Literature in Motion, local performing arts company, will make its mark this summer.
With Cracks in Her Foundation’s premiere on July 14th, the Maumee Indoor Theater will host two debuts: the stage debut of work by local author Shani Mixon and the flagship production for Literature in Motion, a nascent theater and film production company based in Toledo. Cast entirely from Toledo-drawn talent, Cracks presents a relatable story about a woman experiencing a crisis of faith, family, and her struggles to stay upright in a world of venal opportunities. The flagship performance also introduces audiences to what could prove an important artistic enterprise for the city, a group committed to sourcing works from local authors and providing exposure and experience for Toledo’s performing arts community.
Humbling the mighty
With Cassandra Hogue, Keith Hook, and Sasha Claybourne, Cracks uses the classic dramatic structure of tragedy to humble the mighty and occasion their fall from a place of status and grace. Mia Johnson bears the outward markings of success: she’s in a happy marriage with her husband Edward, a pastor, enjoys a comfortable life and the admiration of her community. But when an unforeseen event roils her life and shatters her moral foundation, she reconnects with Corey, a handsome former friend who is “rightfully powerful in all the wrong ways.” She proceeds down a pit of despair resentment, criminality, and eventually the possibility of revelation, repentance, and return.
Cracks in Her Foundation was adapted from Shani Mixon’s self-published novel of the same name, the first entry of a planned trilogy in her “Forgiveness Series” (for a hint of what might require forgiving, book two is called Steal, Kill, Destroy). Mixon moved to Toledo from Indianapolis four years ago and with her husband co-founded Toledo’s Wake Up and Worship Ministries. Mixon was introduced through a mutual friend to Raquel Flanigan, a founding member of Literature in Motion, who agreed to read the novel.
“Immediately when I read the book something just felt right,” says Flanigan, who developed the stage adaptation with Stage Director Pasha Carter and Liam Ellis, both also LIM founders.
Friendly collaboration between local artists seems the model for future projects, and influenced the casting process. “Several productions I’ve worked with in the past have drawn a lot of the cast from Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati,” says Flanigan. “But in my experience, I realized there’s a lot of talented people right here in Toledo. When I was reading through the characters, I already had people in mind. We still had open auditions, but, luckily, all the people I had in mind showed up.” The performance features live musical accompaniment from Wall Music and Flanigan proclaimed her cast’s “national-level” vocal talent.
Receiving the message…in a different way
Literature in Motion’s aim is to produce films and plays. They’re open to works less directly tied to faith than Cracks, but Flanigan detects common inspirational themes and concerns for the underdog in the works they seek, along with an ability to marry a message with their artistic passions.
Mixon hopes her play inspires. “I want them to feel like: Wow, I’ve really been ministered to using the dramatic arts and music. Like they’ve received a message about God’s forgiveness, but not in preachy way, but in a different way: through music, through acting.”
What’s art if you can’t see it?
Literature in Motion will celebrate one year of operation this July. Currently thirty members-strong, they are working on creating a board and establishing a non-profit funding infrastructure for future projects. An actor herself, Flanigan knows from experience how talent eager for stage time can be put in vulnerable situations by for-profit companies. She wants LIM to be a local powerhouse supportive of Toledo artists and a proving ground for performers bound elsewhere to sharpen their skills. LIM’s motto is “What’s Art if You Can’t See it?” and it acknowledges the truth that artists have to get out there and collaborate to get the ideas on their laptops and in their heads onto pages and screens.
LIM’s next project is a stage adaptation of the 2016 independent film “Not Another Black Movie”, which they hope to perform in the summer of 2019. But after that, it’s time for someone creative out there to reach out and get something in motion.
3pm & 8pm | Saturday, July 14