and specialist in film and video production from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, are 1992 Washington graduates.
“We’re all from Washington and wanted to come back,” Colon says. “We started talking about it a couple of years ago and after connecting the dots, things started to come together.”
Colon and Strong are first cousins, and even though the two are seven years apart, that bond was enough for Colon to give Strong’s play writing a serious look.
“I heard that he was doing acting (in college),” Colon said. “Once I saw it, he sent me some scripts and I said, ‘We’ve got something.’”
The trio hopes this month’s play will be the springboard for loftier projects in the future. Hamilton’s background is in documentary filmmaking, something Nu Image hopes to get into in the coming years.
“I’ve worked on a number of documentary films,” Hamilton said, adding that the “play aspect is something I’m excited to be a part of.”
For Colon, the company, officially founded in January of this year, offers the trio the ability to bring serious arts back to the greater Kansas City community, including Kansas City, Kan. He envisions a renaissance festival, similar in style to Bonner Springs’ Renaissance Festival, but different in substance, instead highlighting the urban environment of the 1970s.
“We want to bring the arts back to the common guy,” he says.
Whatever future projects the group tackles, it appears to be off to a good start in lining up the renowned GEM Theater for their first production.
“It’s a large responsibility,” Hamilton says. “When you’re given that kind of opportunity, you’ve got to respect that and step up or be gone.”
The group says they’ve had a number of sleepless nights assembling a cast and making sure the production goes as smoothly as possible.
“It has been a struggle, but we assumed that would happen,” Colon says. “It’s just part of what goes on these days.”
They also realize starting big, while potentially rewarding if pulled off, carries drawbacks.
“It’s either going to be something special or you have to go back to the drawing board,” Colon said. “But that’s what we’re all about.”
They know the production company won’t make it big right away, instead describing their vision as a process.
“We’re going to get it done and will be doing it the right way,” Colon said. “It is a process to get to the level we want to be at, but we’ll get there.”
Full Speed Ahead
Strong says the play’s 12-person cast, which relies heavily on local and sometimes rookie talent, has been asked to a lot, rehearsing four days a week. Strong held auditions at Kansas City Kansas Community College late last year, and has been putting the pieces together since then.
“Just putting the play together has been tough for the cast,” Strong says. “We’ve had so many obstacles come into our way, but it will be special to be able to overcome that.”
Though the play has its dramatic moments, the three know the play is just pure entertainment, giving the audience a distraction from reality.
“For those two hours, if we can help people get away from the monotony of day-to-day life, then we did a great job,” Strong says. “If something can help them, then I think that’s OK too.”
Back when he was at Washington High School working on “Just in Love I,” Strong envisioned performing the play at the GEM Theater, but wasn’t able to make it happen.
“I personally feel I have some unfinished business there,” Strong says.
The parallels between Strong’s decade-long theatrical efforts, combined with the messages and subject matter in his productions, are too strong to ignore.
“People go through crazy situations, but the only option is to get through it,” Strong says.
Tickets for the July 26 play are available through ticketmaster.com or by calling the GEM Theater Box office at (816) 474-8463.
|Posted on December 16, 2009 at 2:04 PM||comments (4)|
Diuguid's column: A black writer's thought-provoking play
By Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star Editorial Page columnist
Heads of passers-by turned as T. J. Strong led the actors through warm-up voice, diction and projection exercises at the Bethany Community Center in Kansas City, Kan. That’s where the troupe for months has rehearsed for the July 26 debut of the play, “Just in Love II: Addicted 2 Love.” “Bay, Bee, Bah, Bo, Boo…. Gay, Gee, Gah, Go, Goo….”
These were lessons Strong picked up as a theater major at Kansas State University. I got to know Strong when I studied with the Class of 1999 at Washington High School in Kansas City, Kan. — from the students’ freshman year until they graduated — to learn what it was like to be a teen and teacher.
Tim was the high-energy class vice president who liked to write and act and went on to study theater in college. But life got in the way with its own tragedies and drama, including love gone wrong, a son Strong adores, trouble with the law and now redemption.
I’ve kept long letters and e-mails from Strong. I’ve watched him grow from a teen to a man who fully accepts responsibility for his actions and who has lifted himself up, with the help of family, friends and faith, to the person he has always wanted to be. Over the years he has shared scripts with me that he has written. He wrote “Just in Love II: Addicted 2 Love.”
