A Write-up about “Relationship Games” from The Chicago Defender

Sydney Chatman, Tiffany "New York" Pollard and Safia Bernard (producer)VH1’s New York brings love ‘Games’ to Arie Crown
by Anita P. Bryant

When it comes to romantic relationships between men and women, the word “games” automatically comes up, for some reason. Hearts get stolen, broken and emotions fly in many different directions.

Relationship Games is a play written and produced by Safia Bernard, and explores the drama of three men and three women who are playing the love game–with all the cards stacked against them.

Tiffany Pollard, 26, who is best known as the VH1 reality television vixen “New York,” leads the cast playing the fierce beauty Jacqueline. The world has seen New York battle for the affection of Flavor Flav on Flavor of Love, only to fall short.

She has even tried creating love twice on her own hit show I Love New York. She said she gets to bring a lot of reality to her character on stage, but New York wants to let her new character shine this time. “I am so excited to be a part of this play,” New York said. “Jacqueline is from the South Side of Chicago.

She’s a go-getter. She knows what she wants and she will stop at nothing the to get what she wants.” “I think every woman can relate to being like Jacqueline at some point in their life, so it is fun for me to be her and rehearse as Jacqueline, because I can relate and I know every woman can relate.” New York said her character is a lot like her, in real life.

Jacqueline likes to be noticed by the men. “Jacqueline is definitely strong enough to stand on her own, so I just want everyone to see her for who she is–her struggle, where she is trying to go in life. So, New York is going to take a backseat to Jacqueline, but she’ll still be in the house,” she said. The play is set at an upscale health club on the North Side.

After breaking a sweat from intense aerobics and weight training, three men get into a conversation about the opposite sex while relaxing in the steam room. The chat turns into a heated debate and leads to a male ego trip with the men trying to prove who has best method to get a woman to fall in love with him. The trick is to keep their feelings out of the mix.

But true love is also trickster. “It started just from my personal experience going to a health club and being in a steam room,” Bernard said about writing the show, adding she use to hear men discussing these issues with each other. “It’s not just about the men and the games that they are playing in relationships, it’s also about women and the games that they play with each other and the relationship that they have,” Bernard told the Defender.

Bernard explained that this show is very important to all involved in making the production take flight here in Chicago. Her daughter Daarina Marie, 22, is the associate producer and local director and educator Sydney Chatman have worked very hard to make this show very special from the start. Their goal is to bring realism and “Goodman Theatre meets urban theatre” quality to the Black community’s stages.

Chatman added that her mission is to breathe new life into the historical roots of live stage theatre for the next generation of African American theatergoers. She added that this play gave her the chance to experiment with new staging techniques. She wants to offer the audience a different type of show. There will be singing, dancing, humor and, of course, drama, but no buffoonery in this show, Chatman said.

She also wanted to bring out the soul of the characters through her directing. “We are playing intention. There are layers to these characters that may not be necessarily written in the script, but through exploration, we have to find the back stories for those characters, so we are playing a lot of subtext,” Chatman said.

Theatre lovers will have to go see the show to uncover the master game plan of the six characters. Relationship Games is at the Arie Crown Theatre, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., for two nights only. Performances are, March 14 and 15 at 8 p.m. each night. Tickets are $37.50-$55.00 and can be purchased at Ticketmaster outlets or at the Arie Crown Theater box office.

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