KSU’s African-American Theatre presents ‘Ain’t Nothing But A Thang’



Denzel Washington, freshman theater studies major, Tyesasha Doss, Jessica Ransome and Cara White perform in “Ain’t Nothing But a Thang”at Oscar Ritchie Hall on April 12. Photo by Nancy Urchak.

Candice Dungan

“Ain’t Nothing But a Thang” received mixed reviews opening night. The play, presented by Kent State’s African Community Theatre, depicts an African-American family dealing with drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, illiteracy and ignorance during the ‘90s.

“I don’t think this is a typical interpretation of black lifestyle,” said Kaitlyn Sapp, freshman theatre studies major. “I think its stereotyping African-Americans.”

Other audience members found the play relatable and felt it had an important message for Kent State students.

“I see it as an educational tool to talk about sex and drugs,” said Debra Drone, Kent State alumna. “It doesn’t have anything to do with race.”

“I think it’s good they talk about those things,” said Sara Shuss, a freshman at Kent State Tuscarawas campus. “We have the same problems in our own family, and everyone has family members like that.”

Lead actor Denzel Washington, freshman theatre studies major, said although the play is somewhat stereotypical, the message it sends to the audience is important.

“There are some aspects that are stereotypical of course, but there are a lot of other shows out there that stereotype races such as ‘Family Guy’ and ‘The Cleveland Show,’” Washington said. “The difference with this show is that there is a lesson for people to learn.”

The script, written by Marlin T. Tazewell, is a winner of the National AIDS Fund/CFDA-Vogue Initiative Playwriting Award and was chosen by the Kent State’s Practicum in African Theatre Arts class.

“We wanted to pick something that would attract a college audience,” said Jessica Ransome, sophomore public health major, Practicum in African Theatre Arts student and one of the lead actors.

The actors have been rehearsing Monday through Friday for the past two months in preparation for opening night. Although there was controversy over the theme of the script, the audience was in agreement that the actors did a great job.

“They are pretty good,” said Cynthia Higgins, program assistant for Upward Bound. “All characters are on point.”

Opening night was Friday, but students will have a chance to see the play this weekend in the African Community Theatre at Oscar Ritchie Hall Room 230. The play is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday night, as well as 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for the community.

Contact Candice Dungan [email protected].