By Dan Yount
The Cincinnati Herald
Cincinnatian Isaiah Reaves took the stage the evening of Monday, October, 28, at the Samuel’s Studio at Lincoln Center Plaza in New York City to participate in the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Playwright’s Playground, a series that highlights emerging artists and exciting new works.
Reaves, who is a senior studying playwriting at Northern Kentucky University, read sections of his play, “The Black Boy in Pink,’’ a play he has written about a gay Black man in Cincinnati in 1959.
Reaves is Cincinnati’s most produced playwright. His 2018 Cincy Fringe play, “The Blackface Project” and was a “CityBeat” Critic Pick. He has written 10 full length plays, six of which have been fully produced in Greater Cincinnati.
Reaves was joined on the Lincoln Center stage by two other readers, who were also selected from hundreds of entries to participate in Playwright’s Playground. They were Jeanie T. Abraham, an actor, writer and producer with her own production company, and Sharace M. Sellem, a playwright, choreographer, director and performing arts instructor from New Haven, Connecticut.
“We were lucky to be chosen,’’ Reaves said.
“The Black Boy in Pink’’ was presented last spring at NKU, and received a great reception, Reaves said. “I then submitted the play to different theaters, and The Classical Theatre of Harlem was the first to reach out to me,’’ he added.
The play is about a Black gay prostitute in Cincinnati in 1959, and shows the difficulties a young Black male prostitute faces within himself as well as his encounters with his pimp and with a wealthy White male customer and his family when he tries to break free and start a new life.
“The play takes place in a Cincinnati that no longer exists, the city’s old West End,’’ Reaves said. “It is based on my personal experiences as a gay Black man.’’
The League of Cincinnati Theatres describes the play as an “exceptional script filled with fleshed-out characters and a highly personal story that may be a revelation to audiences, and a lead character that is singularly unique, not a characterization nor meant to be pitied. Remember the name Isaiah Reaves…I hope there will be much more from his pen on stages soon.”
Reaves. 21, started writing when he was 11.
Betty Daniels Rosemond, his grandmother, who is a celebrated Freedom Rider in the Cincinnati and Oxford, Ohio, area, writes poetry and inspired Reaves to write at an early age,’’ he said.
I always wanted to write about personal experiences, Black history and important topics in our society,’’ Reaves said. “I am so blessed and fortune to be able to do what I do, and I thank everybody who helped get me here.’’
He has applied to study his craft at several graduate schools and is also looking at some professional opportunities, he said.
Although his family could not attend the Lincoln Center appearance Monday, Reaves said he knew they were there in spirit.
For more information about Reaves, visit isaiahreaves.com.