Rain Pryor grew up in the shadow of one of the biggest names in show business — she’s the daughter of the late comedian Richard Pryor. But she’s long since earned a name for herself in theater and film, a name that a local theater company in Baltimore is hoping will rejuvenate its venue. Pryor joins Kojo in studio to chat about her work and vision for the Strand Theater Company, which just started its fifth season.

Guests

  • Rain Pryor Artistic Director, Strand Theater Company; actor, singer, producer, and comedian; also author of "Jokes My Father Never Taught Me: Life, Love, and Loss with Richard Pryor"

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Transcript

  • 13:28:30

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIRain Pryor grew up in a home where entertainment was the family business but now she's trying to help make entertainment a Baltimore business and a better business for Charmed City's female talent. Earlier this year Pryor took over as artistic director at the Strand Theater, an unpaid job at an intimate 55-seat venue with a shoestring budget that bears little resemblance to some of the high profile TV gigs that mark the early part of her career, or to life in the high-flying circle she grew up in around her father, the legendary comedian Richard Pryor.

  • 13:29:02

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIShe joins us to share her vision for the theater which she hopes is in store for the future of Baltimore's artistic community. Rain Pryor's an actor, producer and author. She's now the artistic director of the Strand Theater Company in Baltimore, Md. She'll be performing her one-woman show "Fried Chicken and Latkes" tonight at the Atlas Theater here in Washington, D.C. Rain Pryor, good to see you again.

  • 13:29:24

    MS. RAIN PRYORGood to see you too. Thank you so much.

  • 13:29:26

    NNAMDIThe last time we talked some six years ago, we spent a lot of time discussing the home you grew up in, a multiracial, multicultural hurricane of a place that swirled around your father's fondness for drugs and prostitutes. But now home has a very different meaning for you. It's a working class city in Maryland, a tiny theater with a yearly budget of just $30,000. Why did you choose Baltimore and the Strand Theater as the places you wanted to call home?

  • 13:29:54

    PRYORYou know, I had two friends that lived there and I felt that I needed to get out of Los Angeles and make a change for myself and develop a life. And, you know, I'm happy I did that because six years ago, I actually, you know, met a wonderful man, although we are no longer, you know, together as partners, but we brought the most beautiful child into the world. So I got to have my dream of being a mother. And because of Baltimore I got a chance to actually perform my solo show "Fried Chicken and Latkes." And then, you know, now it's, you know, showing off Broadway.

  • 13:30:27

    PRYORSo Baltimore has been a place where I think I could really be myself and didn't have to worry about the isms of Hollywood. And so it kind of has grown under my skin and really pulled me in. And so to do -- be artistic director of this small, little theater is really a labor of love because I love theater so much.

  • 13:30:48

    NNAMDIIf you'd like to join the conversation with Rain Pryor you can call us at 800-433-8850 or send email to kojo@wamu.org. Over the course of the past decade or so, Baltimore has been developing a reputation as a great artistic community. 800-433-8850. Do you ever go to Baltimore to listen to music or take in a play? How would you compare the artistic community there to those in other cities? You can send us email to kojo@wamu.org.

  • 13:31:16

    NNAMDIYou came up in places like Beverly Hills, New York, places where artists of every stripe go to make it for themselves. But Baltimore has developed this reputation during the past ten years as a place that artists can afford, a place where artists can thrive. What do you think is the reason for that? What makes for a good artistic community?

  • 13:31:34

    PRYORYou know, I think what makes for a good artistic community is the fact that we all really support what we're doing. I mean, it's not about -- you know, it's not very competitive. It's really about the sense of community, involving the community and building as like a tribal. You know, it's very tribal. It's very grassroots and it's -- and everyone has this love for something creative. The creative spirit is there and it's like, you know, whether it's center stage with Kwame Kwei-Armah, you know, it's a collaborative effort.