I’ve always advised him to write what he knows, what he has witnessed and lived. We talked about that over lunch at the Q Brew coffee shop on Quindaro Boulevard, near where Strong grew up. The cast, starting in May at the coffee shop, has performed sneak previews of the play for eager audiences. The troupe rehearses Fridays and Saturdays at the Bethany Community Center for the play Strong directs and acts in.
I have watched many of the early performances and enjoyed seeing Strong make his dream come true. The play is about the everyday struggles of black men and women, their relationships, love for God, each other and the unity of the black family.
Patricia "Rated R" George, a stand-up comic who plays the mother, Sissy, said the play is funny, serious and controversial. “I think the audience is going to get a real strong anti-drug message,” George said. She said she has enjoyed working with Strong, whom she called a young man with “some serious experience.”
Carl “Big C” Hunter, who plays Mac, the father of many flaws, said Strong’s play is poignant in showing the black family’s enduring strength. “No matter what fathers go through, they still hang in there with their families,” he said.
Strong said he wrote the play to appeal to everyday people, but to particularly bring out the value of the black experience in America. The play is to help bridge our many divides with humor, seriousness and drama, which is how Strong has lived.
“This script, it’s real life,” said JacyNicole, who plays Jazzmyn. It’s about everyday people and everyday struggles. People who have seen the previews said they liked the passion and emotion in the play. I think it’s riveting, too.
"It’s got the black church in it, and some parts are sad, others will make audiences gasp and laugh out loud," said Yohannah Angelette Laws, who plays MaShell. “It makes you think a lot,” she said.
Thinking is what more people must do to create a better world for themselves, their families and our community.I am glad Strong has become a playwright and a catalyst for that positive push these many years after class at Washington High School.
Lewis W. Diuguid is a member of The Star’s Editorial Board. To reach him, call (816) 234-4723 (816) 234-4723 or send e-mail to [email protected] Submitted by Lewis W Diuguid on July 1, 2008 - 2:58pm. login or register to post comments | 184 reads
|Posted on December 14, 2009 at 9:56 AM||comments (0)|
The N.I.P. Corporation is proud to announce the launch of our elite women of power group, D.I.V.I.N.E. Diamond Descendantz!
D.I.V.I.N.E. stands for Determined Intelligent Vessels Inspiring New Excellence.
D.I.V.I.N.E. Diamondz's motto: "Define Your Own D.I.V.I.N.E."
The D.I.V.I.N.E. Diamondz is in the initial stages of it's existance. This is a women of power group compiled of women who are beautiful on the inside and out. We understand that beautiful women come in all complexions, all sizes, and all personalities. We seek to give an example of women who use their brains, their hearts, and their souls to achieve honorably. Our theory is just like every diamond is made from a coal but not all coals are made to be a diamond, every Queen comes from a female, but not all females are made to be queens.
The D.I.V.I.N.E. Diamondz are the founders of the B-A-D Boyz & Girlz. N.I.P. will connect the ladies involved with national entertainment (writing, acting, modeling, dancing, singing, rapping, ect.) and business opportunities. The one major annual event in mind for the D.I.V.I.N.E. Diamondz to host is the Women of Power Conference 2010. This will be an annual conference for women of all ages.
If you're interested in representing or supporting the D.I.V.I.N.E. Diamondz please email [email protected] with subject: D.I.V.I.N.E. Diamondz. Send 3-5 pictures, along with a bio of yourself, and tell why you're interested.
|Posted on December 11, 2009 at 11:26 AM||comments (0)|
Nu Image Pioneerz also known as N. I. P was unofficially founded January 19, 2008 in Kansas City, Kansas at the West Wyandotte Public Library under the name Nu Image Productionz. The company began behind the vision of a family that extended beyond blood relation and stretched as far as one’s imagination could go. The family consisting of Carl Hunter, Brian Colon, and Timothy John (all first cousins) came together to form this organization behind the momentum of a play written by Timothy John: Just in Love II: Addicted 2 Love.
Timothy John was the centerpiece of this group being that he was the writer, director, and actor of the play. He first reached out to his cousin Carl who he just began forming a close relationship with due to their 23 year age difference, along with Carl being raised on the Southside of Chicago most of his life. He asked Carl to star in the play and portray their grandfather, Mac. Carl agreed because he felt his cousin’s passion and believed he could help mold his potential.
