Back for a second year of exciting entertainment, Santa Fe College’s My Brother’s Keeper presents the new hit dramedy, “Keeping My Brother,” written and directed by Barry S. McLeod.
Be sure to get a good seat and enjoy the lives of seven SFC students as they learn to keep their “eyes on the prize” with all the challenges that can ruin an education. Life is what you make it, and that point is well illustrated in this play mixed with irony, a bit of agony, and a whole lot of laughter.
“This play is set on the Santa Fe campus and the characters are students in the My Brother’s Keeper program, each with their own unique problems,” said Mardell Coleman, the play’s producer. “One student’s parents are getting divorced, another stutters, another is responsible but intolerant of others, and more interested in pursuing girls than an education.”
McLeod facilitates the Barber Shop discussion sessions held by MBK, a mentoring program for male African American students, and has worked with MBK since its inception. He based his play on his observations and national research about the challenges faced by African American males in school.
“This is a very good production for Father’s Day in terms of how the young people are representing themselves — their growth, overcoming obstacles, and making commitments to be productive and make something out of themselves,” said McLeod, a popular local playwright. “They are very concerned about their education and getting through the distractions that can take place in a student’s life and how important it is to stay focused and continue to excel.”
Andre Strong, 19, plays the character D-2 — a young man who hangs back socially because he stutters. Strong said acting in the play has made him realize our tendency to avoid those who are different and that it doesn’t have to be that way.
“It’s a very fun production, it talks about real situations that happen in school and out of school,” said Strong. His major is criminal justice; he’s already graduated from SFC and starts as a junior at the University of North Florida in August.
Mike Hutley, associate registrar at SFC, plays the role of Mr. Green, the director of MBK. (In real life he is also the director of MBK.) He said it’s been a fun experience to work with the students in a different setting.
“It’s not the Mr. Hutley role I’m in throughout the day,” he said. “It’s kind of good to not be Mr. Hutley and to do this and have fun with them. They can see me in a little bit different light.”
Pamela Lillie, 26, plays Kerri, a high achieving, academic, disciplined young woman who has it totally together. But she still gets dragged into issues when she tries to help one of her girlfriends.
SFC Fine Arts Chair Alora Haynes makes a cameo appearance and Bill Wright plays SFC President Jackson Sasser. The play ends with the MBK banquet and the president delivering a very short speech. Just like in real life, the students take turns talking about what they learned while in MBK.
“This play educates and informs the community about Santa Fe and MBK, and it provides multiple opportunities for engagement for our students,” said Coleman.
Last year, McLeod wrote and directed the MBK play, “Step Daddy.” They performed to full houses and hope to again this year.
In “Keeping My Brother,” just when the mountain seems a bit too steep to climb, “education” reigns supreme.
Every family, especially those with teenagers, should see this play.
McLeod recommends young people attend it with the people in their lives who’ve been the most supportive.
“For anyone who has a parent or a guardian or especially a father, someone who has really been there for them, it makes for a good opportunity to treat them to an afternoon or evening out to enjoy a free, well put together theatrical production.”
Shows and Admission
There are two shows open to the public and free of charge at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, June 20 in the Building E Auditorium at the Northwest Campus, 3000 NW 83rd St., Gainesville. Contact Angela Carter at 395-3801 for more information.
- Barry S. McLeod, playwright and director, 215-8397 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mardell Coleman, producer, 395-4474 (office) or 281-1114 (cell) or email@example.com
- Julie Garrett, for help facilitating your story, 395-5430 (office) or 870-2924 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org