Since far too often we only publicly say nice things about people when they are dead I’ve decided to randomly pick a Facebook friend every day and say something nice about them.
June 18, 2019
Today’s person: C. Kelly Wright!
The first time I worked with C. Kelly was a reading in which I played a man extorting sex and some twisted semblance of a home life from her in exchange for helping her escape the State cutting off her sons’ legs in their plan to tame Black men.
I’d seen C. Kelly In shows for years, and was always impressed with her intense acting, but it wasn’t until the second time I worked with her - in “Jazz” at MTC - that I began to understand the full force of that intensity.
What C. Kelly brings is a sort of all-powerful and adamant fragility, a strength at the point of breaking. The key to characters is that they are changing. Some slightly, some fundamentally, but the whole point of any play is change. What C. Kelly brings to her characters is the life and death tension of that change, the fear of the annihilation of who they were and the strength needed to be new. a soul in danger of shattering, that desperate edge between the madness of holding onto what is no longer tenable and the leap of faith into the unknown that we all face is what C. Kelly shows us with blistering honest in every performance.
So working with her was exhilarating and devastating. The raw love and pain she brought to every performance was heartbreakingly inspiring, and sharing the stage with her was an awesome responsibility. She brought so much each night in “Jazz” that when it came to me telling my side of our relationship it felt like Joe vs. a mountain whose roots reached to the center of the Earth.
It’s was a lot of fun to work with her but man did she set the bar unbelievably high.
At least we ended that play in each other’s arms, as opposed to me leaving her with a bunch of jars of her sons’ legs. That was just messed up.