Theater Preview: Before It Hits Home at RTP
Cheryl West’s ‘Before It Hits Home’ continues Richmond Triangle Players’ 20th Anniversary season on Thursday, January 24, after a reduced price preview on Wednesday, January 23rd.
‘Before It Hits Home’ tells the story of Wendal, a black bisexual jazz musician whose closeted life endangers himself and his loved ones when he returns home to reveal his AIDS diagnosis to his family. The news of this turns his family’s world and views of their son upside down bringing out the true nature and bond of what it means to be a family.
“The play is really about relationships with your intimates, with your families, extended families,” Thomas Nowlin said. Nowlin plays Douglas, the love interest of Wendal, and explained the dual nature of their closeted life; balancing a family, wife, children, and a boyfriend.
The first production of BIHH began in 1992 and was lauded for becoming one of the first plays ever written about the African American experience dealing directly with AIDS while including gay themes. Even though it was written in the 90′s it’s message is as important as ever.
Shanea Taylor, the director of RTP’s production, spoke of the urgency of awareness, “from a study in 2010, the largest group of new AIDS cases are young African American men between the ages of thirteen and twenty-four and this is because of the lack of resource, the lack of communication. I think that it [Before it Hits Home] will open some doors and hopefully a dialogue about how we can get some of those resources out.”
Taylor said that being gay within the black community is still a taboo subject. “A lot of the African American youth that are coming up can’t be as out as they would like to be.” As a result of this hushed lifestyle, important conversations and information for this small community are missed.
The play becomes more relatable to all families as it progresses. As Taylor put it, “[BIHH] starts to transcend race and culture and we look at it as, ‘Wow, look at this family and the issues that they are dealing with–do I have similarities within mine? How do they deal with it? How could I have this conversation?’ This play has a little bit for everyone.”
The RTP’s theater is nonprofit and doesn’t only cater to the gay community. It does, however, take on the responsibility of telling stories that discuss gay-related issues and themes. The Richmond Triangle Players are committed to coming out.
“Acceptance happens in pockets for those who are loved, but not necessarily a global conversation in the African American community.” Ms. Taylor closes, “For awareness, we need to come together to see this show.”
‘Before It Hits Home’ will run Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8pm through February 9, at RTP’s theater at 1300 Altamont Avenue. Reserved seat tickets ($26 for Opening Night and Friday and Saturday evenings, $21 for all other performances, except for a low-priced $16 preview on Wednesday, January 23) can be purchased online at RTP’s web site at
Get tickets from the RTP website here
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