Word Reading: Gentrified

December 1-21
Written By Levy Lee Simon
Directed By Justin Lord

GENTRIFIED – Metaphor of the Drums is set in contemporary Harlem, USA. When Reggie Green, a lifelong African-American resident of Harlem, meets Shannon, white female resident of the new Harlem, it causes an exploration of culture, race, economics, history, sex, and more, that takes us on a journey of the past, present and future, filled with drama, comedy, the absurd and magic.

Multiple award-winning writer, actor, director, and producer, Levy Lee Simon is originally from Harlem USA, and a graduate of the University of Iowa Playwright’s Workshop, MFA. His award-winning plays include: the For the Love of Freedom – the trilogy, produced by the Robey Theatre Company & Greenway Arts Alliance, LA. (Two NAACP Nominations for Best Playwright and an Ovation Nomination for Best Full Length Play) The Bow Wow Club, (Lorraine Hansberry/Kennedy Center Award – Best Full Length Play & National Black Theatre Festival selection) Same Train, Algonquin Productions. (OOBR Award – Best Play) Smell the Power (New Voices Playwriting Award- Best Play) and, The Guest at Central Park West, The Workshop Theatre and the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players. (Audelco Award – Best Playwright and Dramatic Production of the Year.) Other plays include: The Stuttering Preacher, Caseload, God the Crackhouse and the Devil, (Circle Repertory LAB) The Last Revolutionary (Theatre/Theater, LA) The Magnificent Dunbar Hotel, Gentrified – (The Robey  Theatre Company– 29 straight sold out performances) Gentrified – Metaphor of the  Drums, and Fractured. He was recently invited into the Actor’s Studio  Playwright/Director’s Unit, aka PDU. During the year of covid he’s had zoom readings of his plays; The Guest at Central Park West and Gentrified Metaphor of  the Drums. And, he wrote his latest play, Fractured.

Optioned screenplays: The Bow Wow Club – FOX Search Light, DAD – Forty  Acres and a Mule, The Guest – MoJo Films, God the Crackhouse and the Devil – Crackhouse LLC. His feature film, The Last Revolutionary, premiered at the Pan  African Film Festival 2017, and can now be seen on Amazonprime.com. He has  been involved in developing several TV shows inclusive of, Central Avenue centering around the jazz era in LA during the 1930s and 40s.

As an actor, Levy Lee has performed On Broadway, Off Broadway, Regional  Theatres, and the Caribbean. He was a cast member of the Pulitzer Prize  Winning-Tony Nominated – The Kentucky Cycle and the England production of  Ms. Ever’s Boys at the Barbican and Bristol Old Vic. In 2020 he debuted in his first solo show, Odyssey – Race and Racism, which was live streamed on the net to  audiences nationally and internationally.

His directing credits include; With a Little Help – It’s John Belushi by Jack  Zullo, (Theatre 80 NYC,) The Bow Wow Club, (Marietta Theatre, Atlanta,) Amiri  Baraka’s Dutchman, (National Black Theatre Festival)Javon Johnson’s Breathe, (Greenway Arts Alliance and NBTF) and, Leftovers by Josh Wilder at the Great  Plains Theatre Conference.

Levy Lee, as he prefers to be called, is a proud artist/thespian always seeking to  create work that entertains while inspiring and motivating change.

Justin’s background as a actor (numerous TV, Film, Theatre “Division Street” (Broadway) and musician lead to directing. His directing career started at American Theatre Arts in California.  There he directed Sam Shepard’s “Cowboy Mouth”, Conrad Bishop and Elizabeth Fuller’s “Full Hookup” and his adaptation of Harry Kondoleon’s “The Brides”. The Skylight Theatre: Leonard Melfi’s  “The Shirt”, James McClure’s “Pvt Wars” (West coast premiere). Luna Playhouse (Glendale Ca.) Harold Pinter’s “Mountain Language”, Inner City Cultural Ctr.  Los Angeles: JD Hall’s “Loot”, “G/E”, “Jubie” (Theatre 40).  Joslyn Luckett’s “Rupture, Runnin’ Through Risk, Runnin’ to Bliss, Stella Adler Theatre LA (HBO New Writers, National Black Theatre Festival Winston Salem NC). Town Street Theatre: Sheri Baily’s “Summers In Suffolk”. Los Angele Drama Critics Nomination: Jean Reynolds’ “Dance With Me” (Working Stage, LA).  New York Productions:  Joyce Sylvester’s “Mercedes”, Nomination: Best Director of a Drama Vivian Robertson Adelco. TR Riggins’ “Otis & Zora”, Nomination: Best Director of a Drama Vivian Robertson Adelco. Al Boswell’s “The Good Fights” (NBT). Adrienne Kennedy’s “Motherhood 2000” “Secret Paragraphs About My Brother” (Racca’s Seaport Salon prods. Pace University)  Celeste Bedford Walker’s “Camp Logan” (York College).

Justin Lord is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.

“Gentrified – Metaphor of the Drums”

video edited by Anthony MW Cook