  • 13:32:06

    PRYORI work with him, I have lunch with him. You know, I'm directing a show at the University of Baltimore soon, you know. And again, it's like I can go away. I have my show off Broadway, "Fried Chicken and Latkes" along with a show that I'm producing off Broadway called "Broke Wide Open." So it's like it gives me room to breathe and I think that's the thing. It's the flexibility of it all. It's that you can have this normal life and I can go to New York and have this -- you know, live out this other dream at the same time. And so people tend to be -- to gravitate to Baltimore.

  • 13:32:36

    PRYORAnd what's great about The Strand is that this year we've gotten, you know, some critical acclaim for the work that's happening there, whether it's stuff that I've directed or what other people have directed or have written. And it really cultivates the artists. And I think that's what Baltimore's about is sort of turning out these wonderful talents and then saying, go into the world and fly, you know.

  • 13:32:57

    NNAMDIClearly you found a sense of community. The Strand is in a part of the city people call Station North.

  • 13:33:03

    PRYORYes.

  • 13:33:03

    NNAMDIHow would you describe it and what about it appeals to you?

  • 13:33:06

    PRYORYou know, Station North to me represents the whole of Baltimore. You have every ethnicity, you have every economic bracket that's up and down the streets there. Artistically there's things going on all the time. You have the Charles Village -- the Charles Theater there. You have the Charles Pub there, Club Chuck, they call it. You have the -- Everyman's Theater is there. So -- and art studios, Metro Gallery, Penn Station. So you have this collide of just different tastes and different kinds of people that all emerge on this one stretch, you know. And it's beautiful.

  • 13:33:44

    PRYORIt's like that's what theater is. Theater's a representation of what's happening in the community. And so The Strand fits kind of nicely on the storefront.

  • 13:33:50

    NNAMDISo that's why I told you you've clearly found a sense of community because I read where you're on a first-name basis with virtually all of the business owners up and down there.

  • 13:33:56

    PRYORYes, yes. Yes, sir.

  • 13:33:58

    NNAMDIShe probably gets lots of freebies.

  • 13:34:00

    PRYORI wish. I'd rather pay, though. Support small business, you know.

  • 13:34:05

    NNAMDIWhen you look at the pool of talent in Baltimore, the people who come through The Strand or the people who work in other theater companies there, what do you see?

  • 13:34:12

    PRYORYou know, what I see are people who are really hungry for it and people who kind of also take the art seriously, you know. And that's what I like. There's a rawness to it. There's a rawness to someone who hasn't been so trained that they train all the essence of what's good about them out. You know, and that's part of like too the show that I'm producing off Broadway with the artists that I'm producing, you know. I watch this director work with him, Steven Bishop Seely. And to see this raw talent emerge, I love that.

  • 13:34:38

    PRYORI love when someone is raw and unspoken for and hasn't been trained in the ways of the theater and come at you like this. But they're like, here I am and I just want to do this because I love it. And, you know, that's, that's what it's--that's what it's about. That's what's there.

  • 13:34:53

    NNAMDIWe're talking with Rain Pryor. She's an actor, producer and author, now the artistic director of The Strand Theater Company in Baltimore, Md. She'll be performing her one-woman show "Fried Chicken and Latkes" tonight at the Atlas Theater here in Washington, D.C. If you have comments or questions for Rain Pryor call us at 800-433-8850. What do you think a city can offer to create a vibrant artistic community? Here is Hillary in Washington, D.C. Rain, please don your headphones. Hillary, you are on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:35:24

    HILLARYHi. Good afternoon. I'm really excited to hear about your work and I'm so glad you brought your show to D.C. I hope I can try to get to see it tonight. I wondered if you had any suggestions or guidance and advice for somebody who's looking to do the same kind of thing, both from a creative point of view and also from the production side. I mean, I'm so amazed and impressed about your being an actor and a producer and director.

  • 13:35:46

    PRYORThank you so much. Well, you know, I'm one of those, I leap. I just go and I leap and I do it with my instinct and I follow that bliss. You know, you can't -- the one thing I can tell you about producing, especially producing off Broadway. You know, you don't go into it expecting to get your money back. You go into it because you really love the theater and you love what you're doing and you pour your heart, your blood, your sweat, your tears into that product. And you feel success at the end of the day because you realized you actually followed through.

