Pin Points Theatre: More Than Just a Theater Company.
A month after the second consecutive murder of an Anacostia High School student, the performers in Pin Points Theatre bused Anacostia High School students to Ketcham Elementary School for an exercise in community service. Thanks to a kind grant from the Corporation for National & Community Service, Pin Points Theatre was awarded the task of teaching a group of hard-edged teenagers the value of community service.
To help them understand the dual benefits of service, each high schooler was assigned a book to read to a designated class at Ketcham. The transition was amazing. The blank, sometimes disinterested, teenager expressions changed to smiles and giggles as they read, played and talked with the children. We then gave the teenagers a well-deserved reward by feeding them at a restaurant where the concepts of service were further discussed and the dining thoroughly enjoyed.
The above event is an example of the many changes Pin Points has experienced since its beginnings as a writers' workshop called "Pen Points" in 1978. It was then a training ground for a plethora of writers who became quite successful: Joy Jones, ("Teacher Meditations" and president of Spoken Word), Jonetta Barras ("Daddy's Little Girl," columnist for the Washington Post and popular talk show host), Ersky Freeman ("Why Doctors Don't Guarantee Their Work" along with numerous nationally touring plays) - to name a few.
Pen Points writers' workshop evolved into Pin Points Theatre in 1980. It can be best described as a community theater company that travels internationally; creating its plays and workshops in impoverished D.C. communities then presenting them to schools, businesses, government agencies and theaters throughout D.C., the United States, and so far, in Asia (Guam, Korea, Japan, and Singapore), Canada, and Germany.
Productions include: 1,001 Black Inventions featuring the vast intellectual accomplishments of African Americans and then traveling into "The Twilight Zone," a world where all inventions by Africans and African Americans disappear; KIAMSHA, performed by youth, ages 12-18, a musical/drama/workshop teaching abstinence from sex, drugs and violence; THE MEETING, a fictitious confrontation between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and winner of eight NAACP Theater Awards; and HOOKED ON LOVE, a romantic comedy that addresses the science of productive male-female relationships.
The newest project is called ANOTHER WAY, teaching alternative routes of financial success for performing artists. Over the past two decades, there have been several hundred performers who have left Pin Points to advance their careers by seeking artistic opportunities in New York and California. The vast majority of these performing artists were overwhelmed by the stress of moral dilemmas and living expenses. So they gave up the pursuit of their artistic dreams.
ANOTHER WAY addresses these problems by showing performing artists alternative means of making a living with their talents. Examples are one-person shows, touring their own companies, proposal writing to fund their dreams, performing for non-mainstream audiences at schools & government agencies, and/or establishing their own nonprofit corporations.
Pin Points Theatre has success stories like Martin Lawrence of MARTIN, Wendy Robinson of the STEVE HARVEY SHOW and Davika Parikh of WEST WING who have made it in mainstream entertainment. But we are most proud of the resources and motivation we have provided for "lesser-knowns," ex-members who are earning lucrative salaries working in alternative markets: Jim Lucas tours nationally with a one-man show. Rico Hill from one of the worst neighborhoods in DC became an executive producer at Nickelodeon and is now Vice President of the Cartoon Network. Shirleta Settles is an "unknown" who is paid well singing at private clubs throughout the country. And Thandor Miller, Lennie Smith, and MoriEl Randolph are the Executive Directors of their own nonprofit youth empowerment organizations.
These success stories strongly motivate Pin Points Theatre to hold on to its credo to serve our community as a teaching tool, as an artistic outlet, as a provider of viable employment, as a loving haven for troubled hearts, and most definitely, as more than just a theater company.