Timothy John then reached out to his cousin Brian to ask him to help produce the play. Despite their 7 year age difference the two had a fairly close relationship and grew up together. Brian had since left Kansas City and relocated to Nashville, TN. Brian agreed to help with the project and brought in his longtime friend Adrian Hamilton as the Video Producer due to his training and background. All four men saw a great opportunity with N.I.P and agreed to use the play as their springboard.
On January 19, 2008 their journey began as they held auditions for Addicted 2 Love. The auditions were a success in terms of the number of people who attended, but Timothy John hadn’t found all the people he was looking for. He was attached to the project because it was the sequel to his play Just in Love, which he wrote, directed, and starred in in 1998 and 1999. The play was created in dedication to his slain friend Justin Stanley.
They group known as N.I.P spent the next month assembling the cast and staff of Addicted 2 Love and began preparation for the debut of the play scheduled for July 26, 2008 at the world famous GEM Theatre in the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District. (See articles for more details: Black Writer’s Thought-Provoking Play and Trio of Washington High Graduates Started Nu Image Productionz)
The experience of producing a play was new to Brian and Adrian as they had never took on such a task. Carl wasn’t a total stranger to it, being as he had starred in the play Mama Don’t and the movie Heart Of Stone, but those performances had been many years prior and the task of starring in Addicted 2 Love as Mac was a handful under the direction of a perfectionist and seasoned young director. Timothy John had been active the past 10 years writing, performing, and directing but the work behind this production was more than he imagined.
Despite several setbacks including having to replace cast members, lack of funding, and a group of strong-willed leaders who didn’t always agree, N.I.P produced a great show July 26, 2008. The success of the production didn’t come without it’s downfalls. By time all the smoke cleared, Timothy John was left to decide how to continue his dream of being a power player in the entertainment industry.
He decided to start fresh by licking his wound’s, changing the name of the company, and assembling a compilation of new material, new personnel, and a renewed spirit. Now N.I.P is stronger than ever with all the original pieces starting to come back together to find a permanent place in a company solely focused on long term success. Is N.I.P just a production company? No. Nu Image Pioneerz is exactly what the change in name suggests; it is a group of pioneers seeking to positively affect the local and national community through entertainment/productions, community activism, and hands on mentoring.
N.I.P is set to make it’s mark with productions from Timothy John such as Just in Love I: 1 LOVE, Just in Love II: ADDICTED 2 LOVE, Just in Love III: 3 WAY LOVE, God's Love: From Pimp to Preacher, Bishop Brown… LIVE IN HD!, The Richard Pryor Empire, and Purpose Driven Love: The Love of My Life to name a few…
In regards to community activism and mentoring, N.I.P has founded the Divine Diamond Descendantz for women 21 and up. The Divine Diamond Descendantz is a women of power group seeking to develop the power and position of women nationwide. All diamonds come from coals, right? This suggests that all coals were created to be a diamond but not all make it through the pressure. N.I.P takes this ideology and applies it to women. All women were created to be queens but not all make it through the pressure of life. Divine Diamondz will be the driving force behind giving women the knowledge, support, and structure to fulfill their destiny. The Divine Diamondz are the big sisters to the B-A-D Foundation’s B-A-D Girlz for ages 20 and under. (See Divine Diamond Descendantz for more info.)
N.I.P is partner to several community and youth oriented programs with the Believe-A-Dream Foundation. (See The History B-A-D Foundation for more info.)
“Image is Crucial”
The purpose of Nu Image Pioneerz (N.I.P) is to present a consistent and positive image while being a pioneer in the community by bringing people of all backgrounds together to educate, empower, and embrace each other.
The objective for Nu Image Pioneerz is to:
• Utilize entertainment to get the attention of youth and adults to show God’s greatness, reach our full potential, and set new standards of living and giving.
• Achieve a unique, upscale, innovative environment differentiating ourselves from other entertainment companies.
• Educate the community and provide jobs by establishing 10% market share in our first two years and increase to 15 % in our gross margins within the third year of operation.
The major competitive edge is high quality entertainment services that have strong Christian, family, and community messages. We differentiate ourselves through excellent customer service clients will receive from the management team. These efforts will generate good word of mouth among the targeted customer group. As the company grows, special efforts will be devoted to the customer service training of all new employees. The customer comes first will be the core underlying concept and philosophy of Nu Image Pioneerz.
