Je’ McClain is back with a play that’s sure to please! Devin the stage play will have two performances (5 and 8 p.m.) on February 14, 2018 at the Charles H. Wright Museum. Below, talented Je’ and R&B Diva Meli’sa Morgan discuss Devin, which depicts the effects of locking away emotions and experiences…it’s only a matter of time before the ticking time bomb explodes!
Meli’sa Morgan, you have been an electric force musically and will share your voice as the entertainment for the upcoming stage play, Devin. How do you ensure a delightful experience?
Any great performance stems from the heart and from keeping it real. So, you have to have passion and love…and I do have that for my music, and to be real and true to the audience…I look forward to giving them that.
MC:Your song, “Fool’s Paradise,” has been sampled by Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige in 1996, and now for the Love & Hip Hop: Miami theme song, which is one of the most popular hit shows of today
MM:Oh my gosh! It makes me feel really good to know a song I did over 20 years ago still has legs of its own. My music is my legacy and it’s carried me through for 20-something years. I’m just hoping [my] new music carries me for another 20 years – who knows?
MC: So, clearly your music has contributed to the culture through the eras. How do you feel you’ve successfully done this?
MM: I think my music has kept it real. There’s a lot of sampling, and people using – what’s that called?
MM: Auto-tune! I wouldn’t dare touch my vocals in the studio, and I think the industry gives me the respect of being a real singer. I recently attended the 60th Grammy Awards; soon as I hit the red carpet, I heard, “Your music has inspired me to be who I am and be real to the art.”
MC: Je’ McClain, it’s clear Meli’sa is a force to be reckoned with; is this why you thought she’d be such a great fit for Devin?
JM: It’s funny you say that…we were just talking about her actually being in the play! We’re taking Devin across state lines, so there are a couple characters that Ms. Morgan can definitely take on [laughing]. And I really thought that because she is known for “Do Me Baby” and “Fool’s Paradise,” she’d be able to set the tone for a beautiful, romantic evening – sort of an out-of-the-house “Netflix and chill” – and the play will give the excitement and adrenaline!
MC: How do you feel this play contributes to the culture? What do you hope that the audience…that society takes away from it?
JM: I impact society as an urban playwright. Every play that I’ve [written], I want you to take a piece that will make you a better person. Also, Devin (the character) is a young pastor, [so] Devin shows the other side of modern-day church – the things that tend to be hidden. The spiritual culture has changed.
MC: What about the parts of culture that not many people want to discuss? When I read about the play, my mind immediately went to the stigma associated with Blacks and mental health. And then I thought about our Black men – the common culture is to suppress their emotions. Fortunately, there’s been more positive talk surrounding the issue…was something like this on your mind when you wrote Devin? Is there an experience that maybe you would like to share that led to your production of the play?
JM: Like you said, a lot of Black men do not express themselves. I’m a mother of two young men, and they tend to not deal with inner emotions. Devin (the character) didn’t, and it came out in a negative way. I didn’t want it to be a male-bashing play, I just want to show that [someone] can do damage to [a person’s] soul, especially in church. You can have someone who wants to know God – because they have those inner demons that they don’t want to talk about because of the stigma in our culture to not go to therapy – so they go to the church to try and handle it, but they get wounded there…like myself. There’s certain things that Devin cries out, and I think it’s going to touch a lot of people.
As McClain and Morgan detailed, there’s a lot of “realness” being poured into this play. Both women dig really deep and reveal intimate parts of themselves that will bring the story of Devin to life. Devin is McClain’s first play that will be going on tour, and it’s also the 20th stage play that she’s written. Find out more by following @jetheplaywright on Instagram and Twitter.