‘…Or Does It Explode?’ drawn from real stories, appears at Balch Street Theatre Feb. 3
— While originally created in 2014, the message behind “…Or Does It Explode?” is still as relevant today, with explorations of the urban black male experience, their place in the community, and how self perception oftentimes conflicts with media portrayals and stereotypes.
An original play of Ma’Sue Productions, “. . .Or Does It Explode?” will take the stage again at the Balch Street Theatre, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. Performance dates are Feb. 3-5, 10, 11 and 17-19.
The show provides poetic, thought-provoking and frequently confrontational language in its journey though the psychic and social conditions and contradictions of the contemporary black urban male experience.
Directed by John Dayo Aliya, “…Or Does It Explode?” includes dramatic vignettes using music, poetry and traditional theatrical forms. The performance is a reflection of stories gathered from men ages 16 to 35 in Akron, which were then turned into a play by co-writers Aliya and John Smith.
Aliya says the play aims to answer one key question: “Who are these people (black men) really? There’s no salient answer,” he adds. “There’s many different black men. There’s many different experiences. And that’s kind of what this show attempts to explain.”
“. . .Or Does It Explode?” tackles a tense social, racial and political climate black young men have faced in our communities. The event is produced by Ma’Sue Productions and sponsored by the Center for Applied Theatre and Active Culture, The W.O.M.B and Stop the Violence Movement.
The concept was sparked from a collaboration on a project highlighting diversity with Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts. Aliya, and India Burton (who co-produced the show’s first iteration), then set out to produce a piece that was not only relevant, but also engaging to a modern audience.
“I also wanted to make a show that was black theatre,” says Aliya, “that was utilizing black actors, that was more poetic, that was interesting and maybe a little avant-garde. I’ve been wanting to do that for awhile, so I just kind of combined the two ideas, and that birthed the show.”
He adds: “I want people to go inside the theater and realize it’s for them and see their stories.”
The Balch Street Theatre is located at 220 S. Balch St. Tickets may be purchased for $12 pre-sale (ordoesitexplode2.brownpapertickets.com) and $15 at the door. Pre-sale ends Feb. 17.