Part of the cast of Back 2 the Playground poses in character while rehearsing.
ALTON | With the rain at a (mostly) end, local playwright Leah Becoat is bringing the theater outside this summer with her latest play.
“Back 2 the Playground” will be shown at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 30, at Webster Temple Church of God in Christ, 1100 Highland Ave. The play is open to the public and admission is free.
In “Back 2 the Playground”, Ellis, a studious nerd, does his best in order to stand up to the neighborhood bully, while his best friend Keith develops a crush on Lucky, the new girl from Los Angeles. The play focuses on growing up, making responsible choices, and the always challenging issue of bullying among school aged children.
“Back 2 the Playground” is the sequel to Becoat’s last play, “Playgrounded,” and much like its predecessor, it focuses on the hardships that today’s youth face.
Becoat, 46, writer and director, said that writing and storytelling have come naturally to her from an early age. She enjoys most prose such as poetry, short stories, and of course, plays. She said she always has had a love of drama, theater, and visual arts.
“I had written skits and plays for my home church for years,” Becoat said. “But I really stepped out writing full-fledged plays in 2013.”
She believes that her ability of storytelling is a gift and hopes that one day that gift could take her to L.A., and she is committed on youth productions.
“I always want to be able to give back to the youth,” she said. “So I will always have a youth summer production.”
To provide as much authenticity as possible, Becoat consulted with some of the kids who were in “Playgrounded” to see what issues needed to be covered in “Back 2 the Playground.”
“I feel like it’s a great opportunity for students to come out and see that kids are doing things in the community and to show them that there are other ways that the streets,” Jordan Wilson, who plays Faith, said. “I think it’s a positive movement and it’s good for the kids.”
Becoat has nothing but praise for the diverse group of teens that make up the cast. While her cast is made up of state athletes, National Junior Honor Society and National Honor Society members, only a few have previous stage experience.
“I tell people commitment trumps talent,” Becoat said. “So if you’re committed, we can work on your talent.”
Cast members include Courtney Wilson, 15, Torre Simon, 14, Tahler Holloway, 12, Charlette Jackson, 17, Jayla Fox, 14, Syrr Collins, 19, Jordann Wilson, 18, Angelica Jones, 11, Jewelnae Washington, 16, Jewel Wagoner, 17, and Devon Thomas, 19.
Before the play there will be a preshow that includes spoken word poetry, Christian rap, and other performances. Free popcorn will be provided by Baxter’s and audience members are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs. In the case of rain the play will be moved inside the church.