Playwright Andre R. Hogan II
Photo from 2nd Act Players
Playwright Andre R. Hogan II Photo from 2nd Act Players

The 2nd Act Players will present its first online production the evenings of July 24 and 25, titled “More Rivers Will I to Cross -- A look at twin pandemics – Racism & Covid-19.” The streaming presentation will feature two short plays by Chicago playwright Andre Richardson Hogan II, “Raisin Puffs” and “Line of Duties.”

“Raisin Puffs” involves three Black men talking about police assaulting someone they know, while “Line of Duties” involves a Chicago family preparing for the funeral of one of its own, a Chicago firefighter struck down by Covid-19.

“These moving plays deal with the two biggest issues we’re facing in America today, blatant police racism toward African-Americans and the Coronavirus which is killing people and radically changing how we live,” says 2nd Act Players’ Cofounder and creative Director John N. Frank.  “The program’s title is inspired by a Jimmy Cliff song, Many Rivers to Cross, and refers to the challenges society is facing because of the twin-rivers of racism and the pandemic.”                             

Starring in the plays will be Chicago actors Andrew J Eady, Herbert Harper, Jr. and Nicholas Richardson. Mr. Richardson, who last acted with the 2nd Act Players in 2017 during its first new script festival, also will direct both plays.

Mr. Harper is a Chicago native who has acted in theatre, television, film, and digital media productions. His theater credits include "Love Rx" and "Salute" (Expressions Theatre Troupe), and "Needles and Pins" (Armory Free Theatre).

Mr. Eady has acted with the Gorilla Tango Theater and at the Madison Street Theater as well as in films.

“The virus shut down our theater this spring and has left us uncertain when we’ll be able to perform on-stage again, so we’ve opted to go virtual and present these important works online. These are stories that need to be heard now, and they will provide us with a relevant way to raise funds for social justice,” Mr. Frank explains. “80% of all donations from people watching the show will go to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.”

Says director Mr. Richardson, “These plays bring to mind something Malcolm X once said, ‘Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it,’”

Says playwright Mr. Hogan, “‘The theater has to serve a revolutionary function,’ playwright Amiri Baraka once said. Given the themes of racism, violence, courage and unity, I feel that these plays are just the antidotes needed to eradicate any inhumane acts that would distract one from practicing any humane acts that, in turn, will bring about unity for all humankind,”

The production will be online for viewing at 7 p.m. the evenings of Friday July 24 and Saturday, July 26. The Friday show will be followed by a discussion with the playwright and actors about the plays and how they reflect these times.

Admission to the shows will be free, but donations will be encouraged. Eighty percent of all the donations made over the two-night run will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

“This production allows us to continue in our role of featuring new voices for the stage in plays that look at key 2nd acts in people’s lives,” says Mr. Frank. “We excited to be performing again in a socially relevant way.”