"KELVIN ROSTON, AS DONNY HATHAWAY, 

KNOCKS IT OUT OF THE PARK"

DC Theatre Scene

The Baltimore Center Stage and Congo Square Theatre Company in association with The Apollo

Theater and Mosaic Theater Company of DC

Presents

TWISTED MELODIES

Written by and starring Kelvin Roston, Jr. 

Directed by Derrick Sanders ​
At the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lang Theatre 
 
June 19–July 21, 2019

Witness the troubled and brilliant 70s soul legend Donny Hathaway's last day on Earth. Torn between the muses that inspire him and the mental illness that torments him, Hathaway evaluates the choices in his life in a gripping performance by Kelvin Roston, Jr. 

"[Roston's] brilliant portrayal gives Twisted Melodies soul."

Baltimore Sun

PRESS

“One of the most emotionally packed finishes on a Washington stage this year”

The Washington Post

“Twisted Melodies touches the core of compassion and sings its own song. Don’t miss this one.

DC Metro Theater Arts

“There's a transcendent moment in which the audience and performer are one, singing and clapping and getting a groove on”

DC Metro Theater Arts

“★ ★ ★ ★”

MetroWeekly

DATES

indicates a post show discussion immediately following the performance
*

ACCESSIBILITY

WEEKDAY MATINÉE

8pm Friday, July 19

ASL Interpreted Performance, Open Captioned Performance

​​

3pm Saturday, July 20

ASL Interpreted Performance, Open Captioned Performance

ASL Interpreted Post-Show Discussion

​​

8pm Saturday, July 20

Open Captioned Performance

11am Thursday, July 11

(with post-show discussion)

 

ARTISTS

Click the images for more information on each artist

Kelvin Roston Jr.* 
Playwright, Donny Hathaway
Derrick Sanders
Director
Tiffany Fulson
Assistant Director
Kelvin Roston Jr.
Music Director
Courtney O’Neill*
Set Designer
Christopher M. LaPorte
Sound Designer
Alan C. Edwards*
Lighting Designer
Dede Ayite*
Costume Designer
Mike Tutaj*
Projections Designer
 

DISCUSSIONS

8PM THURSDAY, JUNE 20

Creative Team

Tiffany Fulson Assistant Director

Kelvin Roston Jr. Writer and Performer, Twisted Melodies

Derrick Sanders Director

Ari Roth Mosaic Founding Artistic Director

3PM SATURDAY, JUNE 22

Artistic Incubator: Nurturing Talent at Howard University

Dr. Anthony W. Randolph Chairman, Howard University Department of Music, composer, theorist, and pianist

Saïs Kamalidiin, Ph.D. (Ethnomusicology) Professor of African and African American Music History at Howard University for 20 years
Victoria Murray Baatin  Associate Artistic Director, Mosaic Theater Company

3PM SUNDAY, JUNE 23

The Stigma (and Discrimination) Surrounding Mental Illness

Steve Luteran, LICSW Clinical Director at McClendon Center serving adults with mental health issues

Kelvin Roston Jr. Writer and Performer, Twisted Melodies

Rebecca Cohen Mosaic Director of Development

8PM THURSDAY, JUNE 27

HBCU's: A Home for Black Artists

Denise J. Hart, MFA Associate Professor, Howard University Department of Theatre Arts; Managing Editor, Continuum : The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance

Ari Roth Mosaic Founding Artistic Director

 

3PM SATURDAY, JUNE 29

Millenium Arts Salon: Donny Hathaway the Artist

Preston Sampson Visual Artist

Caleen Sinnette Jennings Professor of Theatre at American University and a five-time Helen Hayes Award nominated playwright, most recently for Queens Girl in Africa

Mel Hardy Millennium Arts Salon

3PM SUNDAY, JUNE 30

Donny Hathaway's Impact on the DC Music Scene

Jez Kline Mosaic Director of Marketing

 

8PM WEDNESDAY, JULY 3

Blackness and Consciousness in the Music of Donny Hathaway

I. Augustus Durham, PhD 2018-2020 President's Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of English, University of Maryland at College Park

Kelvin Roston Jr. Writer and Performer, Twisted Melodies

Shirley Serotsky Public Programming, Mosaic Theater

3PM SATURDAY, JULY 6

When Mental Health Struggles Impact a Family

Dennis Hobb Executive Director, McClendon Center (preparing people recovering from mental illness to improve their quality of life)

Cheryl Maxwell, MHS, MNML, CSC-AD Program Manager, Black Mental Health Alliance

Jean Harris President, NAMI DC

Jan Desper Peters Executive Director of the Black Mental Health Alliance for Education & Consultation, Inc. (BMHA)

Victoria Murray Baatin  Associate Artistic Director, Mosaic Theater

3PM SUNDAY, JULY 7

American Soul Music

Raynetta Wiggins, PhD Manager of Choir Curriculum and Performance at Washington Performing Arts; arts manager, ethnomusicologist, researcher

