Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. were so diametrically opposed in their approach to the civil rights fight; one can only imagine what sparks would fly, if they were ever left alone in a room to hash out their differences. Jeff Stetson’s 1987 one-act play The Meeting breathes life into that fantasy on stage.
The Meeting has won dozens of awards, including 8 NAACP Image Awards and an Emmy for the adapted PBS version. It has been staged in every US state and around the world, including South Africa, the Netherlands and the UK. Profile Entertainment and G98.7FM take pride in bringing this culturally significant event to a Toronto audience on April 11th and 12th at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
“To present this play in my home town of Toronto was a no brainer. I believe in entertainment with an extended purpose. It is the vision of Profile Entertainment to enrich the lives of everyone in our community. For those who are unaware, been disconnected, or removed from the civil rights movement; The Meeting serves as a powerful and thought provoking portrait of our past, and offers the dynamic philosophical differences of two of the most celebrated civil rights icons of all time,” says Michael Charles, president of Profile Entertainment.
The fictional meeting happens in a Harlem hotel suite. It’s where Malcolm X and his bodyguard are resting before Malcolm’s fateful speech at the Audubon Ballroom, where he was assassinated. Malcolm reaches out to Dr. King who is also in New York. The two quickly clash about the “right” way to improve the lives of Black people in a predominantly White society. Dr. King (the lamb) hoping to find racial harmony through love and peaceful resistance, while Malcolm (the lion) is reconciled to violence and revenge, “by any means necessary”.
Although such a dramatic and tense meeting never occurred between the two great leaders, (they met briefly only once) Stetson has pulled real quotes and speech/interview excerpts into the script, making for a painfully realistic dramatization.
“While highly mesmeric, eloquently delivered, and rich in entertainment value, the play also affords the audience an opportunity, if only for 90 minutes, to go back to a time where we first heard “Say it loud… I’m black and I’m proud,” says Charles.
For the actors bringing these two seminal icons to life, the experience is equally moving for them.
“I am deeply honored to be part of this production because it fulfills a fundamental mandate of my creative practice: that Art at its best serves to ennoble the human spirit. The towering figures of Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X are desperately needed examples of sacrifice and principled commitment to high ideals,” says Masud Ashley Olufani, who plays the character of Malcolm X.
Kelvin Wade says, “It is a humbling experience for any actor to attempt to channel the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. The intimate nature of the play allows the audience to see these two men three dimensionally as they struggle to reconcile their divergent beliefs. I am so proud to be an active participant in bringing this production to life.”
Producer Michael Charles and all actors are available for interviews.
Masud Ashley Olufani is a television and stage actor who has appeared in Being Mary Jane for the BET Network, Devious Maids for Lifetime, and Johnathan Demme’s new series for AMC, Line of Sight. He holds a BA from Morehouse College and an MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Kelvin Wade was born in Orlando, FL. He is a talented actor, writer, producer and director. He is proud to work with this production along with a great, supportive cast. Kelvin plays a remarkable role as Martin Luther King Jr. and has also previously directed The Meeting when it played in Atlanta in 2010.