"Safe at Home" by Anthony D'Juan concludes its run at Children's Theatre of California (B Street Theatre) on March 12th.
When I asked 29-year-old Anthony D’Juan which came first for him – acting or writing plays – he was quick to respond.
D’Juan began working on his play about Jackie Robinson last October, and started rewrites in January, when the show went into rehearsal. He says rewriting involves different tasks.
Playwriting also means knowing your audience. And in the case of “Safe At Home,” that audience is typically a crowd of youngsters, who don’t always have a long attention span.
The story of Robinson’s life put D’Juan in an interesting position. Robinson is famous, but he retired from baseball almost 50 years ago – before most of today’s audience was born. And Robinson’s story involves aspects of American history that are pretty unpleasant – including blatant segregation, and hecklers.
D’Juan decided to show discrimination in young Robinson’s life in a setting that almost every kid is familiar with – a parent teacher conference at an elementary school.
(excerpt from play)
Did the playwright succeed in getting audiences to feel that discrimination, and admire Jackie Robinson’s rise as the first black player in the big leagues? I asked basketball star Bonzi Wells of the Sacramento Kings, who saw the show recently.