Carleton Bluford is a member of The Lab at Plan-B, a cadre of 10 local playwrights. He has created roles in Plan-B’s WALLACE by Jenifer Nii, THE THIRD CROSSING by Debora Threedy and MARRY CHRISTMAS by Elaine Jarvik; he will also appear in A/VERSION OF EVENTS by Matthew Ivan Bennett later this season. MAMA, winner of the inaugural Plan-B Theatre grant from The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists, is his first full-length production.
Way back in the day, when cell phones had a limit on texting, so ancient times, I helped create a ten-minute play festival at Weber State University. The students wrote their own plays and the thought of creating a different world that someone would see excited me. Larry Dooley then offered a playwriting class and from that melting pot of creation came the student-written, one-act play festival. Obviously, since I had written a full length play and a number of one acts by then, I assumed that I was a playwright and had some passionate and crazy things to say to the people.
I immediately found the first company I looked up that focused on new plays and submitted everything I had, all the while expecting to be called post haste because of course, once Jerry Rapier at Plan-B noticed my genius, he’d be more than willing to produce my masterpieces. But he didn’t call. What he did do was cast me in a show and then allow me to do a two-year production and marketing internship with Plan-B, along with a two-year playwriting workshop where I sharpened my pen.
I learned a lot about people, responsibility, persistence and faith. During this time period, MAMA was conceived but never really came to fruition until last year with the call for plays in partnership with The Davey Foundation. MAMA was/is a play that was an attempt to show my mother that I understand her sacrifice and how much she means to me. I’m not sure if I ever really thought it would go anywhere. But I’ve found that, love or hate, most people have something to share about their mothers: MAMA is relatable.
MAMA is genuinely the first play I’ve written to thank someone rather than try to impress everyone. It’s surprising to me that that it’s the play people want to see. If anyone knows Jerry, you know he’s a pretty tough critic, I feel blessed that he is confident enough in this show to put it on Plan-B’s season. Not to brag, but that makes me feel really, really cool. It’s been a long time coming . . . hopefully only the beginning.
MAMA receives its world premiere February 12-22, 2015 at Plan-B featuring Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, Cooper Howell, Latoya Rhodes and Elizabeth Summerhays and directed by Jerry Rapier. Part of the Edward Lewis Black Theatre Festival and Black History Month. Click here for more information and tickets.