Marketing Strategy Summary
Our customers can come from all age groups, male and female, all races, and every income level. They can be local residents or tourists to the area. That is why our marketing plan will keep everyone in mind. Thus the main factor to our success will be polished products that make a distinctive mark in history for not only entertaining but by delivering life long messages.
Image is a key factor when it comes down to making in roads into the higher echelons of human identity. Nu Image Pioneerz will succeed by offering our clients a product that is founded on Persistence, Fortitude, Humility, Faith, Fearlessness, and an investment in our community.
|Posted on December 11, 2009 at 11:22 AM||comments (0)|
The Believing All Dreams Foundation also known as the B-A-D Foundation was officially founded June 14, 2008 at the KKFI 90.1fm studios while Timothy John was being interviewed by Donna Wolfe on her radio show, Urban Connections. Timothy was there promoting his upcoming play Addicted 2 Love after his cast just got done performing a scene from the play at the Juneteenth Celebration in Kansas City Kansas. To start the interview Donna asked Timothy to tell the audience where he just came from. After sharing his day prior to the interview with audiences, he said, “We can’t forget what Juneteenth is really about.”
That statement in the first 5 minutes of the interview set the tone for the next series of questions along with the rest of the interview. Timothy went on to say how Juneteenth represented the freedom the remaining slaves received while they continued in bondage without knowing prior to the news. From there the questions were more personal to give the audience insight of who the man Timothy John was and where he came from. After explaining the background of the play, he shared with the listeners his vision for the future.
This vision was the B-A-D Foundation that was going to target youth who were labeled bad, who lacked hope, and who had experienced a rough life. Timothy John explained how so many opportunities for youth and adults are dependent too much on having financial resources in order for them to develop their talents. He went on to say how he wanted to open a school that educated, prepared, and developed every aspect of art and skills ranging from acting, singing, writing, dancing to cooking, designing, building, and any skill you can imagine.
The roots of the B-A-D Foundation would be intended to give the youth hope by developing or introducing new skills and positioning them to succeed in life. After hearing this, several callers called in to commend him for his idea but one call Timothy John says he’ll never forget. “There was a guy named ‘Blind Guy’ who called in and said that not only was I on to something but he believed that I had the passion and calling to fulfill my dream.” From that moment the B-A-D Foundation was more than an idea. It was the beginning of a movement.
In July 2009, he partnered with La’Pourchea McConico to create the Joyce Todd B-A-D Foundation Scholarship, in honor of a pioneer in the arts and Strong's mentor. He chose La’Pourchea to help him continue his efforts because of the passion she showed to help people. Since the two first met on a rehearsal set of one of his plays a month prior, she showed strong leadership skills and a connection to the youth. Timothy John chose to name the scholarship after Joyce Todd, founder of JT Productions, because of her influence in his life.
She helped him spiritually, professionally, and financially by sharing her wisdom that she acquired over the years. To show his appreciation, he chose to name the foundation’s scholarship after her. She gladly gave him permission to name the scholarship after her and now the foundation is working to helping as many students as we can.
“One Dream at a Time”
Taking an active part in a unified effort of giving back to the community, providing information, entertainment, and opportunities for our youth to excel in school, work and higher education, while instilling strong family values.
To provide an environment dependent upon service, motivated by faith, dedicated to honorable achievement, and founded on the future: of our youth, our family, and our community.
The Joyce Todd Believing All Dreams Scholarship
The B-A-D Foundation is proud to announce the Joyce Todd Believing All Dreams Scholarship. This scholarship has been created specifically for students who at some point in their lives were labeled bad who have great dreams and who have endured even greater adversity. The B-A-D Foundation has a goal of taking the word bad, along with the students labeled bad, and giving them both a new definition with positive results.
B-A-D Boyz & Girlz
The B-A-D Foundation’s B-A-D Boyz & Girlz is a group designed for ages (20 and under) to train a child in the way they should go. This group is distinctively separate from the foundation, because all of the programs, productions, and events put on under this group’s name will be done completely by the youth. The B-A-D Foundation is backed by the adult staff and is designed to raise money for the scholarship and programs. The B-A-D Boyz & Girlz will host their own events to use the money to made to give directly back to the community. This group will be facilitated by the Divine Diamond Descendantz.