Livingstone coach trading track action for the stage tonight at CPCC

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 24, 2014

CHARLOTTE — Justin Davis has a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater arts from Western Carolina University.
And tonight, the track and field and cross country coach at Livingstone College will put his degree to good use by performing in a gospel play titled “Purpose!..Don’t Let it Pass You By.”
Written, produced and directed by former Livingstone employee Dorothea George, the play is being performed at the Halton Theater at Central Piedmont Community College at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for senior citizens ages 60 and up.
“I like acting because it gives me a release from my everyday life,” Davis said. “I can be someone else when I’m on stage acting. There’s a lot of stress that goes along with life, so performing is a release for me and I can be whoever I want to be and completely change my persona and circumstances.”
In the play Davis portrays architect Tyland Maxwell.
“He’s a really good guy,” Davis said. “He’s also rich, which I’m not. He’s a rich guy, but he’s a very, very nice guy who’s always wanted to find that special person in his life to stand beside him. In the play he finds a woman that helps him meet his purpose in life. He finds his help mate, as we say.”
George, who worked in the Andrew Carnegie Library at Livingstone several years ago, said she often worked with other writers to help improve their works while she was in college.
“I was always fixing other people’s plays,” George said. “I’d go in as an assistant director and say ‘move this scene around,’ or ‘do this, etc.’ When I began my company I knew what to do and what not to do. Acting and theater are like ministry to me. I’m Christian, and a lot of Christians have the skills to act but lack the opportunity to use it in their lives. With me it’s not just something that I like to do as a job. It’s a calling.”
George owns Oknyx Agency & Productions based in Woodleaf and so far has written six plays. She wrote “Purpose!…Don’t Let it Pass You By” on a yellow legal pad in 1995.
The play was performed in Cleveland six years ago, and Davis also starred in it then after being introduced to George by his mother, Suzette Davis, an associate professor of education and director of student teaching at Livingstone.
“Ms. George is really good friends with my mother,” Davis explained. “When she told my mother about the play, my mother mentioned to her that I had majored in theater in college and that’s how we connected. I enjoy working with Ms. George.”
Livingstone College will be heavily represented in the play. Besides George and Davis, it features Livingstone senior Sam Exum, an accounting major from Goldsboro who’s working as stage manager, freshman Cameron Jackson of Charlotte, who portrays two characters, and Livingstone alumni Joe Elliott and the Rev. Olen Bruner.
Bruner, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Salisbury, portrays a preacher in the play. Tonight will be his first time acting professionally, though he, like Suzette Davis, was a member of the Julia B. Duncan Players Theater Group when he attended Livingstone.
“It’s a beautiful thing that so many Livingstonians are involved in the play,” said Bruner, who graduated from Livingstone in 1977 with a business administration degree and also graduated from Hood Theological Seminary in 1980. “Sam Exum, has done some stage work at Livingstone in Tubman Little Theater, and he’s working with all due diligence on this play and is quite handy.”
Elliott graduated from Livingstone with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts in 2006. In the play he portrays Mr. Ikaus, an older gentleman who imparts sage advice about marriage and relationships.
Elliott, who works for the City of Salisbury and has performed professionally at The Meroney Theater, said he’s excited about his role George’s play.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Elliott said.

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