State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg
On October 13, DENM INC, Miayo Entertainment and GoKash Productions will present two showings of the provocative and suspenseful play VI Degrees at the State Museum of Pennsylvania. VI Degrees was the first production from Pennsylvanian playwright Kash Goins. “VI Degrees examines a social/sexual network of people,” explained Goins. “A lot of people can relate right now to social networking, but what they don’t understand is the way they’re related to other people, especially in condensed neighborhoods, through a shared sexual pool.” VI Degrees deals bluntly with the toll sexual irresponsibility can take on a community, including sobering statistics on HIV infection rates and poignant situations detailing the emotional stress of infidelity. “This particular group, I feel it’s less about what they indulge in, but a spirit of freedom that’s almost celebrated in the first act,” said Goins. “If it looks good, if it feels good, if it’s funny, we just want to do it. We juxtapose that in Act II with some of the consequences. Ultimately the most tragic is a little boy who didn’t participate in any of this who has been meted out a death sentence from everyone else’s activities. The phenomenon of VI Degrees is that everybody is within six degrees of separation of everybody else; nobody’s that far away from anyone else in this world.”
VI Degrees has won numerous awards, including the 2009 NYC Downtown Urban Theatre Festival Best Play Winner, and the play has been performed numerous times in Philadelphia, New York and Washington DC. The Harrisburg production will be directed by Goins and will be performed by an entirely local cast, including Louis Riley III, Joy Hymon, Aaron Boman, Chantel Motes, Nirvana Franklin, Cassandra Porter, Tonya Hymon, Jasmine Forney and Jason Stewart.
The VI Degrees cast features many of the city’s top dramatic performers, who want local audiences to take notice of Harrisburg’s burgeoning theater scene. “I’d like to see Harrisburg support Harrisburg,” explained Cassandra Porter, who delivers one of the play’s most critical monologues. “People go to Philly, Baltimore, everywhere to see theater and pay top-dollar; it’s almost as if people don’t believe it’s a good show until they hear about it afterwards when it’s too late. I just want them to have faith in this city and know that there are some talented people here.”
“I like being involved in bringing modern theater here; plays set today,” explained actor Louis Riley III, whose novel Trapped Between Two Worlds will be produced as a film later this year. “It’s very important that each facet of life is being shown through theater.” VI Degrees is significant for Harrisburg as contemporary African-American theater, both genres which are experiencing resurgence in Central PA. “I started acting in 2008, and within the last three years I have seen more African-American productions being produced each year,” said actor Aaron Bomar. “Open Stage has put on an August Wilson play each year, Kash has brought his plays here and Harrisburg filmmakers also are having a mini-explosion.” Local directors including Hakim Zaire, Danny Fordham, Nathan Gadsden and Warren Ritter have all produced recent films in the Harrisburg area, and Goins is hoping to soon adapt VI Degrees into a feature-length film.
VI Degrees will be performed at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, which was chosen for its intimacy and acoustics. “I’m not comfortable with this show as something that you sit back and watch over there,” said Goins. “I want you to lean in and live it with us.” Tickets for VI Degrees are $15 for the 3 PM matinee and $20 for the 8 PM evening show, and are currently available online through the VI Degrees’ EventBrite page, or in person at Midtown Soul at 908 N. 3rd St. in Harrisburg. For more information on the play, tickets and showtimes, visit DENM INC’s Facebook Page or GoKashProductions.com