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Black Spectrum Theatre takes a look back with new play

By Valerie Victor

The Black Spectrum Theatre in Queens, whose mission is to create theater and film productions about the African-American community, has announced the opening of a new play by its founder Carl Clay.

“Timeless, the Mystery of the Dark Water” begins Friday and is a little different from some of the other pieces performed at the theater.

Clay said he was inspired to write the show because of an experience he had with people who do past life regression — which involves using hypnosis to recover memories from a person’s past lives.

“This play raises a lot of questions and people can walk away reflecting on their lives and experiences that need more investigation,” Clay said. “I think it’s a different and interesting angle. It will be nurturing, funny, informative and inspiring.”

According to Clay, since its founding in 1970, the theater has produced a number of pieces focusing on topics like obesity, the healing zone, history, life and many other topics that spark public debate.

“We use a wide range of wavelengths to communicate with the community, and that’s the Spectrum,” Clay said.

The theater is also well known for highlighting emerging African-American directors, playwrights, performers and designers.

“This theater gives us the opportunity to work our craft. I’m always grateful to hit the boards here, and I’m glad to see that it’s still around because a lot of theaters like this haven’t lasted,” actress Lisa Roxanne Walters said.

Production team members for the current production include director Bette Howard, head of music Onaje Allan Gumbs and the technical director, sound and visual producer Derek Galloway.

“This is our bread and butter, this is what created everything, it’s doing plays,” Galloway said. “We have concerts in here and we do a lot of different things related to entertainment, but this is what really brought us this far, and that’s theater.”

Many of the cast members and production staff are excited about this show because Clay is also the playwright.

“To me it’s atypical of the more social implication type of other plays I’ve done at Black Spectrum and other productions that are done here,” Walters said. “They’re important and great, but sometimes it’s wonderful to just hear a story that might make you think about something. Community theaters need to bring that element into the community as well. Carl Clay is still pumping it out and I think that is most rewarding, to be able to be a part of that.”

Clay said he is looking forward to a full house with an audience that is really into the story.

“Even though I am the founder of Black Spectrum, I am still an artist at heart, and I don’t get to do this often,” Clay said. “I love what I do, writing the play, and producing. It’s like my fuel, it’s my battery. When I see people enjoy the show, that is my reward.”

If you Go

“Timeless, the Mystery of the Dark Water”

When: Oct. 23 through Nov. 22

Where: Black Spectrum Theatre, 177 Baisley Blvd., Jamaica

Cost: $25

Contact: (718) 723-1800

Website: www.blackspectrum.com

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