Opening May 31st at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Rebirth is the creation of writer, director and producer Rob Jackson and stars veteran actress Lynn Whitfield and Thomas Miles best known as "Nephew Tommy" of the nationally syndicated Steve Harvey Morning Show. The onstage talent is enriched by the dynamic artistry of talented composer Keith A. Hale and choreographer Juel D. Lane who bring the emotional punch of song and dance to this compelling musical.
Set in the year 2156, Jackson's theatrical production fast forwards us into a future where freedom and the power to choose for oneself have been obliterated by cataclysmic world events. It is a metaphorical journey exploring our current reality through the lens of a future we may very well be creating.
It triangulates around humanity's age-old questions of: "What is true? How do I know it is true? and "Who is the keeper of the truth?"
The play's content is at once riveting and entertaining and is especially relevant in the face of the mega-powerful external forces of religion, politics and social media's extraordinary ability to influence and shape our collective belief systems -- often at the expense of free and independent thinking. In essence, it poses the question: "What if you did not have the option to choose what you believe in?"
The following is an interview with cast members Lynn Whitfield and "Nephew Tommy" Miles and writer and director Rob Jackson:
Rob, what compelled you to bring sci-fi to the stage?
RJ: There was a time when people would look to the church for answers to life's deepest problems. Now the advent of social media is eclipsing the power of religion and politics to inform our decisions and dictate our lives.
I wanted to hold a mirror up to reflect some of the realities of modern day life -- to explore why we think the things we think and believe the things we believe -- and to illustrate where humanity could be headed if it stays on its current course.
Sci-fi gave me the license to go wherever I wanted to go without the constraints of rules and preconceived ideas.
Lynn, what drew you to this project?
LW: It is a very smart script and Rob is so clear in his vision. I relish working with people with his level of clarity. It's more of a futuristic play than sci-fi showing how if we continue on this path we can become disconnected and lost.
The fact that it's in the future allows people the emotional distance to take a look at what happens when you are presented with false prophets and the dynamics of an individual having absolute power.
I love playing an iconic, unforgettable, female character, in a position of power that people will remember. Mia, who is the larger than life figure I play, is seemingly all powerful yet, her flaw is her need to control everything around her out of fear.
So I get to play in a world of fantasy while exploring humanity at the iconic level of Shakespeare and the Greek tragedies.
Nephew Tommy, I had no idea you were a talented thespian since you are best known as a radio personality and for your stand-up comedy -- what sparked your interest in this project?
NT: I have been doing theater since Junior High School and majored in theater at Texas A & M University.
I did lots of classical theater when I studied with the Royal Shakespeare Company of London however, my big break came in comedy when Luther Vandross heard a tape of mine and invited me to open for his shows, which I went on to do for three years.
My passion for theater, film and acting has always remained strong during my rise in radio and comedy and I now get to step back into what I have always loved... and at the same time I am stepping out to show a side of me that many people don't know.
Most of all I want to be humble and sit back and learn more about this craft from a professional like Lynn Whitfield -- believe me I will probably steal a thing or two from her [Laughs] -- I welcome the challenge to learn and grow and to show myself in another light.
I love the theme of the play because it boils down to "freedom of choice," which ties into many socially relevant conversations going on today.
Rebirth runs from May 30st to June 2nd 2013 at the Fox Theater, located at 660 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308 . The official opening night is May 31st. For more information, visit www.rebirthuniverse.com.