Kenny Leon is a Broadway and Hollywood director who makes his home in Atlanta. He won his first Tony award in June for directing a revival of "A Raisin In The Sun" starring Denzel Washington.
Now, Leon is appearing on stage in Atlanta in a production of Bernard Slade’s "Same Time Next Year" at True Colors, his theatre company in Atlanta. His co star is Phylicia Rashad, who created the iconic role of Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show”.
Leon and Rashad have a long history of working together on stage and in film. Phylicia Rashad won a Tony Award in 2004 and became the first African-American to win a Tony for best actress in a play. She won the Tony when she appeared in Leon’s earlier Broadway production of “Raisin In The Sun” which featured rapper Sean Combs in the lead male role.
In a dressing room before the rehearsal Same Time Next Year, “Two Way Street” host Bill Nigut spoke to Rashad and Leon about their 20-year-long professional relationship.
“This is a play about two people—two married people—who are not married to each other. But who come together in the same place at the same time every year,” said Rashad. “And the play spans a 25 year period. But you see in the play how people connect. How people grow. How people change. How love and friendship are enduring.”
Leon and Rashad realized in 20 years of working together, they’d never acted together—a goal that was on their bucket list.
“Phylicia and I have done, I think, 10 projects together now,” said Leon. “And most of the time with me directing her, it’s no secret that she’s my favorite artist on the planet. Just because she can do so many things and she has such a great way of approaching the material.”
It was Rashad’s manager, Johnnie Planco, who suggested “Same Time Next Year.”
“So I said ‘yes’ before I even read the play,” said Leon. "And then I read the play and said ‘oh my God’. We’re going to do this? I have to be onstage with Phylicia Rashad? I have to be in love with her over a 30 year period? And we’re both cheating on our husbands and wives? But it’s a beautiful play about the foundation of a relationship."
When New York Times best-selling author Jeff Shaara was a teenager, his father Michael wrote a historical novel about the Civil War called The Killer Angels.
The book won a Pulitzer Prize, but Michael died before it became a bestseller.
After his father’s death, Jeff Shaara, who had been working as a coin dealer in Florida, picked up where Michael left off.
Shaara has now written fourteen historical novels, and most have landed on the New York Times bestseller list.
His newest book, The Smoke at Dawn, tells the story of the bloody battles of North Georgia and Tennessee that paved the way for General William Sherman’s march through Georgia.
2014 is the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, and one of Shaara’s inspirations for the book.
In 2011,the 150th anniversary of the beginning of The Civil War, Shaara had the idea to do a trilogy. He wanted to focus on the part of the war in Shiloh, Tennessee and then Vicksburg, Mississippi.
The bestselling author wanted the third installation to focus on Atlanta and Sherman’s march to the sea. But then, he realized something was missing.
“And I realized that if I skipped from Vicksberg to Atlanta," said Shaara, "I just skipped a whole bunch of history.”
The Tour de France started Saturday morning in Yorkshire, England.
It’s only the third time in the bike race’s history that the Tour has started in Britain.
But the people of Yorkshire have mixed feeling about the attention they are getting.
Weeks ago, English hospitality volunteers were warned by Tour organizers and race officials not to use popular pet phrases and were told not to call visitors pet names such as “pet,” ‘love,” “mate,” or other common terms of endearment.
The reason was published on an online manual for race volunteers:
“They may sound friendly to you, but they could offend some people.”
In June, the Wall Street Journal ran an article on the banishment of pet names, and how it put a damper on the pre-race preparations. The discontent wasn’t limited to only race volunteers. Plenty of British people were upset about the idea of a “loveless” Yorkshire.
"It's a load of twaddle," said Roy Stockdill, a genealogist from Yorkshire. "Don't they understand the British people are like that?"
The headmaster of the Atlanta International School, Kevin Glass, agrees. Glass is from the north of England, and he says those pet names are part of a cultural identity.
“I thought it was an absolute outrage,” said Glass. “If you think about how language and culture inform and shape identity. You know, if you’re from the north of England, this is a part of you. It’s a part of your soul. And if you’re welcoming people from all over the world to your next of the woods, then how an earth can you become some kind of fake, bland, tour guide.”