  • 13:36:16

    PRYORAnd the same thing with The Strand, you know. I do it for free because I love it so much. And so my thing is just get in there, get dirty, start wherever you want to start, whether it's a storefront or, you know, a street corner, a park. And you just do it. And you take the risk and you call people up and say, hey this is what I'd like to do. Like when I was teaching acting classes in Baltimore, I called Center Stage and said, hey I'd like to teach and they said, okay.

  • 13:36:39

    PRYORYou know, I think you just have to leap and go for it and put all -- like I said, your blood, your sweat and your tears into it and follow your truth, whatever that is, in those fields.

  • 13:36:51

    NNAMDIAnd it means you don't have to be in Los Angeles or New York to do it.

  • 13:36:53

    PRYORI'll tell you, no, you don't.

  • 13:36:55

    NNAMDIHere is Janelle in Baltimore, Md. Janelle, your turn.

  • 13:37:01

    JANELLEOh hi. Hi, Rain.

  • 13:37:02

    PRYORHello.

  • 13:37:03

    JANELLEI'm Janelle and I'm a drama teacher in Prince George's County.

  • 13:37:07

    PRYORExcellent.

  • 13:37:07

    JANELLEAnd I'm -- I actually don't live in Baltimore anymore, but I used to. I'm an old Balmore girl. You might be able to hear it in my voice.

  • 13:37:14

    PRYORBalmore, huh?

  • 13:37:15

    NNAMDIBalmore, yeah.

  • 13:37:16

    JANELLEBut I just want to say thank you for coming to Baltimore and for -- you know, for bringing the women's aspect to theater. I think it's the coolest thing in the world.

  • 13:37:24

    PRYORThank you.

  • 13:37:27

    JANELLEAnd I'm mercilessly plugging "Guys and Dolls" juniors Thursday, January the 24 (unintelligible) Performing Arts Center. Please come see my 7th and 8th grade (unintelligible) my drama majors.

  • 13:37:37

    PRYORThat's awesome.

  • 13:37:40

    JANELLEI love your work. I'm so glad you're there...

  • 13:37:42

    PRYORThank you.

  • 13:37:43

    JANELLE...performing at The Strand. I'll do it for free, I promise.

  • 13:37:45

    PRYORYou know, and that's a good tie-in because what she's talking about, even just plugging her own thing. I mean, that's why...

  • 13:37:50

    NNAMDIOh, I didn't notice that.

  • 13:37:51

    PRYORWell, right. And that's why I'm here in D.C.. I mean, actually I'm doing something for Girls, Inc., you know, and raising money for this foundation that actually supports and empowers young girls to be educated with providing after-school programs and field trips and things that will service them so that they can go to colleges and be members of, you know, our society on a higher level.

  • 13:38:13

    PRYORAnd so, you know, when I hear someone is actually teaching drama, you're lucky you're in the county and, you know, can provide that for our youth. that's what -- you know, why we, I think artists, we do what we do. It's kind of to elevate to the next level.

  • 13:38:27

    NNAMDIJanelle, thank you very much for your call and for giving me the opportunity to repeat what Rain Pryor just said, that she'll be performing "Fried Chicken and Latkes" tonight at the Atlas Theater. And that the proceeds will be going to Girls, Inc. of the Washington metro area. And she has already described the kind of work that Girls, Inc. does, some of which I am familiar with. so thank you again for your call, Janelle.

  • 13:38:48

    NNAMDIBut Janelle underscored a very important point. Women are at the core of Strand's identity. It was founded as a place to showcase female talent, both on the stage and off it. How did you end up getting involved at The Strand?

  • 13:39:01

    PRYORYou know, my friend who's a director over at the University of Baltimore, Kimberly Lynn, called me up and said, hey I just saw this post. They're looking for an artistic director at The Strand. And I didn't get the job as artistic director at Center Stage because Kwame did. And I didn't even get seen because Kwame was around. And I'll just keep saying Kwame because he's so great and wonderful and I'm such a small pea in the whole thing.

