…….and then there’s this play, the simply-yet-powerfully titled, 74 Seconds….to Judgement.
Wonderfully penned by Philadelphia playwright Kash Goins (get to know him), it’s a local theater pearl clutch worthy story about a jury of 6 who have been in pure deadlock for a week straight as they undoubtably struggle to decide what is ‘justifiable homicide‘ in a headline grabbing murder trial.
As relevant as it is, well, pure relevant in today’s frustratingly divided times, it’s not just a must see for you, you, and you (yes, you), but indeed for all of us with major emphasis on the word all….seriously, everyone must go see this play.
Actually, you can go see 74 Seconds..To Judgement as its taken a hold of the stage and the box office at the Arden Theatre Company (right there in Old City!) tonight through Sunday, March 3rd. And if the many sold out dates on the way are indication, you shouldn’t waste any time in getting those tickets here.
The beautifully talented Kala Moses Baxter is just one of the six incredibly gifted actors who are straight owning this production each and every night, and she was gracious enough to take a seat at the Philly Mixtape tea table amongst her busy schedule, where she spilled tea about everything we need to take a sip for for when it comes to 74 Seconds…To Judgement.
Again..go see this show…your 2019 life and beyond will thank you.
Okay, so before we break some local theater mugs about this insanely powerful show, I just want to sip it back for a moment about how you got your start in the acting and entertainment business… I started attending classes at the original Freedom Theater when I was 10 years old. As a child, I wanted to be so many different things…I wanted to be a private eye, all of these different things! Then I realized I just wanted to pretend to be them! And I loved being on stage and in front of people, especially making them laugh. Eventually, I finally decided in my junior year of college that theater was going to be my major…and I’m so thankful that I did!!
Now, onto 74 Seconds…To Judgement.’ I had the esteemed privilege of watching you and your truly incredible cast mates own the stage with this pulsating production, and all I have to say is…wow. But, if there’s one question that’s truly burning my mind…I just have to know…how much Law & Order did you guys watch to mentally prepare and keep it so authentic?? Actually….we didn’t watch a whole bunch of Law & Order! A lot of our prep work was researching a lot of the cases that have dealt with ‘justifiable homicide’ in terms of dealing with African Americans who were killed and the verdict would come out not guilty. We also studied a lot of the laws as well. The law that we’re using in the play is a Florida law that is about 200 years old, and is the same one that was used in the Trayvon Martin case. The playwright also provided us with a lot of information, and for me personally, And I also knew a great deal [about these cases] when they happened, but to revisit them for this particular play was important for not just me, but for my character.
What is hard to dig so deep for this role? Were you able to separate your emotions from the acting? You know what, I didn’t separate myself the acting from myself emotionally. As actors, that’s not really something that we’re able to do….we have to bring our emotion with us. Even in those moments where I’m speaking to [Travoye Joyner‘s character] Brandon, there’s a moment where [we’re acting] and he’s playing my son. I have two stepsons and I always think of their lives as young black men and the possibility that they could go out one night and not come home alive. That [scenario] was real for me, and also watching the pain of the mother that had lost their children, especially Valerie Castile….I watched her a lot. In these moments [in the play] deciding as an actress that it’s real for me in that moment, especially for that character.
Okay, so…there’s a moment in the play…and without giving anything away here because everyone must see it for themselves….where two of the “jurors” get into a slight altercation…okay, big altercation. How intense is it for the cast in that moment? It’s a true turning point in the story, without a doubt… It’s difficult! You can imagine that if this really happened…I would have been like..I’m not doing, I got to go! For that moment, we had stage combat, we have a gentleman named Alex that came in and worked with us. So, as an actor, I’m able to say that we’re all safe and that is important to me. That’s probably a portion [of the show] that in the moment I’m pretending it was real.
All intensity of the show aside, how does the cast let loose after each show? Are you able to at least go out and enjoy a cocktail for a job well done?? We haven’t done it yet, but we’re looking forward to getting together and going out afterwards! Usually, we’re in the dressing room and we’re laughing and talking with each other. We’re a pretty close knit group of people who some of us knew each other, but [everyone else] bonded quickly, which has been great. We also shared our different stories of racism, biases and what we learned growing up. That made a big difference, and of course being able to trust each other. We are looking forward to going out, but we’re all just so tired after each show!
A question I love to ask anyone and everyone….what kind of music is rockin’ your world right now? Actually, my husband and I have an urban gospel radio show called Those Baxters….and we’re syndicated across the country! It’s a mix of Christian hip hop and R&B with some great beats behind them, and that’s what we mostly listen to and hope all of our fans enjoy it, too!
One last sip, now that we’re somehow already in February, there’s no denying that the year is officially moving along. So, sum up your 2019 ambition in one word or phrase… Inspirational.
And there you have it. Thank you, Ms. Kala Moses Baxter.
For much more insight about 74 Seconds…To Judgement, check this out…now.
Video clip courtesy of YouTube & Fox