By Tatum Mitchell | Staff Writer
“Moon Man Walk,” Baylor University’s first play featuring an all-Black cast, as well as a Black playwright and director, opens at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and runs through Sunday.
Sam Henderson, lecturer in the theater and film department, is the director of “Moon Man Walk,” written by James Ijames. This is the first play under Henderson’s direction, and he said the hope is for this to be the first of many opportunities to feature underrepresented voices in the theater.
“Our goal is that this is not something that becomes novel or special,” Henderson said. “We think this will be successful if this is really just the start of something that is a normal occurrence.”
“Moon Man Walk” is about a man, Spencer, who is tasked with burying his mother. According to Baylor’s website, the play revolves around the retelling of a story Spencer’s mother told him when he was a child; his mother said his absent father was an astronaut on the moon.
Henderson said the play ends the season on a hopeful note with a light at the end of the tunnel. The play is about family and loss, but it also features a character who finds love and support along the way. All the actors are Black, but their experiences in the play are not foreign to anyone, Henderson said.
“I hope, if nothing else, that [the] audience takes away this warmth of familiarity and commonality with the story that they see on stage,” Henderson said. “Perhaps it provides a little hope for them as they look around the people in their lives who have helped them, supported them, loved them along the way through the most difficult times.”
Henderson said this play was suggested to him during COVID-19 in the summer of 2020, but he was not interested in putting it on until performing for a live audience was possible.
San Antonio senior Hannah Charles plays the mother, a flight attendant and nurse. Charles said she is excited to have a show she can perform live again.
“I know I’m really lucky and appreciative to do work like this,” Charles said. “It’s really important to me, especially work by Black playwrights. It’s so special to see how much work the department’s putting into this and how much effort we are putting into this.”
“Moon Man Walk” is a love letter to mothers and cherished loved ones, Charles said. With a cast of four and many people working behind the scenes, Charles said it’s been a smooth process that makes it “easy to keep things real.”
Charles said this is a milestone production for Baylor. She said she hopes to see more plays from diverse playwrights because fun shows are important, but sharing stories and learning is essential as well.
“Theater can entertain us, and it should also challenge us,” Charles said. “I think it can do both.”