  • 13:39:22

    PRYORSo I went to The Strand and went through a series of interviews and ended up getting the job. And it was really important to me and to not only bring the artistic voice of women, whether it's on the production end or the writing end or the acting end, but as well as bringing women of color into the spectrum. Because, like I said, Station North is so diverse and really when you deal with a community you have to kind of bring in all the voices of the community. You can't leave people out.

  • 13:39:48

    PRYORAnd so my whole idea is to really build this collaborative environment for artists. And we don't exclude men so it's open to men. I mean, we opened our season with Dylan Brody, a wonderful playwright and humorist, you know, to stellar reviews of a premier of his production there. And I'm--just like I'm hoping to bring the show that I'm producing off-Broadway, "Broke Wide Open," to the Strand Theater in March, but it depends because his show is actually, I believe, going to do really well off-Broadway, so we might just be staying there. But you know...

  • 13:40:20

    NNAMDIFor awhile.

  • 13:40:20

    PRYORFor awhile. But, you know, that's the whole thing. It's like opening up experiences for people and especially for women, because we are an underserved voice in the drama area. I mean, only 45 percent of women, I think, are actually playwrights or notable playwrights, and so this is about really spreading that voice out there.

  • 13:40:39

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back we'll continue our conversation with Rain Pryor. She joins us in studio. She'll be performing her one-woman show, "Fried Chicken and Latkes," tonight at the Atlas Theater here in Washington. If you have comments or questions, 800-433-8850. Do you think women are underrepresented in the world of theater? What do you think those who work in the industry could be doing to present them with different opportunities? 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:42:47

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking with Rain Pryor. She's an actor, producer, and author. She's now the artistic director of the Strand Theater Company in Baltimore, Md. She'll be performing her one-woman show, "Fried Chicken and Latkes," tonight at the Atlas Theater here in Washington DC. As a performer and artist, what is it about theater that appeals to you? You've done television, you've done film, you've done music. Why settle, so to speak, on theater?

  • 13:43:12

    PRYORBecause theater is real, and theater is about truth, and you don't get a hundred takes or 20 takes or one take to be able to get it right. You have to get it right right there and now, and you bring everything, your heart and your soul, into each character, into each night, and it lives and breathes. It's so organic. It's like when I do my show "Fried Chicken and Latkes" off-Broadway, you know, I have one--I'll have four audiences that are laughing hysterically and into it, and then I'll have like the quietest audience, but at the end, you know, an uproariously, you know, applause.

  • 13:43:42

    PRYOROr I'll just have a quiet audience, you know. But you live and breathe in those moments, and it's like, you know, with the show "Broke Wide Open," I watch this performer every night organically, you know, take a metamorphous on the stage, and that's the thing. Theater is living and breathing, and it's constant, and it's right here, and it's right now. You have to be so present for it.

  • 13:44:03

    NNAMDIWell, the lasting imago so many people have of your father, is of him alone, upon the stage doing standup. You've done a one-woman show off-Broadway yourself. What did you learn from that experience from watching your father? About how much have you -- about how much you have to put on your shoulders as an artist, especially when you're on stage by yourself.

  • 13:44:25

    PRYORYou know, I think, you know, in doing my solo show, and learning from just my dad's process, I think, you know, you have to bring yourself to what you do. You have to be willing to go deep into things. You have to be really a self-analyst, you know. It's almost like becoming a therapist for yourself to kind of not be afraid to go to certain levels. And each night as a solo performer when you're on that--when you're on that stage, it's really about creating environments. There's a difference too.

  • 13:44:54

    PRYORI mean, many people, you know, solo shows have a weird reputation, you know, for what they do, because it's -- a lot of them can be mea culpa, mea culpa. And the thing is, you know, I'm just telling my story. I'm trying to make you laugh, and I'm trying to make you think about things. I think when you do a piece, regardless if it's with yourself or it's a whole bunch of people, it has to be transformative in some way. I think just to get up there and talk about yourself is useless.

