If you are seeking a family-oriented activity this weekend, consider bringing the brood to Woodlawn High School to see Faith in the Furnace, a Gospel play produced by Platinum Roots Entertainment. The play which kicked off tonight (4/20 at 8 p.m.) has Saturday (4/21) and Sunday (4/22) show times at 8 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.
Baltimore's own Tatum Bullock stars as the matriarch, Bessie Mae Nelson, in the play. I had the opportunity to interview Bullock who is not only a talented actress, but a devoted, licensed social worker, too.
Lynn Pinder: Who are you and what do you do?
Tatum Bullock: I am a licensed social worker. I work with children in a foster care program in Baltimore County. I have been in the field for seven years. I earned my Master's degree in July 2011 and obtained my license in December 2012. I love to act ... I desire to do acting as a profession full-time because I love the Arts. I have been performing in the Arts since I was a little girl. I used to compete in oratory competitions and dramatic readings. I put it aside, but when I got older and joined Restoring Life International Church (RLIC), I joined the drama ministry. It reminded me of how much I really loved acting.
LP: What is your latest theatrical performance?
TB: Faith in the Furnace is a Gospel play that starts tonight at Woodlawn High School.
LP: What is the name of the production company that is producing the play?
TB: Platinum Roots Entertainment is a production company out of Baltimore. The director’s name is Ja’Kay Pierce. Back in 2009, we performed the same play and we had a good response. It was sold out all three nights. The production company decided to bring it out for an encore presentation. Ja'Kay is an up and coming director. This is her first real major production.
LP: What is the target audience for the play?
TB: Faith in the Furnace is a family-oriented, Gospel stage play.
LP: What message do you think people will get from viewing the play?
TB: The play shares a message of Christ. It reminds us to trust Christ in any situation, and He will bring you out. The play is not so much for little kids, but is for the family. It talks about respecting your parents; it touches on issues of abuse and offers a different perspective for some people who thought about suicide.
LP: Could you tell me more about your role in the play?
TB: The play is about a mother and her three sons. I play the part of the mother, Bessie Mae Nelson. The play is based on the biblical reference of the three boys in the furnace. It offers a look into the real life issues that people face as they go through in the furnace, and it shows how they come out. In the play, you get the opportunity to see how Bessie and her family work through their furnace situation.
LP: What was the most challenging aspect of your preparation for the play?
TB: My character Bessie is about 65 years old. She is an old lady pushing 70. To a degree. I have often been told that I have an old spirit. The most difficult part of this role is that I have to wear a 40-pound vest to slow me down. I have to put on a leotard and stuff it to make me larger before even putting on the weighted vest. I always leave sweaty feeling like I lost a few pounds.
LP: What do you hope people will get out of seeing the play?
TB: I really hope that people come out to see this production. I hope they will know that Christ is real, and He heals and He delivers. I want people who view the paly to know that there is hope for them and that they can overcome any situation. I want people to see themselves in me and see how far they have come and where they can come. I hope the play touches home for some people and cause them to treasure their family. With the world being the way it is, one day you see people the next you don’t. I want people who come out to see the play to have fun with friends and family members and be entertained because this play is a form of entertainment, too.
LP: What has been your most joyous experience in preparation for the play?
TB: The camaraderie that has developed between the cast. The friendships that have come out of it ... I just can't describe it. Because I see everybody so many times a week, we are family. We all leave the production with more people in our circle. Even with the director and her family ... they have embraced us and we have become one large extended family. I'm happy to be doing this. It gets me closer to my dream of getting on the big screen ... no role is ever too small.
LP: What advice would you give anyone interested in pursuing acting?
TB: I encourage people to go to community theatres and to get some professional training. Getting professional training was one of the best things I ever did. I knew I had a passion and gift and knack to act, but it was important to perfect my gift. Training can prepare you for casting calls and auditions; it can also help you with technique. It is also important to talk to people who know the business. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a lot of good training classes with excellent teachers. Sometimes we feel like I’m good at this God gave me a gift, but God wants us to perfect our gift. Get good training to help fortify the gift and go do it. Networking at different events, going online and into the community is good, too.
To purchase tickets or to obtain more information regarding Faith in the Furnace, please call Betty Mill at 410-456-0838, Ja'Kay Pierce at 410-968-442, or Karen Outlaw at 443-831-5475.