Luther Cox never intended to become a dance teacher. As an accounting student at Florida A&M University, he literally wandered into a West African dance class in progress and the course of his life was changed forever. Cox went on to found the Inter City Row Modern Dance Company in Shreveport’s Cooper Road community in 1981. Inter City Row is now the oldest operating African American dance company in Louisiana.
Cox’s story gets us thinking about careers: How is it that some people accidentally wind up, through indirect routes, in roles that they were clearly born to fill? What are the chances?
Checking In With All Y’all The 2017 season of All Y’all live events has ended, and we’re planning to release several podcast episodes during the upcoming holidays. We’re also beginning to plan the 2018 season of live storytelling events, and are looking forward to re-imagining some aspects of the show. We hope to see you at a live event – with some surprises in store – in the Spring of 2018.
Thank You, Sponsors
The 2017 season of All Y’all live events and podcasts was made possible by our title sponsor, Holiday Lanes. The All Y’all podcast is also sponsored by Williams Creative Group and Maccentric. Without the support of these sponsors, All Y’all live events and podcasts would be extremely difficult for us to pull off.
The fourth All Y’all Live storytelling event, “Ladies Night,” will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 14 at the beautiful and historic Women’s Department Club theater. The Women’s Department Club is located at 802 Margaret Place in Shreveport. March is Women’s History Month in the United States, and all stories told during this installment of All Y’all Live will be told by or about women. Tickets are $10 each and advance ticket purchase is recommended. The program is expected to run two hours and a brief intermission is scheduled.
Parking is located across the street on Margaret Place or at the nearby Spine Institute on Line Avenue.
The evening will feature true stories, told live and without notes, from the lives and adventures of unforgettable women. Please note that, due to the intensely personal nature of the evening, some strong language and adult references may be used.
What if you met a beautiful person at a party, swept them off of their feet and the two of you eloped to a remote city in Mexico with 121 churches and wild packs of chihuahuas roaming the streets? “New ‘Round Here” storyteller Limbert Fabian and his wife Marta ran away to Mexico to get married, climb pyramids and eat “yogurth.” The story of Limbert and Marta’s romance is one of those “What if?” scenarios: what if Marta hadn’t gone to that party? What if she’d lost Limbert’s (many) card(s), and hadn’t called the next day? What if that giant volcano in Cholula had erupted while Baz Luhrrman’s art director was taking Limbert and Marta’s wedding photos?
Even as we enter the final stages of preparing for our third live event, “Under the Influence,” Sara and I are beginning to dabble with ideas for our fourth event (I know, it’s awful, we can’t help ourselves!). That event, “Brush with Fame,” will likely take place in early 2015. The seed that grew into the idea for “Brush with Fame” was the conversation that makes up this special episode of the All Y’all podcast, in which Shreveport-based PR and marketing expert Judy Williams (president of Williams Creative Group) shares her story of working, at age 26, with legendary filmmaker, actor, playwright and multimedia prankster Orson Welles (writer/director of Citizen Kane and Touch of Evil, among other staggering cinematic works of genius, and creator of the notorious 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds).
At age 26, I was drinking White Russians in the morning, playing Dr. Mario with my stoner roommates and rapping in a pirate-themed hip-hop group called the Pillage People. Judy was writing dialogue for Orson Welles. And not just any dialogue. Dialogue that would lead Orson freaking Welles to raise his hand, bringing the production to a screeching halt, to call out in his judge’s baritone: “Who wrote this dialogue? It’s great!”
Judy met Orson Welles at a time in his life when his career was, unarguably, at a low point. He was starring in television commercials for frozen peas and drug store wine. But one of the things that I love about this story is that, as Judy tells it, Welles saw a return to brilliance in his future. He was planning a comeback. He had not accepted defeat. And I think that’s what makes a great person great: they’re always planning the comeback, even when they’re starring in the frozen peas commercial.
Sara wants to apologize in advance for the quality of the audio in this recording. It was before we understood our recording setup and you can obviously hear the air conditioner kick on in the background.
Bruce Allen is a professor of art at Centenary College of Louisiana (where, by the way, both All Y’all organizers, Chris and Sara, received Bachelor of the Arts degrees). He grew up in Shreveport, where he graduated from Centenary and worked as a traveling wholesale drug salesman while waiting to enter graduate school. As a salesman, he’d drive to places with poetic names like Paris, Texas and Stuttgart, Arkansas, offering pharmacies exclusive discounts on drug products sold by Morris and Dickson, his employers.
On the surface, his story is a simple tale of a professional blunder that could have cost his employers a great deal of money. But, on another level, the story is a tragic warning. He sees a brief, horrifying glimpse of the human wreckage left behind when a salesman’s usefulness dries up, and he must decide for himself whether that path is right for him. In Bruce’s voice – which trembles once or twice, at telling moments – we heard horror, pathos, empathy and conviction. I did not hear any regret. Do you?
A few of the people making “Under the Influence” possible are: our seven fearless storytellers; Alan Berry, Don Hooper and the staff of Marjorie Lyons Playhouse; Andrew Parsons of Lagniappe Foods of Shreveport; and volunteers John and Nicole Durbin.
Jon Mackey is a naturally charismatic guy. Whenever I cross paths with Jon, he’s either returning from some thrilling adventure or planning his next personal or professional move. The world just seems like a more interesting place when he’s around. So, when we were organizing the first All Y’all live storytelling event, “New ‘Round Here,” Sara and I knew that we had to ask Jon to contribute a story. He came through in grand form with this hilarious, occasionally unsettling tale of life as a server at a Chinese buffet called Cheng’s Garden and what may be the most uncomfortable job interview of all time.
“When I asked Jon if he had a story, he came into my office and re-enacted the job interview,” Sara told me, just now. And what a job interview it was.
As this post goes live, we are in the early planning stages of our third live event, “Under the Influence.” We expect this night of storytelling – which will feature tales of substance use and abuse, recovery, influence, powerlessness and control regained – to take place in September 2014. All proceeds from this event will be donated to the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse of Northwestern Louisiana. We’ll post more details of the event as soon as we have them.