  • 13:45:21

    PRYORI think if you do it in way that you're trying to educate someone on the fact that they can be who they are, and they can find a place that makes them feel all right, whether it's within themselves or in this theater at this moment, that's what you need, you know, (unintelligible).

  • 13:45:36

    NNAMDIWell, I'd like to talk a little bit about the place you have found, because comedians, or comics, are notoriously insecure because after all...

  • 13:45:42

    PRYORYes, they are.

  • 13:45:42

    NNAMDI...they rely on people laughing at what they do. But when you're doing a one-person performance, you just said, on the one hand you'll have an audience that applauds or laughs at every other line...

  • 13:45:52

    PRYORRight.

  • 13:45:53

    NNAMDI...on the other hand, you'll have an audience that does not do that but gives a standing ovation at the end of the performance.

  • 13:45:57

    PRYORYou hope. Sometimes they don't.

  • 13:46:00

    NNAMDIHow do you, during the course of a performance...

  • 13:46:02

    PRYORRight.

  • 13:46:02

    NNAMDI...and in your life generally, maintain your own sense of stability and security when you have to face that on stage?

  • 13:46:09

    PRYORYou know, I think you have to know who you are. I'm really comfortable. I mean, maybe it's because I, you know, I turned 43, and I have a child who's four years old, that I'm very comfortable in who I am, and I feel -- but at the same time, and I say but for a reason, at the same time, when you are -- when I do my show and the audience doesn't respond, trust me, I feel it, and I start judging myself.

  • 13:46:31

    PRYORBut then the actor in me kicks in and says, wait, just be in the moment. Don't care how they're responding, because usually at the end they are applauding, and they really -- and they come up afterwards, and like oh, my God, I really loved it. And I'll sit there and go, really, because I couldn't tell. You know?

  • 13:46:46

    NNAMDIYeah. But -- okay. We got an email from John in Takoma Park...

  • 13:46:50

    PRYORHi John.

  • 13:46:50

    NNAMDI...who says he's a fan of "Head of the Class," which you were a performer.

  • 13:46:54

    PRYORI was.

  • 13:46:55

    NNAMDIHe writes, "I'm all for Rain directing and producing, but what are her plans for her acting in the future? Please don't stop acting." Obviously, she's not...

  • 13:47:03

    PRYORWell, John, I have been, you know, I have been acting in a show off-Broadway that I wrote that got -- is the New York Times theaters pick, and has gotten rave reviews, and I'm still doing it. I'm actually performing there until February 24. We keep getting extended which is beautiful, so it's "Fried Chicken and Latkes," off-Broadway.

  • 13:47:23

    PRYORAnd, again, like you mentioned producing, I'm producing a show off-Broadway, "Broke Wide Open" at the 45th Street Theater in New York. And that's -- you should come to everything. Come up to New York and see exactly what it is that I'm doing, and all of this is opening up other opportunities for me as a performer, which I think is great. But a lot of it, you have to take control of, you know.

  • 13:47:44

    PRYORI don't fit into Hollywood. I'm not the Hollywood beauty, I'm not this, I'm not that, and so, you know, my mentor, Melvin Van Peebles said, don't wait for it to come to you, make it happen. And that's what I did. I went out and created it for myself. You know, I might not have this huge success that you see me all over TV, but I do have is longevity, John, and that's what's mainly important.

  • 13:48:04

    NNAMDII was in New York a couple of years ago and ran into Melvin Van Peebles rushing down the street with a bag in his hand, or a bag in each hand. And I said, Melvin, where are you going, why are you rushing? He said, I go to the grocery store too, you know. That was like it. We're talking with Rain Prior. She's an actor, producer, and author. She's now the artistic director of the Strand Theater Company in Baltimore, Md., and taking your calls at 800-433-8850. We move onto Jana in Washington, DC. Jana, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:48:36

    JANAHi Kojo.

