Get to know the up-and-coming musical theater writer Donta Storey

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Donta Storey is a non-binary actress, writer and filmmaker from Los Angeles, California. Although they wear many creative hats, overall they identify with a storyteller. Their most personal work, Lime began a poem, which became a solo piece, and then an award-winning short. Now he’s back on stage.

Initially, Storey wanted to explore the possibility of making a feature film, but has now opted to write a full production. Located in the urban jungle of Compton in the early 2000s, Lime tells the story of Deshawn, a young man who discovers how difficult it is to live in his truth after experiencing the bitterness of the real world.

Lime won the Best Short Film award at the 2019 San Francisco Black Film Festival, screened at over 14 festivals during its circuit and ended at the Los Angeles Outfest Fusion Festival 2020. It is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video . Storey’s upcoming projects include LiME: the musical, the feature film Run, Joe, run, and campy horror – black comedy short Dooley does a murder! everything is planned for 2021.

Below, Storey talks about their connection to theater and what it was like to create Lime.

What was your first experience exhibiting in the arts?
Of which floor: My exposure to the arts started very early. I was a fan and performer from elementary school to college, and my first role in theater was to portray Hortensio in Shakespeare. The Tamed Shrew in the sixth year. Growing up in Los Angeles, it was easy to explore these interests.

What is the genesis of Lime?
DS: Lime is based on my experiences as a queer youth in Compton (a city adjacent to Los Angeles). It follows a young person exploring the world of majorettes, and although the story explores some very traumatic experiences, it is an inspiring tale in its foundation. As an artist, I found the film to be very cathartic for me. I fell in love with the majorettes and the culture of the drum team and marching bands.

How does the play lend itself to being presented in multiple forms (poem, solo exhibition, short film, temporarily a fully staged production?)
DS: Lime is very emotionally immersive, and it grabs you. I’m glad that during the short time the audience is spending with Deshawn in Lime, not only do they have affection for him, but they feel obligated to encourage him along his journey, which is exciting when you consider stories for the stage. A big part of what makes the movie work is the music, and when you explore what to do with it Lime then it dawned on me that the stage was the natural next step. It has been thrilling turning this movie into a musical, working with the marching band and mixing them with the music we write. Don’t make me start the choreography! I can’t wait to share this with LA, Seattle, and NYC when it’s safe to start working up close again.

What is your approach to theatrical creation?
DS: For me, it’s about exploring what excites you most as an artist. I think the theatrical experience is and should be immersive, which is what makes me most excited to bring my film Lime to the stage. Theater is such a personal experience for every actor and audience member, and I am delighted to take on the challenge of adding to this list of artistic memories. I think it is imperative to use this space. It’s very different from cinema for that reason, and I keep that in mind.

How has your time at California State University-Los Angeles and in the world of community theater affected you professionally and personally?
DS: I found a family and a home away from home in the theater program [there]. My first show at CSULA was Urine city and I remember being so nervous and so scared to even hear. Oddly enough, this series, the cast and crew ended up contributing to one of the best experiences of my life. The inclusiveness I experienced on the LA community stage set the stage for the path I’m currently on in film, and even on TV. Professionally. I think it inspired me to seek out the jobs that scare me and inspired me to tell stories that excite me.


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