Are we really free?

The economic state of black men is in shambles. It’s hard for black men to escape poverty. Black men can work a full-time job, go to college, get a degree, never get a speeding ticket, and still be told that they don’t qualify for a well-paying job. But bills still got to get paid somehow. But without a proper job to do such, how can these men provide for their families? What more can they do, except resort to unconventional means for survival? And the real impact is on the psyche of these men. A man that can’t get ahead no matter what he tries can get depressed. As that depression weighs in, he may eventually become removed from this life, so much so that he takes his own life. A choice to escape the solution to a problem that has existed in the black community ever since the end of slavery. Although blacks may no longer be shackled physically, the mental shackles of depression still hold the minds of men in this community.

This year’s show reveals what happens to the mental state of a man whose only desire is to provide for his family but is unable to do so no matter what length he goes to. Facing the threat of eviction, the story follows Aaron and the limited options that he has to stop his family from becoming homeless. Will Aaron be able to come up with the money in time to keep the apartment, or will the mental stress of his life drive him to make a permanent solution to his never-ending problem?

Last year my show for the St Lou Fringe dealt with the plight of the black male in American and how America hasn’t come as far as it thinks in terms of courtroom and police practices with blacks. The process for creating this show was hard, but worth it, especially since I never produced before. I was scared out of my mind to embark on this journey. I had to create a show from scratch, find actors for it, direct it, market it, put it under the lights, create videos, posters, video graphics, play bills, schedule rehearsals, and lastly pray the actors remember their lines and blocking. Not too hard right? Did I mention that I had never done this before? Figuring out each stage was all a part of the madness that I had to learn if I was going to be successful with this show. Thankfully the Fringe was there to help. So, with my crazy artistic vision for black art and the professional help from the Fringe, I created my show and it was a huge success. For this year, I plan on bringing tougher concepts, while still delivering premium theater to audiences.

As for myself, I am a multi-talented artist. Select credits include, but are not limited to, dancer for the UMSL’s Fall and Spring dance concert, solo dance artist for "After Orlando," "My Country," UMSL lunar solar event, Grand Center’s theater crawl, played the role of Winston in "1984," the Reverend in "Gay Fantasia," the "Tinman" in the Wiz, A. Philip Randolph in "the T.D. MacNeal," head choreographer of gifted productions show "Boham’s Inn," lead choreographer of an original written work tilted "Kissed by Judas," played the role of Jake in "EM" produced Because Why Not Theater, and performed various other works with other professional STL theater companies.

Outside of creating plays and dance pieces for social justice, I love going to theme parks, zip lining, parasailing, cooking, writing poetry, reading, chilling with friends, going to movies and plays, seeing dance concerts, and binge watching the newest online TV craze.

I hope that this year’s production brings light to the struggles of the men of the black community and drives us to come together and find solutions for them.

2017 Future of the Fringe award winner Tony Marr, Jr. returns to the festival with a provocative new work, “Pain.” Marr’s voice is loud and clear, and his show demonstrates a commitment to exploring the experience of black men in the United States of America through his art. St Lou Fringe is pleased to welcome this rising star back to our stages.

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