  • 13:48:37

    NNAMDIHi Jana.

  • 13:48:38

    JANAI'm a big fan of the show. I just wanted to thank Ms. Pryor for bringing her talent and her vision and everything to the Baltimore area. I'm an actress in the area. I work in Baltimore, and I love it, and I just wanted to know from her if she felt like the name recognition that she has, has it been a help or a hindrance in her long career?

  • 13:48:59

    PRYORWell, I'll tell you that I think that name recognition, in terms of Baltimore and small theater, I think it's been very helpful. I mean, it gets people interested. It gets them in the door, and that's the whole thing of raising the profile of the community. I always joke about it. I'm like go ahead, pimp my name if it's gonna help to make some good, you know.

  • 13:49:18

    PRYORI think where it's a hindrance is when you're really trying to forge your own way as an artist, and a creative person. As a performer, for me to go in and do "Fried Chicken and Latkes" and have people expect to see Richard Pryor, and I'm really stretching to do -- to have my own voice, but yet he is a part of who I am, and in my DNA, so on that it's just a balancing act for all of it.

  • 13:49:43

    NNAMDIJana, thank you very much for your call.

  • 13:49:44

    PRYORThank you so much.

  • 13:49:45

    NNAMDIAnd how do you translate being a performer to your work at the Strand? It's my understanding that you've got a pretty strong DIY attitude there. You've been even seen scrubbing the bathroom floors.

  • 13:49:56

    PRYORYes.

  • 13:49:57

    NNAMDIYou'd rather do a lot of this stuff yourself, huh?

  • 13:49:58

    PRYORYou do. You know, look. The woman who ran it before me, Jayme Kilburn, she, you know, she was all hands in on all different levels, you know. I'm putting my hands in where I know I can actually fit them. You know, I can mop floors, I can paint stages, I can paint walls, I can clean the bathrooms. I can make sure things are good. But at the same time, I'm also a performer that has a, you know, my show in New York.

  • 13:50:21

    PRYORI have my show tonight here in DC, so I'm running back and forth, and -- but theater is about that. You know, you'll see me even for the show that I'm producing, I run box office for that show, I'm cleaning up the bathrooms, I'm bringing my actor water, you know, I'm doing it all because that's what theater is.

  • 13:50:38

    PRYORIt really gives you a sense of community. It really gives you a sense of like I belong here. And you don't have to sell drugs, and you don't have to carry a gun, and it's beautiful, unless it's fake and it's a prop gun.

  • 13:50:48

    NNAMDIWell, where do you get all the energy is what I'd like to know.

  • 13:50:50

    PRYORI have a four year old. She keeps my busy, yeah.

  • 13:50:52

    NNAMDIOh, this is true. That helps.

  • 13:50:53

    PRYORYeah.

  • 13:50:53

    NNAMDIHere is Terry in Washington, DC. Hi, Terry.

  • 13:50:57

    TERRYHi Kojo. Thanks so much. And hi Rain.

  • 13:50:59

    PRYORHi.

  • 13:51:01

    TERRYThis is such a miracle. I was just driving home from the chiropractor and happened to be listening, so I'm coming to your show tonight.

  • 13:51:06

    PRYORYay.

  • 13:51:07

    TERRYWhat time is it, by the way? You guys didn't say.

  • 13:51:09

    PRYORWe're starting at six o'clock, and the show, I believe, is probably around eight o'clock, but the event starts at six o'clock.

  • 13:51:15

    TERRYOkay, great.

  • 13:51:16

    PRYORYes.

  • 13:51:16

    TERRYWell, I just wanted to thank you for your inspiration. I'm 67 years old.

  • 13:51:19

    PRYORBeautiful.

  • 13:51:19

    TERRYI've been acting on and off, and now I'm absolutely committed to doing my work as acting. I'm up for a show at the (word?) Museum, a solo performance.

  • 13:51:32

    PRYORExcellent.

  • 13:51:33

    TERRYI got called back, and...

  • 13:51:34

    PRYORYay.

