“Port Chicago 50”

Dare to remember………

After successful Off-Broadway run, “Port Chicago 50” returns to the west coast for encore performances.

It’s July 17th in Port Chicago, California, a cool summer Friday night at a munitions naval base 30 miles north of San Francisco. The year is 1944 and World War II is in full swing. Segregation in the United States is prevalent and African American sailors are being pushed by their commanders to load tons of dangerous missiles and explosives onto two large munition ships. Not one of these men has been properly trained to handle munitions, yet they are given orders and expected to load huge amounts of the highly dangerous cargo as quickly as possible. At approximately 10:17pm, something went terribly wrong. Explosion after explosion! So fierce, it shook the ground with the force of an earthquake, knocking out windows and shaking buildings as far east as Boulder City, Nevada. What happened next is even more mind-boggling than the explosion itself. Reading the newspaper reports, you are now treading in waters filled with chaos, anger, blame, finger pointing, and more importantly, guilt. None of these officers in the higher ranks were willing to take the responsibility for this tragedy. What happened that cool summer night? How did it happen? Why? Meet the sailors before, during and after that fated night. The dramatic story is told through the eyes of one of the survivors, Freddie Meeks. Come and witness this powerful presentation of “Port Chicago 50.” We dare you!

Port Chicago 50 is a story of love for country, the American Dream and a quest for equality and fairness.

“You, your company of actors and designers did an excellent job! It’s the next ‘Soldier Story.’” – Woody King, Jr. Broadway Producer

“The show was riveting!!” – Andrew Clarke, NY Braata Productions

“This play is a tribute to what these men endured.” – Linda Armstrong, NY Amsterdam News

“Port Chicago 50 is well written and well played.” – Berkeley Times

Port Chicago is a must see for everyone! Not only will it be a time of historical enlightenment but also a special time of entertainment.

The powerful story is co-written by David Shackelford and Dennis Rowe, and directed by Dennis Rowe. Led by JD Hall, from “Star Trek: Enterprise” (2/21 & 2/22 shows), the show features a powerful group of performers: Oren Williams, David Shackelford, Darrell Philip, Howard Lockie, CJ Dickinson, Izzy Dixon, Patrick Gathron, Cameron Ley, Nick Allen, Azeem Vecchio, Alex Mingo, Theodore Martinez and Lyndsey Watkins.

WHEN:

Friday February 21st, 2020 at 8PM
Saturday February 22, 2020 at 3PM & 8PM
Sunday, February 23 at 4PM

WHERE:

Morgan-Wixson Theatre
2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica

TICKETS>>

Early Bird discount general seating tickets are $30.00 until February 15th and $35.00 afterward. Tickets can be purchased on-line through Eventbrite at www.portchicago50.eventbrite.com. There are group rates available. For additional information, please call (866) 514-7250.

“Port Chicago 50” uses some strong language. The production is produced by Dennis Rowe Entertainment from Los Angeles, California.

  

We chatted with co-writer and producer Dennis Rowe who hails from North Hollywood.

“I have lived in the NoHo area for 26 years, and I’ve been a member of First Baptist Church NH for 25 years,” says Dennis Rowe.  “I have produced shows in the Whitmore Lindley Theater and El Portal Theatre. At First Baptist Church NoHo I am head of the drama ministry and have spearheaded over eight plays.”

What’s the Drama Ministry at First Baptist Church NoHo?

It’s a ministry at the church that does ministry through the visual and performing arts; film and on stage.  Under the ministry, over 20 years we’ve  produced a number of plays: “Kidnapped Christmas,” “The Reason For The Season,” “Grace and Mercy,” “A Presence In Hansen City,” to name a few.  Two years ago we did the short film “Pick Up” which was based on the conversation in a share drive car.  was also a member of the North Hollywood Community Alliance for two years.

How did you find this historical tragedy at Port Chicago, which is not well known?

Being inquisitive. In a church secretary’s office I came across a brochure about past dinners honoring some of the survivors, started reading it and was amazed about the story which I had never heard about. So David Shackelford (co-writer) and I decided to do a weekend of shows to honor the sailors. The demand to see the show has kept the show running for four years.

How did you find the survivor, Mrs. Freddie Meeks?

Mr. Freddie Meeks had passed away when I heard about the story, but his son Daryl Meeks is alive and I. spoke to him.

What do you want your audience to come away with?

A knowledge of this unbelievable story of sailors who put their lives on the line during WWII. We honor their stories of wanting a better life in America, and to live The American Dream.

What has been your greatest achievement in theatre?

Presenting historical and forgotten stories to the public. Presenting and creating opportunities for craftsmen and craftswomen on stage and behind the scenes.

Tell us about other shows you have produced/written?

I am blessed to have created eight shows (including “Port Chicago 50”): “Don’t Mess With God…He’ll Wash Your Feet,”- a gospel musical,” “Philly,” – a musical inspired by true events from 1985 when the city of Philadelphia dropped a bomb on its citizens- “Shades,” – a musical about the fashion industry- “Toy World,” – a fantasy where toys live, “Forest ,” – a children’s musical where a child gets lost in the forest which comes come alive to save her, “Family Heirloom.,” – a play about a family’s secret kept for many generations that finally comes out-  “Love In All The Wrong Faces,” – a musical about a woman seeking love.

Did any of the families see the show “Port Chicago 50?”

Yes, several off-springs saw it. Most didn’t know their fathers were involved in Port Chicago until later in life, as the fathers rarely talked about that period in their lives. So many didn’t know what their fathers actually did in Port Chicago until they saw the play. One gentleman who saw the play was born on the night of the blast. His father was killed in the blast and he never met his father so the play gave insight into what his father did.

Have you traveled with the show?

Yes. We were blessed to perform in the area where the blast happened: Pittsburg, CA, & Berkeley, CA, as well as Atlanta, Off-Broadway in New York. We are happy to be in Los Angeles before we perform a run in Chicago, IL in May. 

Tickets to “Port Chicago 50″>>

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Lisa Bianconi
Author: Lisa Bianconi

Editor of www.nohoartsdistrict.com