#Up2MHu: Black when I was a Boy and Black Out

by Office of Title IX

Cultural #Up2MHU PAWS - A Credit

Tue, Sep 26, 2023

6 PM – 8 PM EDT (GMT-4)

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Frankie Bates’ solo show, Black When I Was A Boy, Part II: Black Out, features Bates bringing multicultural characterizations through the lens of an honest, moving, and even humorous look at a complex, fascinating, and powerful coming-of-age story. Black Out is an autobiographical recollection of the extraordinary inner life of Bates' younger self—Frankie Bates. Bates' story takes us from childhood as he grows into a young adult when he moves to Dallas, Texas, with big ambitions in the pursuit of obtaining significance in his life through the entertainment industry.


Leaving his small-town life in Hill City, Kansas, at the age of 21, he enrolls in a prestigious drama school, only to be confronted by disheartening stereotypes during a typecasting exercise. Labels like "hood," "thug," "drug dealer," "slave," and "pimp" threaten to shatter his self-worth, forcing him to grapple with his place in a society that so often misjudges him.


Amid the chaos, Frankie finds solace in a profound friendship with Belinda, who becomes his unwavering pillar of support. Together, they navigate the complexities of pursuing their passion while challenging the entrenched biases that society holds for both.


The pivotal moment arrives when Frankie lands the role of Jackie Robinson, initially struggling with the notion of being confined to a one-dimensional portrayal. He wrestles with the idea of “being a black man, playing a black man, just because he’s a black man, all while portraying the oppressive life of a black man.” It’s a struggle that reflects his lifelong self-reflection, nurtured since his Hill City days.


Bates’ journey takes an unforeseen twist with the arrival of the enigmatic "Pope." As their paths entwine, the emotional turmoil caused by his feelings about his identity becomes a prison, a vulnerability that Pope exploits.


"Black Out" delves into the darkness that envelops this journey, exploring themes of manipulation, resilience, and the quest for self-discovery.


In the face of betrayal, assault, and loss, Frankie's unyielding spirit is tested to its limits. Yet, through these trials, he discovers a wellspring of inner strength that refuses to be extinguished. "Black Out" is a narrative of reclamation, where the most painful moments serve as catalysts for profound transformation.


As "Black Out" unfolds, Bates masterfully weaves a rich tapestry of perseverance, triumph, and the relentless pursuit of authentic self-worth. Each twist and revelation in "Black Out" crafts a riveting exploration of the intricate layers of human nature, resilience, and the undying pursuit of dreams.


"Black Out" won the Most Inspired Performance Award at the Asheville Fringe Festival and the coveted Hollywood Encore Producers Award at the Hollywood Fringe. It also had the honor of headlining the 369 Festival, with both shows at the Tina McGuire Theatre in the Wortham Center, playing to sold-out audiences

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