About the Director
Von H. Washington has written, directed, performed in and/or supervised more than 300 theatrical productions. He is a member of three professional Acting Unions and has taught and directed theatrical productions and programs for the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University (WMU), The University of Missouri, and Wayne State University, as well as Lake Michigan, and Kalamazoo College. At WMU, he directed the Multicultural Theatre Program from 1989 to 2011. He has also worked as a professional actor, playwright, teacher, director, and theatrical consultant at various theatres across the USA. Von has written more than 20 plays. Among them are Remnants from Senegal, Conspiracy, and The Black American Dream, which has been produced at numerous theatres across the country. The Operation was produced at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Seven Stops to Freedom, a play about the Underground Railroad, has been staged more than 500 times, including Beijing University in 2007. It was the winner of the Juneteenth New Works competition at the University of Louisville, in 2000. The National Black Theatre Touring Circuit of New York offered Von’s production of Rosa Parks in its national tour. Currently, Von is President and Artistic Director of Washington Productions, Inc., a theatrical and educational company cofounded by Von and his wife Fran. Depicting life from an African American perspective, they have written more than twenty-five original scripts and appeared in more than 600 performances for more than 20,000 students and adults across the USA. Von is also a decorated veteran of the US Air Force. For more information visit his website www.washprod.com.
Meet the Cast
Buddy Hannah (William Henry Brown) is the retired
host of Talk It Up Live a social
commentary radio program that aired
on 1560 AM and 95.5 FM the Touch in
Kalamazoo. But he is no stranger to the
theater. As an actor he has appeared in
stage productions with the former
Black Civic Theater, the former Whole
Arts Theater, and with Washington Productions. His
most recent stage appearance was in 2014 as Winning
Boy in the play, The Piano Lesson for the Black Arts
&Cultural Center. He has also directed several
productions for the Black Arts & Cultural Center,
among them are Death of a Salesman and Of Mice and
Men. Buddy has also written several plays, his most
recent one being Caught Up in the Circle of Life which
had a successful tour throughout the south in 2014. He
also heads a successful Drama Ministry at his church,
Allen Chapel A.M.E.
Von Washington Jr. (James Hewlett) received his bachelor’s degree from Western State College of Colorado and his masters of Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University. For ten years, Von has worked in the Kalamazoo Public School
system. He served as principal at Phoenix High School and Kalamazoo Central High School. He is currently the executive director of community relations for The Kalamazoo Promise. Von Jr. has performed in Western Michigan University productions, at Farmers Alley, and
has taken the stage in a number of productions in the Kalamazoo area.
Bianca Washington (Ann Johnson) received her BA in Theater Performance and Minor in
Communications at Western Michigan University, and her MFA in Acting and Theater Education at The Pennsylvania State University where she taught and performed locally and internationally. Bianca Washington currently works for Education for the Arts in Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University teaching theater arts. She is very excited to be a part of this production and back under the direction of her Uncle Dr. Von Washington. Bianca is also excited to be working with the Black Arts and Cultural Center once again and wants to thank all of her family, students, and friends for supporting the BACC.
Dwandra Nickole Lampkin (Sarah) is an Associate Professor of Theatre and the Director of Multicultural Theatre at Western Michigan University. Dwandra earned her MFA in acting
from The National Theatre Conservatory. She has performed regionally at the Tony Award winning Denver Center Theatre; The Huntington Theatre in Boston; the National Black Theatre in New York City; the Indiana Repertory Theater, the Phoenix Theatre, the Human Race Theatre in Dayton and the Farmer’s Alley Theatre in Kalamazoo, MI. Some of her theatre credits include Mrs. Muller in Doubt, Aunt Ester in Gem of the Ocean, Matron Mama Morton in Chicago, Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird, Elizabeth in In the Next Room or (The Vibrator Play) and Lena/Francine in Clybourne Park. Her television credits include Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Third Watch, and the critically acclaimed series Wonderland. She has recently written and performed her solo show entitled “The Conviction of Lady Lorraine”; which chronicles Dwandra’s personal journey to find the secret behind a
homeless woman’s twenty-two year protest. For more information visit her website at www.dwandra.com. Dwandra is a proud member of the Actors Equity Association.
Marissa Harrington (Sarah) is originally from Los Angeles, California and is a local actor/director. She graduated from Western Michigan University’s Theatre program with a BFA in Theatre Performance in 2013. Since graduation, Marissa has directed the play Stick Fly written by Lydia Diamond and The Piano Lesson by August Wilson through the Kalamazoo Black Arts and Cultural Center, Grease at Hackett Catholic Prep High School, and two 10 minute plays for the Theatre Kalamazoo New Play Festival. She also recently choreographed for Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat at Hackett Catholic Prep High School and just finished a successful run of Tony and Tina’s Wedding through Western Michigan University Theatre. Marissa is new to the Board of Directors for the Black Arts and Cultural Center, and also serves on the Art League Board for the Kalamazoo Institute for the Arts. She resides in Kalamazoo with her husband Harold, beautiful children Lyla and Hunter, and dog Enzo.
Michael Ray Helms (Stephen Price) is actor, singer and character voice artist well-known to
Kalamazoo and area audiences, having appeared at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Farmers Alley Theatre, Barn Theatre in Augusta, Kalamazoo College and several other area theaters over the past 35 years. Many audiences will remember his 67 performances – to date – as Albert Soady in Jeff Daniels’ “Escanaba in Da Moonlight” at the Civic, The August Barn and Farmers Alley. Other favorites are as Arthur Przybyszewski in “Superior Donuts” at Farmers Alley, and Neil Simons’ “Fools” in which the Kalamazoo Civic took second place at national competition and then took to an International Festival in England. Michael has also performed many characters in over 50 radio plays with All Ears Radio Theatre heard on WMUK for the past 14 years. Finally, Michael is a Board Member of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. He dedicates this performance – as always – to his wife Susan. “With love, always.”
Tim Smith (The Constable-man) has performed in major and supporting roles in over 150 productions at the community, university, and professional level. His most recent role was as Barney, in The New Vic’s production of Neil Simon’s, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers. Other notable roles in Tim’s career are Charlie Brown in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, the Stage Manager in Our Town, Bernard in Death of a Salesman, and Weston in Curse of the Starving Class. Tim has worked with Dr. Washington on several projects over the years, with the most recent being Justice for Maurice Henry Carter. Tim is currently in his 25th year of teaching with the Battle Creek Public Schools. Tim has an M.A. in Speech and Drama from Kansas State University.
Hal Hobson (The Constable-man) has a BFA from WMU in Musical Theatre Performance, and works as a music teacher and choir director. He has performed with the Whole Art, the New Vic, Tibbits Opera House, Cherry County Playhouse, Chicago Light Opera Works, and the Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Marshall Civic Players. Favorite roles include Sterling and Jeffrey in Jeffrey, Buffalo Bill in Annie Get Your Gun, Father in The Yellow Boat, Greg in The Sum of Us, and Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady.