By Karen Stokes
Di’Monte Henning believes there is a great deal of talent right here in Milwaukee. This belief led him to create a performing arts organization, Lights! Camera! Soul!
“Our mission is to help cultivate Milwaukee’s next generation of performing arts,” Henning said. “Theater, music, dance and visual arts…our goal is to bring more performing arts to Milwaukee.”
Henning is the director of the play EMERGENCY. This play is by award winning playwright Daniel Beaty. The play premieres Friday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Body & Soul Healing Arts Center, 3617 N 48th St.
The play details the story of a slave ship that rises in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York. The ship sends the community into a whirlwind of emotions and exploration through poetry and storytelling of each character’s response to the ship. The story questions what it means to be human.
“Emergency is part of a two-package play. The other part is called ‘Through the Night.’ What is brought out is the healing truth and how to embrace our past, be present and how to look forward to the future,” explained Henning.
“It deals with issues of drugs, sexuality, mental illness and AIDS. I feel it’s a play that can provide healing to people.”
Henning explains that EMERGENCY offers an artistic point of view on those issues. He feels that now is the perfect time for the play.
The perfect timing of the play and the perfect time for Lights! Camera! Soul! that began as a student organization in 2013 and last June became a non-profit organization.
Henning is a product of Milwaukee Public Schools. He attended Milwaukee School of the Arts, and he has a degree from UW Milwaukee.
“One thing I learned in high school is just to reach my full potential,” Henning said. “If it lands me somewhere outside of Milwaukee, so be it; that’s where I’ll go, and if it doesn’t, there’s so much talent here in Milwaukee.”
EMERGENCY’s talented cast consists of: Derrion Brown, Pansy K. Williams, Amber Baylor, Mario Andre, Chantae Miller, Mose Black and Kevin Norton.
That cast had high regards for their director, the production and each other.
“Di’Monte is 23-years old, and he’s directing this show, this company and he has such a progressive mind. To be part of this show and to get to see how his mind works and everyone else’s in the cast has been a privilege,” said Brown, a UWM graduate who plays Freddie and Ashes in the production.
“I’m the oldest person at 53 years old here. Everyone is fantabulously talented, and we have grown to be an ensemble,” said Andre, originally from Chicago, who plays Reginald and Chief Kofi.
“I feel like I’m coming out of my shell,” said Baylor, a Messmer high school student and director of Messmers Gospel choir.
“I enjoy working with the cast of EMERGENCY,” said Pansy Williams, who plays the roles of Bessie and Black Female Scholar. “Our director is awesome; he has taught us a lot! I hope we have a really big turnout next weekend for EMERGENCY!”
“The whole idea behind Lights! Camera! Soul! is that it’s a different perspective of live entertainment and live art,” Henning said.
EMERGENCY opens May 13 at 7:30 pm, with shows on May 14 at 7:30 pm and a Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m. at the Body & Soul Healing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or online at EMERGENCY.brownpapertickets.com