The DC Black Theatre & Arts Festival
The Actual Dance is an award-winning play that has moved audiences to laugh, cry and then cheer for five years. A love story with a happy ending, The Actual Dance is told through the eyes and heart of a husband as he struggles with his worst fears in what everyone expects to be his wife’s losing battle to breast cancer.
In the hour-long performance, and with original music, the story takes the audience on an emotional but uplifting journey that rewards them with an unexpected happy ending, and a universal, life-affirming lesson of hope and faith.
The Actual Dance is a graceful and inspiring love story. It is theater that opens a rare window into the mind and soul of a husband and caregiver. Audiences are transfixed as the actor weaves in and out of a mystical ballroom getting ready to do what he could not imagine.
When first noticing his wife at the age of sixteen, Sam could not predict the profound connection they would share—they are two halves of the same whole. In their 33rd year of marriage, that love was tested…and the ringing in Sam’s ear was not as one would expect, in fact it was an orchestra, playing the music of his life--The Actual Dance.
Written by Samuel A. Simon Choreographer/Director by Kimani Fowlin Dramaturg Gabrielle Maisels
Original Music composed by Eli Katz Zoller
Introducing Samuel A. Simon:
The Actual Dance has been inside me for a long time, I just did not know it. It has been unfolding for about five years, as elements of the show have appeared through my work with Artistic New Directions and teachers Carol Fox Prescott, Gary Austin and Jeffrey Sweet.
Elements of the show have been discovered along the way. One major character in the show, the breast surgeon, was developed during a Gary Austin workshop called the 48th Street Exercise. The Ballroom metaphor came together in Carol Fox Prescott’s acting classes.
The Actual Dance became full-born when I hired Gabrielle Maisels as my dramaturg and she guided me through completing the work. And since completing in chief the script in June 2012, I have learned that the show itself has a deep gift within it – and that each time I perform I learn new things about the work and the gift.
It has broad appeal and presents a point of view that is almost never heard. It is the man’s story and voice in the breast cancer experience. It is a love story. And it is a story that explicitly talks about confronting the most dreaded possible experience – taking the person you love most in the world through the end of life. It isn’t about their story—it is about “How do I do this? How do I dance the last dance with (Susan)?” It is about moving from the fear of a “devastating and tragic experience” to an understanding of “the beauty and dignity” of the gift of the Actual Dance and that “it will be the ultimate consummation of our love.”
The audience reaction and feedback is what energizes me to continue the development and performance. From the first reading and for each reading and now performance, someone – and usually many -- in the audience are in some way changed or transformed by the show. A few of the audience reactions that I have received:
“I never understood why my wife reacted to my cancer the way she did, now I know.” “It changed my life.” “I am still living in the glow of last evening…and your singing the Hebrew Prayer totally blew me away. It was brilliant…” “I want to tell you again how much your play moved me. Parts of it have kept coming into my mind when I least expect it. It was so powerful, sweet and tender, and at the same time gut-wrenching and full of pain and anguish…”
Through performance and engagement with audiences I have come to understand that there is a hunger for this topic. The experience of writing and performing this play has also transformed me. I have begun to write poetry based on the play. I invite you to look at the poetry at www.theactualdance.com
Intruducing Chuk Obasi
Chuk Obasi began taking on the role of Sam in The Actual Dance in 2016, drawn by the opportunity to re-imagine the telling of Mr. Simon’s story after having previously viewed his performance several times prior.
Obasi is an actor/director, dancer/choreographer, and writer/poet with over twelve years of professional experience nationally and internationally. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from SUNY Geneseo, where he studied communication with a double minor in musical theatre and dance.
Obasi is currently a company member with The Private Theatre, an actor with TEA Creative, a Movement Director at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, an Adjunct Professor of Musical Theatre at Drew University, and Choreographer for STAR Theatre (Serving Teens through Arts and Research) at the Director’s Company. He has recently worked with Intersections International (Artist in Residence), the National Dance Institute (Teaching Artist), and Village Playback Theatre (Performer). Recent works include Let Me Fluff Your Pillow (May 2019, Director); Rocco, Chelsea, Adriana, Sean, Claudia, Gianna, Alex at HERE Arts (2019, starring as Rocco); Twisted Operettas at The Public Theater (2019, Co-Lyricist); The Neighbors at the Italian Theatre Festival (2018, Director); The Actual Dance at the United Solo Festival (2018, performer); Music concert A Drink with Death (2018, Lyricist) at Feinstein’s/54 Below; Critically acclaimed play Uniform Justice (Playwright/ Director), which he produced at the 2015 NY International Fringe Festival; Award-winning Feature films “The Depths (2017)” and “79 Parts (2016)” (Actor); A 2018 artist residency with The Marble House Project in Vermont (Actor); A 2016 artist residency at the Actor’s Studio (Actor). He has also been recently seen performing original spoken word poetry for the Diamond Empowerment Fund 2016 and 2017 Galas in Las Vegas and at The Declaration Initiative 2016 Conference in Washington, DC. He will serve as Artist-in-Residence for a June 2019 residency at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.
Obasi is a recent recipient of the 2019 Zelda Fichandler Award - a full scholarship to study with the Michael Chekhov Association this Summer in New London, CT. A New York native, born in Queens and raised in the Bronx, Obasi currently resides in Manhattan with his wife and two sons. He dedicates his performances of The Actual Dance to the memory of his friend Bobby Kashif Cox, lost to cancer but ever present in spirit.
Date: Sunday - June 23, 2019 @ Time: 5:00PM
Date: Monday - June 24, 2019 @ Time: 7:00PM
Location: Anacostia Playhouse - 2020 Shannon Place SE Washington, DC