It all begins with a prayer. A circle is formed, hands clench on to their neighbors, heads bow, eyes close and the voice of Richard Gallion brings together a family bond built on stage but proceeds even when the lights dim and the stage is empty.
The feeling is real.
The cast of “Living Without Love” starring Richard Gallion, Terrell Carter and Keeland Ellis, is preparing for the emotional ride they are about to endure as they rehearse at the Spoken Word Café for Saturday’s theatrical production, to be held at the Harold Washington Cultural Center.
The actors release with an “Amen” and head to their positions to begin Act one -Scene one.
How often do you allow your past to interrupt your future? Many of us don’t even realize that we tend to use our past as a crutch holding down a possibly fruitful path. Is there a solution? Of course. Forgiveness and letting go.
It’s not easy.
I get it. But, in the interim, we’re only blocking blessings and self-progression.
“I recently reconciled with my father after 22 years,” says Richard Gallion. “It’s like I was holding on to that hatred for so long and I clearly heard GOD saying, ‘Forgive him and let it go.’ I was just being disobedient, but, when I finally did it, it was like ‘dang… all this time… and that’s when my blessings really started coming.”
That reconciliation inspired Gallion, 27, a nationally successful actor and model to pick up a writing project he started while on the Fashion Fair tour with Ebony/Jet Magazine.
The ending product is his first stage production written and directed by him.
Living Without Love is a universal story dealing with betrayal, redemption, spirituality and the realities of lives being shattered by the choices of one. These choices lead to a cycle of fatherless men and a search to understand love.
Despite internal chest-pounding anger that at times, bursts into physical altercations, the family is able to find a common ground and rebuild.
But it doesn’t happen without some intense scenes, revelations and dialogue.
Fatherhood and the absence of, plays a major role in Gallion’s production. You’re able to see the vicious cycles that life can drag you through when a man grows up without a father – or even witnesses the less than commendable behaviors of a man.
“The storyline came from life. Some of the things in the story are things that are close to my life,” shares Richard. “Some people were basically doing what I was doing – not forgiving one another. The message I wanted to get across was in order to move on in life and in order to be forgiven by God, you have to forgive others.”
TJ, portrayed by Gallion, is the central character. His appearance shows a man of confidence with an occupation that could make him a statistic and anger so deep that it scars his relationship with God – also burdening his trust factor.
Re-enactments that aren’t too far off from Gallion’s reality. “I was like the T.J. in the story. I stopped believing in God for a little bit and questioning if He really exists. And He has a way of showing himself.”
His girlfriend, Stacy (Shanika Tyler), is a spiritual being with a troubled past. There are skeletons in her closet she needs to eventually air out. In the midst, she sees the need for T.J. to reconcile with his father and reconnect with his spirituality.
Uncle T (Alonzo Ruffin),a 60-year old playa always scheming and hitting his family with comical realizations while making them join him on trip after trip to the neighborhood 7-eleven, is hysterical. You’ll catch truths through his comedic delivery.
Jeremy (Tyrone Harper) is T.J.’s best friend. Drama stirs in his household leaving unpredictable results.
Situations stir mixing with drugs, resentment and life without fully loving self. The one to hold it all together – as much as possible- is “Granny” played by Tamera Peterson.
And maybe that’s why Living Without Love feels genuinely real. From the aforementioned characters to the supporting cast members, there’s a rawness with each character that identifies with someone we may know or know of and it elevates beyond just the stage production.
“It has a great message. It’s not one of those cheesy plays that you’re used to seeing with all the baby-momma drama. It’s real legit. It’s real situations that men and women go through,” comments Moses Hall, music director of Harmonious Dynasty who will produce the melodic tone of the production.
“I think it’s really going to hit home. I’ve seen rehearsals where people are like breaking down in tears.”
Richard adds, “I didn’t want to make it cliche’ or to the point where people are like, ‘Man, that doesn’t happen.’ I want people to actually relate to it. I wanted the stories to add up to: If that really happened, would I really forgive them? And yeah, you would.”
Gallion has concocted a deep story with individuals that understand the importance of each line and every action. Honestly, there was really no doubt that his work would shine.
After all, his talent as been polished by one of the greats, John Ruffin.
For more on Richard Gallion, visit www.richardgallion.com.