How do you define yourself as an artist?
Charla: Someone always trying to take it to the next level. I want to succeed in meeting all my little goals and big ones too.
What has inspired you to stay active in theater?
Charla: Positive feedback, actual work, and that what I'm doing has an effect on someone, whether it be moving them emotionally to tears, laughter, or they just can't stop talking about it. The end result is knowing that it sits with them, especially if [the work is] something to make them take notice of what's happening in the world.
Read the Artfully Engaging blog post featuring Theatre Unbound's performance of "The Most Massive Woman Wins" during the 2015 Minnesota Fringe Festival.
Charla: I relive [the performance] before I take it to the stage. A mini performance either within myself or in the car or theater space. Then I listen. I'm becoming more comfortable now with acting my lines out at home even if my husband is there; I used to be shy around him. Now I have a "dressing room" at home where I can do just that.
Why were you initially drawn to be a part of Ruby?
Charla: Well, first of all it's a Black history play and I'm always trying to make people aware of the history that we don't want to repeat. Ruby! is a story about a brave little six-year-old girl who dealt with a lot of hate just to go to school with white students and receive an equal education. I also enjoy getting to work with director Anya Kremenetsky again, and working on a play by Christina Ham, a Black female playwright here in Minnesota, is an honor.
What is your role in the play?
Charla: I play Lucille Bridges, Ruby's mom. I encourage her to keep the faith and just trust in God to get her through.
If you could describe Ruby! in three words, what would they be?
Charla: Encouraging, Emotional, Motivating.
What's your favorite line from the play?
Charla: I actually have two. "You thank God for today and the gift that'll be tomorrow?" I'm glad that line is in the play. So often when we pray we are asking God for something and not thanking him for what we already have. And my other favorite line is, "Ruby Nell, I know that wasn't you screaming, y'all keep it down in there!" This is such a mama line.
Charla: Rewarding. There are more children than adults in the cast and I've never experienced a kid's show like that before. These kids are doing their thing. You ask, they do. I've also gotten the chance to move muscles both physically and vocally that I haven't used in a while.
What has it been like working with this cast of young people?
Charla: Fun, a lot of fun. I love working with kids. I also know that they are watching me so I'm trying to be the example for them to follow. I'm also watching them and learning as well.
This is the second time that SteppingStone Theater is producing this [Christina Ham] version of Ruby! From your experience so far, why do you think this show has been so popular?
Charla: It's history; people want to hear about it and they want their kids to know about it, and getting kids to tell the story is a great way to do that. These kids are enjoying themselves immensely.
What's next for you?
Charla: I'm working with Theatre Coup D' Etat. I'll be playing Titania in A Midwinter Night's Dream, a role I've always wanted to play. I'm very excited about that and getting to work with the Ivey Award-winning director James Napoleon Stone. This play is actually a Valentine's Day benefit gala for SAVE - Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.
How do you promote your theater work since you work with a number of local companies?
Charla: I do a lot of promotion via social media. I use Facebook, Twitter, occasionally LinkedIn, emails, word of mouth, and if I have postcards I drop those off at local theaters, bring them to rehearsals and pass them out, whatever I can. These interviews help as well, thank you for the opportunity.
Ticket Information: Ruby! The Story of Ruby Bridges
February 5-28, 2016
In 1960, the front lines of the struggle for Civil Rights ran right up to the front steps of an elementary school in New Orleans.
Imagine you’re a six-year-old ready to start first grade, and suddenly you’re in all the papers, and it seems that half the world wants to stop you from going to school. It would take all the courage you can muster just to get out of bed.
But little Ruby Bridges bravely faces the danger. Ruby’s true story struggle is an inspiration!
Students & Seniors: $12.00
Small Groups: $10.00
Groups of 20+ (homeschool groups): $8.00
Follow the conversation on social media:
SteppingStone Theatre on Facebook and @stepstonestpaul on Twitter.
Charla Marie Bailey on Facebook and @CharlaMBailey on Twitter.
55 Victoria Street North
Saint Paul, MN 55104