  • 13:51:34

    TERRY...I'm looking -- yes, I know.

  • 13:51:36

    NNAMDIThe callback.

  • 13:51:37

    TERRYI got called back for a second audition, and I have to wait two weeks to find out. But you're inspiring me, the way that you talk about giving your life to it, because I don't want to be 90 years old saying, well, at least I had health insurance.

  • 13:51:52

    PRYORRight.

  • 13:51:52

    TERRYBut on the other hand, I do need to pay my bills. So I wanted you to talk just a little bit about that for people, you know, who, I mean...

  • 13:52:00

    PRYORPerfect.

  • 13:52:01

    TERRYYeah. Just talk about that.

  • 13:52:02

    PRYORWell, I, you know, I will tell you something. I'm one of those, like I said, I take a leap of faith, you know. I have -- I had this life that I created in Baltimore, not only a literal life, but, you know, I have -- I had a marriage and I had all these things, and the truth is, you know, I had to follow my bliss, and my bliss is I'm a performer. I'm an artist through and through.

  • 13:52:19

    PRYORI was born into this. It didn't -- I didn't choose it. It chose me. And if I don't do it -- being artistic and doing theater is my breath. It's the air that I breathe, and if I don't do it, I feel like I implode. And so I had to take a big leap of faith and get out there and do my show in New York and produce this other show against all the odds, and against balancing family, against the fact that, you know, I could have probably had a secure job teaching somewhere, but that's not in my heart or my soul.

  • 13:52:45

    PRYORAnd what I've realized from this experience is the more that I follow my bliss, the money comes, I am provided for, you know, my daughter is happier seeing me do what I am doing because then she realizes she can do it too. I think her father's happy because he doesn't have to live with an actress anymore, and he can just be a wonderful, beautiful police officer in Baltimore, you know, and have that simple life, and that's okay, you know.

  • 13:53:08

    PRYORBut you have to take a risk in life, and you have to be willing jump and trust that the universe always provides. I know that sounds very esoteric, but I know when you follow your bliss, sooner or later the universe provides, and at a great age of 67, you better go for it.

  • 13:53:22

    TERRYOkay. Well, I want to come and volunteer at your theater. I want to figure out a way to do that.

  • 13:53:26

    PRYORWonderful, thank you.

  • 13:53:27

    NNAMDITerry, thank you for your call and good luck to you. You mentioned, and you directed the season opener at the Strand, a play called "Mother May I," by Dylan Brody. Why did you choose that particular play?

  • 13:53:36

    PRYORYou know, actually, when Dylan heard -- Dylan's a really great friend of mine from Los Angeles, and when he heard that I became artistic director, he sent me the play and said, I want you to do it. And I kind of freaked out, because I'm like, you haven't seen me as a director yet. Are you sure? And he said, I trust you, I really trust you. And so I read the play. I talked with him about it.

  • 13:53:53

    PRYORHe said you really get it, you see it. And so that was it. I was like, all right. Let's do it. And I put together this season, and, you know, again, I do everything from my gut and what I believe will feel right and be a great representation in the community, and so it worked out.

  • 13:54:09

    NNAMDIGot great reviews. A 55-seat theater. You got all the site lines according to the reviews.

  • 13:54:13

    PRYORRight. Right. Some I didn't and that's okay, you know.

  • 13:54:16

    NNAMDISo you're clearly happy with the result. How important are reviews to you?

  • 13:54:19

    PRYORYou know, I think -- it's two things. I think reviews are good, but if you believe the good ones, you have to kind of look at the bad ones, and go, maybe they're telling some truth to, you know. I think really where reviews actually really matter, and it shouldn't is really off-Broadway and Broadway, you know. And the reason they matter is because people are looking at them to see whether or not they want to go to the show, and the reviewers have all the power.

  • 13:54:43

    PRYORSo they'll decide whether, you know, the liked the show or not. I mean, luckily for me, the New York Times loved my show, you know. But let's say another theater magazine panned my show, and, you know, then the Washington Post loved my show, so who knows? You never know what you're going to get, and I think, you know, you have to kind of take it with a grain of salt. It is what it is, everyone has a job. Everyone has an opinion, you know. If we watch the recent elections, everyone had an opinion.

