United Voice: New Production House Gives Black Artists Space To Create

Friday, July 12th 2019, 5:58 pm
By: News 9

The new Vanguart Production House is providing a safe space for African-American artists to create here in OKC. Actors discussed the tough challenges they face finding work, as well as the tough subjects they tackle in Vanguart's first play. 

The Vanguart's inaugural production is holding nothing back.

“The Life Cycle Of A Butterfly”, written by LaCharles Purvey, is a tale of sexual assault and overcoming that trauma.

“It could actually make you better and not bitter, which is a very common phrase, but there’s a lot of truth in that,” said Regina Banks, who plays the lead character Sunni in the play.

Banks herself created The Vanguart in January. She, like many women in our community, has a personal connection to the subject.

“Unfortunately, #MeToo,” Banks said, “and I don’t have enough fingers to count the times that I have been assaulted or attacked physically by other men.”

This production provided something these actors rarely see on stage, however, an intimacy coach plus a fighting coach.

Kamron McClure, who plays opposite Banks as Tariq, said, “This experience with this show just shows that you can explore something tragic and dangerous with safety and professionalism.

Banks said being an actress in Oklahoma City previously was “suffocating”.

“Many times, we’re only offered certain roles, character actor or a small role,” she said.

Young actors like McClure are hopeful that The Vanguart will open the doors to change that.

“I think it’s growing,” he said of the black acting scene. “I think we have a lot of talent here and it just needs to be utilized.”

Banks hopes to pack the house and share the message of the first show with not only adults, but also their daughters and sons.

“These are conversations that we have at home,” admitted the mother of three. “I have a 17-year-old daughter, and already, she has been groped on several occasions. That shouldn’t happen.”

You can check out “The Life Cycle of a Butterfly” July 18-21 at the Howard Theater inside Heritage Hall Middle School. For show times and to purchase tickets, click here.

Editor’s Note: News 9 is part of a local initiative that brings all of our local media outlets together to give Oklahoma a United Voice in promoting a healthy dialogue on race. To see more stories, visit UnitedVoiceOK.org.