According to Quentin Talley, culture and history live through stories. When the stories fail to be told and retold, the lives of that very culture are lost, erased for all time. It is the artists responsibility whether through visual art, music, dance, or theatre to keep it alive.
Born and raised in Greenwood, South Carolina, Talley cannot remember a time he was not involved in the arts. I played the lead role in the Little Gingerbread Boy, and Ive been in the arts ever since, says Talley. While in High School, he fell in love with literature and poetry and began writing and producing plays at the local community theater. He soon included voice and dance in his repertoire.
Inspired by his professors at Winthrop University, and his family at home, Talley received a BA in Theatre Performance and decided to move to Charlotte, a city he considered full of artistic potential. It was 2006 when Talley founded the On Q Performing Arts. There was not a company dedicated to exploring the black experience in theater in a year round setting, explains Talley. My vision was to bring our stories to the stage while educating and producing classic, contemporary, and original performance works that reflected the black experience.
As Executive Artistic Director, Talley works hard. Hes in charge of picking the plays for the season, choosing the directors and designers for each show, finding support for the company, planning ahead for future seasons, plus other administrative work.
With his aspirations of making On Q an anchor in the community, Talley is always seeking gifted actors, directors, playwrights, set designers, musicians, choreographers, dancers you name it. Hes continually on the lookout for new talent. I do a lot of gigs that are outside of the theater community, says Talley. This allows me the opportunity to keep an eye out for folks whose skills can readily transfer to the theater.
This season opens with Call Me Madam: The Making of an American Millionaire (1/29-2/1). Written and performed by Kami Shalom, a Charlotte native, the play tells the real-life story of Madam CJ Walker, a visionary who was born on a plantation in 1867 yet overcame homelessness and poverty to become Americas first self-made millionaire. Its a one woman show that allows Shalom to explore more than 20 different characters with clarity, sensitivity, humor, and passion, says Talley. February brings The Mountaintop (2/2-3/4) a play directed by Lou Bellamy and presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts. On Q ensemble members, Leshea Stukes and Nick Johnson will be understudies for the main roles, says Talley. The play takes place on April 3, 1968, the night before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated. After retiring to his hotel room in Memphis, a storm rages outside, and he is forced to confront his destiny and his legacy to his people.
Talleys pioneering spirit and determination has firmly grounded On Q Performing Arts in Charlotte. In the companys short history they have been recognized as a high quality performance company, awarded the Blumenthal Center Stage Award, nominated for the MTA Company of the Year Award, and have taken their signature work Miles & Coltrane on the road to Atlanta, Washington, DC, New York City and across the Atlantic to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
For further information on On Q Productions and their performances visit to www.youarenowonq.com.