Dream Deferred

The set of Dream Deferred

The set of Dream Deferred; Photo Credit: David Gallardo

The Jacob A. Weiser Playwright Award winning and AUDELCO 2012 Dramatic Production of the Year nominated play Dream Deferred puts a spotlight on racial tensions and social action, as African-American residents of an apartment building in Harlem struggle against the looming commercial dominance of a newly built condominium, just across the street.

Written and directed by Marcus Dargan, Dream Deferred premiered in April 2012 at the 133rd Street Arts Center in Harlem, New York as part of NuAFrikan Theatre NuWorks. The ensemble cast included Bisa Dawes, Shannon Harris, Donald Paul, Eddie K. Robinson, and Curtis Williams, and featured Richard Mays and Johnnie Mae, an OOBR Award winning actress and two-time recipient of the AUDELCO Award.

Click here to view production photos of Dream Deferred.


“Dream Deferred is an amazing play…”

“This play simply but vividly explains how the essence and culture of the black community in Harlem struggle with economic challenges and commercial dominance of newly built condominiums.”
NuAFrikan Performance in Harlem, Harlem World Magazine (May 11, 2012)
Click here to read the entire review.

“What Dargan’s play exposes is the sense of overwhelming fear and powerlessness felt by many of Harlem’s denizens as they saw the day to day changes to their neighborhood; changes they had no say in bringing about.”

“Each of the actors played two different characters and delivered solid, thoroughly engaging performances with award winner Johnnie Mae being the most powerful of all.”
‘Dream Deferred’ Ends Run with Resounding Success, New York Beacon (May 10, 2012)
Click here to read the entire review.

“By far the strongest performance in Dreamed Deferred comes from Johnnie Mae, a veteran of the stage and television, who brings real gravitas to Mrs. Thompson and Mother Ester Jackson…

…A truly versatile performance comes from another fine actor in the show, Bisa Dawes. She inhabits each of her characters (the aforementioned Shay-Shay; Caribbean bookstore owner, Fatima; and the clearly deranged but insightful Deva, who has the best single monologue in the play.)”
“Dream Deferred:” A Review of a New Play About Gentrification, Dominion of New York (April 23, 2012)
Click here to read the entire review.

Original Cast

Johnnie Mae (featured) burns with the fervent fire of the Holy Ghost as Mother Esther Jackson, and gives us the “tea” on her neighbors as the gossipy Mrs. Thompson. Johnnie Mae is a two-time AUDELCO Award winner and shared the OOBR Award for best ensemble cast for Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery, and was last seen on stage as the Church Mother in The Widow and Miss Mamie.

Richard Mays (featured) schools the audience as Doc Gabriel, the narrator of Dream Deferred and self-proclaimed historian, educator, and sometimes-jazz musician, and tickles us as Johnny, the tall-tale-telling superintendent. In addition to his work in commercial and film, Mays has performed as a featured singer and actor in musicals at the Theater for the New City, including It’s the Economy, Stupid! and The Wizard of Oz.

Bisa Dawes (ensemble) welcomes whites to Harlem in her own unique way as the aggressive and loudmouthed Shay-Shay. Dawes also exposes the economic plight of maintaining a small business in Harlem as the Caribbean bookstore owner Fatima, and starts a race riot as Deva the revolutionary priestess. Dawes notable stage productions include Westside Story, ‘Twas with a Twist, and Tales from the Body Bag.

Shannon Harris (ensemble) questions racial identity and assimilation as the blond wig- wearing Lovey Jones, and will move you to tears as Angela Walker, the mother who loses her husband and son in the violence of a neighborhood riot. Harris has performed with Inwood Shakespeare Festival and Adirondack Shakespeare Company and was last seen in the poignant short play Pedestrian Casualty: Bronx USA in Looking Glass Theater’s Winter Director/Writer Forum 2011.

Donald Paul (ensemble) flirts with the audience as Anthony, the same gender loving Harlem artist, and Black, a street corner thug with a mystical third eye. Paul studied Theatre at the University of Maryland and The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Eddie K. Robinson (ensemble) imparts wisdom that only a “crack head, dope fiend, liar and a thief” can share as Peanut, a skittish drug addict, and demonstrates his range as an actor in his somber portrayal of David Walker, a young victim of police brutality. Robinson is a graduate of Michigan State University and The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts and was last seen in the role of Shock G in The Tragedy of Tupac Amaru Shakur.

Curtis Williams (ensemble) reminisces on the good old days of Harlem as Fresh Chris, and explores themes of masculinity and fatherhood amongst black men as Michael Walker. Williams originated the lead role of Issa Mohammed in NuAFrikan Theatre’s Antichrist Lament, and was last seen in the role of Elsworth in the H.A.D.L.E.Y Players AUDELCO Award nominated production of Glady’s Delima.

Videography and photography for Dream Deferred courtesy of David Gallardo of August Third Media and David Gallardo Productions.
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Additional photography by Tanya Ndip. tanyahelps.wordpress.com
Additional videography by Miriam Tabb.