Trying to go home

Nicole Weible

African Community Theatre pays respects to lost playwright

Clare Lee, played by Brandi Davis, and Bootsie, played by Jennie M. Moore, reminisce after the loss of their mother and friend in the play “Going Home” presented by the African Community Theatre. The play, written by Beauguard O’Neal Jr. and directed by F

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Heaven doesn’t open for seven hours after a person dies.

Maebelle, the central character in the play “Going Home,” welcomed the audience by explaining that she wasn’t able to enter heaven until seven hours after her funeral so she could make sure her family would be all right.

The family-themed “Going Home” was performed by the cast of the African Community Theatre over the weekend at The Center of Pan-African Culture in Oscar Ritchie Hall.

“Going Home” was written by Beauguard O’Neal Jr. from Ravenna. The playwright worked with the African Community Theatre at Kent State for 30 years as an actor, costume designer, hair stylist, singer, prop manager and make-up artist.

Marlene Dorsey, dean of the College of Continuing Studies, said O’Neal worked a lot in the community.

“He was very talented,” she said. “He was known for his beautiful voice.”


• Performance times:

Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Sunday at 3 p.m.

• General admission:

$10 for the public

$7 for students

• More events throughout April and May to bring black cultural activities to people in the area

• All the events held in The Center of Pan-African Culture in Oscar Ritchie Hall

The play represents the final chapter of O’Neal’s life. After contributing to more than 25 performances, O’Neal started to write “Going Home.” He was unable to finish because of his death on Dec. 2, she said. The play was finished by his friends Clarice Scott, Traci Williams and Fran Dorsey.

Marlene Dorsey said there is a lot of reality in the play, as some parts reflect O’Neal’s family life. The play is a combination of comedy and drama about Maebelle, a mother and grandmother, who has passed away.

The play begins with Maebelle explaining to the audience how beautiful her funeral was. She says the deceased must wait seven hours before they enter heaven because they first must take care of business with their families. Throughout the performance, her two daughters, son, sister and best friend reflect back on the life of Maebelle.

Junior history major John Lively attended the play yesterday.

“It was hilarious,” he said. “O’Neal must have had an amazing family.”

According to the program, the African Community Theatre is a ongoing program created in 1973 to expose the young and old, black and white, to the theater heritage of African people.

Contact international affairs reporter Nicole Weible at [email protected].