Chicago-based playwright and director Shywanee L. Manson is poised to deliver her newest project, a stage production, “When You Cry, I Cry” next month at the Harold Washington Cultural Center.
Known for attracting talent, this play will feature Gary “Lil G” Jenkins from the R&B Group, SILK, Edgar “Gemini” Porter from the R&B Group, Men at Large, and Comedian Brian “Da Wildcat” Smith.
Long-time Bean Soup Times readers first learned about Manson in 2005 when she debuted her first play, Apology From One Sista’ To Another. The production began as a poem and eventually she also transformed the story into a book—her first novel, entitled Apology From One Sista’ To Another.
Since then, she has continued to produce sold out live stage productions. Below she talks with BeanSoupTimes.com about her next project and life as a creative artist.
You are a poet, author, screenwriter, playwright, producer and ghost writer. How do you manage to be so productive?
I am blessed to be able to do these things. It’s my level of creativity, I believe. I’m driven to create and this is my avenue in doing that – writing. I get to tell my stories. I get to see my stories on stage! I get to read my stories in book form, and I feel a sense of satisfaction from creating, producing and bringing entertainment to others. I love saying “I did it”! And once I’ve completed one goal, I challenge myself to keep going forward to doing bigger and better things.
Did you see yourself doing all these incredible things from the beginning of your career?
No. It’s weird though. When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be an actress and singer, but God didn’t give me the acting nor singing skills on that level; however, somehow I knew that there was a connection between that dream and what I do now. I’m not the one on the stage or in front of the camera, but I am the creative force and the direction behind these great productions. I actually had no idea that one poem could lead to a book, that would lead to a play, that would lead to more books and plays. I am blessed and pray to continue doing great things.
Apology From One Sista’ To Another, which started off as a poem in 2003 and became a stage play was well received. Did you expect it to go so well?
No, actually. When I started writing poetry, people would tell me that they loved my poems, but by me not having a giant ego, I always thought that they were just being nice. Then more and more people started saying the same thing: “You should write a book because that poem would make a great story”. I wrote the book and the praises continued with “your book would make a great movie or play!” And that is how it escalated. I debuted the play and it was VERY well received, which in turn caused me to put on several encore performances.
Tell us how the idea of forgiveness and reconciliation played into Apology.
Well, without giving away any details of the book, abuse, whether it be physical, verbal, mental or financial is a major issue in several of the relationships that I’ve witnessed and the characters in my novel have experienced all of the above. So, the bottom line is: in order to forgive your abuser, you must first decide to forgive yourself.
What motivates you to keep writing?
Satisfaction from watching others enjoy my live stage plays or reading my novel is what motivates me to keep going. Also, I feel like it’s my God-given purpose to utilize my writing skills to deliver messages that may help others in their daily lives.
Tell us about your latest project? What do you hope people walk away with?
My latest project is my new stage play, WHEN YOU CRY, I CRY, a tribute to old school R&B. This play deals with multiple issues such as miscarriage, drug abuse, self-esteem, to name a few. I hope that people will walk away from this stage play with a willingness to have compassion for others who may have been through these things. Also, I want them to walk away with a sense of nostalgia from the great music that is to be performed and a stomachache from laughing very hard at the comedy they are about to witness!
What do you envision for Shy Fox Productions for the future?
Shyfox Productions has now partnered with Omar Boone and Kent O’Quinn to form the new production company, Coming To The Stage Live Productions. Coming To The Stage Live Productions will continue to bring quality plays, books, films, etc. all across the country. We will continue to focus on common issues in the community and present them in a way that empowers our viewers rather than oppress them.
Visit her website at www.shyfoxproductions.com
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