My attempt at writing a play entitled: The Next Tyler Perry
Speed dating round at local bar in Chicago
Men and Women are sitting across from each other,
trying to make a connection in 30 seconds.
Hi, I’m Eric.
Well, I’m trying this out, I went online and it hasn’t worked out for me, I thought I’d try speed dating. I’m a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company. I like to take walks on the lake front and get into free parties! What do you do?
I’m a director. I direct stage plays…(brief silence)
Oh man! I love plays! I try and catch one when they come to town. So what are you the next Tyler Perry?
(The BELL rings)
Hi, I’m Mark. I’m down to earth, I like walking on the lake front, I like going out to eat. I would consider myself a cultured guy. I even like to take in a play now and then. So tell me about you, what do you do?
I’m a director. Like for the stage? (brief silence)
So you’re like the next Tyler Perry? Wow, that’s unique! You’re artistic…I like that!
(The BELL rings)
I’m not an artistic person at all. I’m more into my business. I hardly get a chance to check out plays or anything like that.
Finally a guy that likes something different. (SHE smiles)
So what do you do?
Oh, a little this and that. I’m a (SHE hesitates) director. Like for the stage?
Oh snaps! Like Tyler Perry? Oh man! I think I’ve met the next Tyler Perry! Yo, Yo! Did you hear this? She’s a director! Wow, that’s so unique, interesting…would you like to go out?
(SAMANTHA gets up from the table)
This is unbelievable!
Yo, baby! What did I say? You too good for me now? You too good? Fa’git you!
Now, this maybe a little fictitious but it’s so real to me! But not the part about speed dating. I don’t care how removed I am from theater in a particular place, time or what have you…I’m always being compared to as “The Next Tyler Perry.” What is that all about? I mean, I’ve been bustin’ my butt for years and no one even knows how difficult it is to make headway in this business. I’ve worked with some very notable people. But as soon as I say I’m a director, I get people trying to compare me to Tyler Perry. As if he is the ONLY person in the world creating theater.
I thought about this for awhile. So what did people call you before Tyler Perry? Well, I remember, I was called…Spike Lee? I often had a dumb-founded look on my face. Spike Lee is a film director. My genre is stage…and just because he’s black and wears glasses, doesn’t mean I’ll follow in his footsteps of being a film director! Ugh, that really annoys me! I’m like, can a sista just be the next Sydney? Why do I have to be the next Tyler Perry?
I’m torn by that comparison. The “next Tyler Perry” indicates that I’ll be making large scale theater pieces moving from one city to the next, charging $50-80 dollars a ticket, poorly written scripts, buffoonish, stock characters, gospel singing and some Transvestite carrying a gun saying “piece be steal!”
On the other hand, I can’t deny the success he has had in making theater popular again to many black people in small Southern communities and large Metropolis cities. He has great marketing strategies, he has gorgeous actors, radio and TV ads and he gives you more for your money…every time.
People just don’t know anything about theater…but yet, they spend their money on a show, buy the newest outfit, pay for parking and get dinner to see one of his shows and still they think they can tell ME something about theater? And that makes me even more upset.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim to know everything and I would never call something that someone put lots of time and work into “bad.” But come on people? Why must I be compared to Tyler Perry? I’m not a 6’5″ black man dating Oprah with millions in the bank. He doesn’t believe in the Actors or Stage Unions. He writes and directs all of his material. Not even allowing someone else with a better eye to come in and collaborate.
He has garnered a few admirers that think that “it’s money to be made, I’m trying to get some!” These Urban Theater plays have popped up all over the place. But I’m so tired of seeing the same stories. The same rough acting, the same gospel songs, the same poorly written scripts and buffoonish, stock characters.
I just want to produce relevant, entertaining theater. I’m concerned about my community in Chicago and Gary as well. I want the audience, the people to participate in helping to create this type of theater. But whenever I say that, I get so much backlash. Oh, people aren’t ready for your “type of theater.” “You need a star in your show if you want people to come and see it.”
Why do I fight with trying to validate of Tyler Perry’s work? Apparently, he has touched many lives. Why does it bother me so much that I’m compared to Tyler Perry? Many will say I’m jealous, he’s got money, fame, a large house, cars etc…you should want the same thing. But has Mr. Perry compromised his own life in order to make a few bucks? Does he ever feel good about the subliminal minstrel-like message(s) that he sends out to the black community as a whole?
I don’t know, I want to be respected for the choices I make as an artist. And not have to put a star from a TV show in my play in order to make a few bucks. Or have a man dress in drag or tight clothes to get a laugh.
I want to be the NEXT SYDNEY CHATMAN…can that even happen?
The stage boss has spoken…leave a comment!