Kip Lornell Professor of American music and ethnomusicology, GWU

Allison Keyes Award-winning correspondent, host and author; a former national desk reporter for NPR, she has written extensively on race, culture, politics and the arts

11AM THURSDAY, JULY 11

Cast Talkback

Victoria Murray Baatin Associate Artistic Director, Mosaic Theater Company

3PM SATURDAY, JULY 13

Mental Health and The Creative Community

Pamela Pinnock Mosaic Theater Board Member, Former Marketing and PR Director, Busboys and Poets

Dr. Catherine Marshall-Woods Licensed clinical psychologist whose interests lie in the intersection of psychology and media

3PM SUNDAY, JULY 14

Donny Hathaway: The Sacred and the Secular

Maurice Jackson Associate Professor of History and African-American Studies and Affiliated Professor of Performing Arts at Georgetown University

Maya Cunningham Ethnomusicologist and cultural activist

Rev. Delonte J. Gholston Senior Pastor, Peace Fellowship Church

Samuel Gordon Clinical psychologist, MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital

NJ Mitchell Artistic Director of Mt Gilead Performing Arts Ministry and a Board Member of Mosaic Theater Company

8PM THURSDAY, JULY 18

Artistic Incubator: Nurturing Talent at Howard University

Dr. Anthony W. Randolph Chairman, Howard University Department of Music, composer, theorist, and pianist.Performing Arts at Georgetown University

Saïs Kamalidiin, Ph.D. (Ethnomusicology) Professor of African and African American Music History at Howard University for 20 years.

April Carter Assistant Production Manager & Casting Director, Mosaic Theater Company

3PM SATURDAY, JULY 20

More Than Self-Care: Balancing Health and an Artistic Career

Tyler Strusowski Art Therapist

Dr. Jeffery Menzise Associate Professor at the Institute for Urban Research, Morgan State University

Ari Roth Founding Artistic Director, Mosaic Theater Company

3PM SUNDAY, JULY 21

Voices from Within and Without: the Creativity and Loneliness of Donnie Hathaway

Sarah Stern Graphic Designer, Mental Health Positive

Marilyn Williams, LCSW Psychotherapist; Founder of the Median Center for Resilience and Brian Training

Kelvin Roston Jr. Writer and Performer, Twisted Melodies

Dr. Theopia Jackson President-Elect, Association of Black
Psychologists (ABPsi), Inc.

Stephen Stern Co-Chair, Engagement Committee 

 

Psychology of a Genius

A Q&A with Twisted Melodies Writer/Performer Kelvin Roston, Jr.

You've been living with Donny Hathaway and this piece for quite a while now—or it's been living with you; how did that start?

About 11 years ago now, I was working at The Black Rep in St. Louis. I'm originally from there, and I'd really gotten started working in theater with them. At that point, I had gone through all their internship opportunities, and was working as the tour manager for their mobile educational shows. We would take scaled-down productions around the city to schools, youth centers, shelters, wherever. But we always needed material, and as part of the opportunity the theater challenged us each to conceive and devise our own one-person show. Something that could fit into that format, and tour, and be meaningful—have some impact. We called the project "I Stand Alone." And right away, I had this thought of doing something I called "Psychology of a Genius." I wanted something real, and I've always been into music, so I decided to dig into Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Donny Hathaway.

 

So, what happened to the other two? It turned into "Donny Stands Alone..."

Well, the director of the program, who was a real mentor of mine, said obviously that's too much material to cover in a half-hour piece! So I had to cut and focus, and I ended up choosing Donny to focus on. My mother lives with mental illness, so that's very personal for me,  and it's a powerful part of Donny's story of course. I didn't necessarily start out to cover that—it naturally emerged in passing but wasn't the main focus—but obviously it was part of what drew me to the story.

 

How did that 30-minute short turn into the full Mainstage production we have today?

Fast-forward to 2008. I'd moved to Chicago now, and put it on the shelf. You know, you can have your rap, but move to a new place, a new city, and kind of need to reinvent or reintroduce yourself. So I just kept working, making connections to establish myself. Then I became an Artistic Associate at Congo Square [with Derrick Sanders, director of this production]. They encouraged me to dig out the piece and keep exploring it, both as a writer and a performer. I went on to perform it in public, trying it out and changing it and expanding it along the way.

 

What was changing, what did that evolution look like?

From the start, I had imagined Donny's last day, last hours, on earth; but I hadn't really focused on mental issues. I followed his career and family and his music and all that, but his mental health wasn't that big a part. And, you know, there's such a taboo around mental illness in America—in Black America, even more so. I guess I was worried or afraid about going into that. But we dove in, and the show and that time with Donny—in his mind and his spirit—really became a safe space for the audience, and me. A place for exploring all the problems and fears and images, and how it actually became part of him and his music, even of his genius.

Then Kwame decided to bring me here and produce the show in Baltimore, and we've kept on exploring and deepening the show, working on the script over the last year. Now it is really a journey inside Donny's mind and heart as well as a look at his musical greatness.

 

It's been such a blessing. I think we all want a purpose, you know; and in this, I think I have found mine.

 
 

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