"Every Idea That Comes Through our Doors is a Diamond in the Rough"                                  "Every Idea That Comes Through our Doors is a Diamond in the Rough"







The Hampton Park Community Center & Star Productions International presented the award winning children’s play "The Star That Hangs Closest to the Earth". 

"The Star That Hangs Closest to the Earth" written by playwright C. Maria Macon carries a theme that "Difference is not Inferior." The play served as the back drop to the playwright’s exploration of her own views while wrestling with the issues of polarization in our diverse culture today.  It has also been the tool she uses to help teach youth theatre and bring people of culturally diverse backgrounds together, while promoting healthy views about relationships.

The play introduced Jes, a kingly giraffe played by Antonio Butler and Jared Martin, and Ayo, a zebra with no stripes played by Ariel Tunson. The pair finds themselves the talk of the jungle as their animal friends are divided over their pending romance. With the involvement of several different animals including a Sankofa bird played by Arron Mutz, there is only one place to go for advice and so goes the story of The Stars That Hangs Closest to the Earth". The “star” was played by Ona Obiorah.

Hampton Park Community Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created by New Hampton Presbyterian Church. It is located in one of Charlotte, North Carolina’s oldest standing Black communities. The center was awarded a Community Cultural Connections grant from the Arts & Science Council and the Grassroots Program of the NC Arts Council (a state agency). The grant allowed the center to collaborate with Star Productions International, the play’s co-presenter.

Star Productions International is comprised of nine North Carolina artists.  At the helm and serving as board president and CEO is Ms. Macon. "The play used the African Griot storytelling method of employing animals to express the feelings of humans" says Macon. "We are blessed to have a creative staff of professional teaching/artist such as LaTanya Johnson, Trevon Shumpert, Micaila Milburn, Nevil Butler, Johnny Allen and Janetta Deavers (music composer) who lend their talents to this production at the Center. The play's appeal focuses the artists efforts to totally involve young people in every aspects of theatre (not just acting) by conducting a ten-week theatre camp prior to the performance. The camp was held from September 11 - November 20 and was open to children ages 8 - 16. Auditions were held as a part of the total training for the young actors. Other children in the play and the characters that  they played, were: Teyonika Mason – child #1, Sonna Obiorah – child #2, Jasmine Copper and Anna Anorue – Ella a female Peacock, Jesiah Vareene – Gemini an African monkey, De’Mon Brooks – George the elephant, William Butler – Leo the Lion, Brittney Scurry and Komeya Brumell – Lyla the lion’s wife, Marqua’ Adams – Le’Roy a jackle, Tabius Sales and Alton Peques – Roger a rhino, Demetri Adams – Colour a male peacock, Shacari Neely – Cyr a cheetah, Leona Vareene – Zaka a femal giraffe, and Tacorya Mason / Tarshima Mason – Susie a black panther.

As a “treat” for the young performers, one youth participant received the Director’s Choice Award. This award is presented to the youth that displays the most willingness to grow, expand and follow directions during the complete camp. The award category débuted this year. The Director’s Choice    was awarded to Shacari Neely. Young Ms. Neely will receive a $50 U.S. savings bond every month of 2005 for one full year.

There were many corporate supporters of the play event and particularly the theatre camp. Some of the supporters were Rug Busters, Inc., Best Rate Tree Service, Mert’s, TentMakers, Inc. Rainbow Tree, Inc., Costco, Da’Plum Foundation, B.I.R.S.Co Construction, Green’s Cleaning Service, Black Rose Designs, Sankofa Photography, and Sycamore Tree. The organization of Black Business Women, CABWE provided transportation, Food for the workshops and volunteers for 10 weeks.

Star Productions International will conduct a theatre camp this summer, which will culminate in a three-day weekend of performances. They are hopeful of teaming with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation planners to serve as a part of the Park and Recreation Department programming for youth this summer. Applications for the camp will be available February 2005 through Black Child USA.

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