Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Planet Connections Interview - Tramaine Montell Ford of "TheTramaineExperience"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Tramaine Montell Ford
Play: TheTramaineExperience: AnUrbanDramedy
Relationship to production: Actor/Co-playwright
Website: http://www.tramainemontellford.com/

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I grew up in a housing projects in inner-city Chicago called Cabrini Green where there were not many theatre opportunities or outlets. So... I began making my own scripts and home movies with a camcorder as a kid. Through a program for underprivileged youth funded largely by Oprah Winfrey, called Cabrini Connections, I wrote and created a short film that won at The Children's Alt. Film Festival. It was then on cable access and I was interviewed on the news. Someone from FreeStreet Theatre saw this on television and contacted me to join their youth training ensemble at age 13.

Who are your biggest influences?

I am largely influenced by the people of Cabrini Green, my mom, my son, and Oprah.

What is your show about?

TheTramaineExperience is a new age one-man show about people from Cabrini Green Housing Projects, their lives, struggles, strengths, and dreams. Playing on the stereotypes that many of us know of inner-city dwellers, the show comedically utilizes these stereotypes for a farcical spin then surprisingly and ultimately pierces through them to reveal the relatable depth of these human beings.

What inspired you to write it?

Receiving feedback, from people of the neighborhood that I grew up in, that I had, was, or could continue to inspire them from some of the accomplishments they watched me fight for inspired me to write this show in the hopes of inspiring more people to go after their worthy life goals despite their obstacles. I was also inspired by the idea to portray these people/characters that are usually stereotyped and judged in a deeper and more intimate light with the hopes of encouraging people toward more understanding, empathy, connectedness, and expression of love toward all human beings.

Why was it important to you to be part of an eco-friendly theatre festival?

In conjunction with the 'connectedness of all human beings' theme of my show, our connectedness to our environment and earth is equally important. An eco-friendly festival is in line with my production's ultimate mission.

Planet Connections donates a portion of the box office for each show to a charity. What charity has your production chosen and why?

My production has chosen to benefit United Way of NYC. This is because, again in conjunction with the production's theme, and mission as I talked about earlier, United Way of NYC has a mission to connect people, resources and ideas to accelerate systemic changes that improve education, income and health in New York… particularly in communities and neighborhoods of great need, like the one portrayed in the show.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

After Planet Connections, the show will be making it's official Off-Broadway run premiere with 12 performances at The American Theatre of Actors in September in association with The Araca Project, fostered by Broadway producers The Araca Group and my Alma mater, Syracuse University.

If you could get any person, living or dead, to see this show who would you choose and why?

If I could get any person to see this show, it would be Oprah Winfrey. That's because of her life mission of connecting and helping people and it's direct tie to the inner-cities of Chicago and the way that she has personally assisted me in accomplishing my goals, through funding and scholarships, that have directly led to the creation of the production.

Tuesday, June 14 at 6:00PM
Thursday, June 16 at 9:00PM
Sunday, June 19 at 9:00PM

The Gene Frankel Theatre
24 Bond Street

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