  • 13:55:07

    NNAMDIYeah.

  • 13:55:07

    PRYORYou know, and Obama still won. So I feel like Obama right now. I'm still winning.

  • 13:55:12

    NNAMDIWell, your other play, "Colorism" is premiering at the Strand in April. What is "Colorism" about and what hopes do you have for how audiences will see it?

  • 13:55:19

    PRYORYou know, "Colorism" is about dealing with the race issue within the African-American community, and how we look at each other in terms of, you know, we were raised on a post-slavery mentality that the lighter skin is better, and this really addresses light skin and dark skin and medium skin on a really true-blue level.

  • 13:55:35

    PRYORAnd it's also what I'm using as a jumping off point for my non-profit that I started called Baltimore Theater Works, Where we go into the schools and we educate inner city kids on theater and bringing pieces to them that are socially relevant to who they are so they can work on their stuff, you know. And I think "Colorism" really adds to that. Again, it also adds to the flavor of Baltimore.

  • 13:55:58

    PRYORYou walk around and there's all different hues of black, you know. And I think we have to kind of -- once we as a community, and I mean the African-American community, can address this taboo subject and walk through it, uncover, discard, we get to move on in our lives.

  • 13:56:12

    NNAMDIWe had a conversation on "Colorism" on this broadcast just a few weeks ago. You can find it in our archives. What else excites you about the upcoming season at the Strand this year?

  • 13:56:20

    PRYORYou know what excites me is that we're doing great, and that, you know, next coming up is Deletta Gillespie and her show "What a Girl Wants." You know, I'm really excited about everything that's happening at my theater, and happy that I can lend my name to it, and that little theater will survive.

  • 13:56:38

    NNAMDIWe got an email from Phil in Silver Spring, or...

  • 13:56:41

    PRYORHi, Phil.

  • 13:56:42

    NNAMDI...who asks if you're familiar with the Creative Alliance at Patterson Theater in Baltimore...

  • 13:56:45

    PRYOROf course.

  • 13:56:47

    NNAMDI...which presents an ongoing display of local artists.

  • 13:56:50

    PRYORYes, they do. And Creative Alliance, again, I talk with them as well, and they're wonderful and very supportive, and they present great works, and I've performed at Creative Alliance. So it's -- we have some great stuff going on.

  • 13:57:00

    NNAMDIIt's all a part of the community that Rain Pryor is a part of, and she's excited about the upcoming season at the Strand.

  • 13:57:08

    PRYORYes, sir.

  • 13:57:09

    NNAMDISee my producer is asking if I was reviewed when I was in "The Nutcracker." I had a walk-on role, and I was terrible. I'm glad they didn't review it. Rain Pryor, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 13:57:17

    PRYORThank you for having me. I appreciate it.

  • 13:57:19

    NNAMDIRain Pryor is an actor, producer, and author. She's now the artistic director of the Strand Theater Company in Baltimore, Md. And in case you didn't hear it before, she will be performing her one-woman show, "Fried Chicken and Latkes," tonight at the Atlas Theater in Washington DC starting at six o'clock.

  • 13:57:34

    PRYORYes, sir.

  • 13:57:35

    NNAMDIStarting at six o'clock. Thank you all for listening. "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" is produced by Brendan Sweeney, Michael Martinez, Ingalisa Schrobsdorff, Tayla Burney, Kathy Goldgeier, and Elizabeth Weinstein, with help from Stephannie Stokes, Jessica Guzman, and Ryan Mixon. The engineer today is Tobey Schreiner. Natalie Yuravlivker is on the phones. Podcasts of all shows, audio archives, CDs and free transcripts are available at our website, kojoshow.org. If you'd like to share questions or comments with us, you can email us at kojo@wamu.org, join us on Facebook, or send a tweet @kojoshow. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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