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Your source of information for where to go and what to do each weekend in the Greater Memphis area.

Memphis Grizzles vs. Atlanta Hawks

FedExForum | 7:00 p.m.

University of Memphis Tigers Football vs. University of Houston

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium | 6:00 p.m.

The Epitome of Soul Awards Honoring Stevie Wonder

The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts | 8:00 P.M.

‘Black Soap’ set to stage season ender

The 2014 season of Flo Roach’s “BLACK SOAP,” Memphis’ own black soap opera, has given audiences an up close and personal look at the hijinks of the family and friends of millionaire patriarch Marvin Chambers, who introduced his new fiancée, threatened to change his will, and was hospitalized after being found unconscious the next morning.

Marvin, it has been revealed, is seriously allergic to shrimp.  Now his new fiancée – a former stripper – is about to make a life-changing confession to his son, M.J., with whom she shared one night of booze and passion some 15 years ago. 

Is this a case of chickens coming home to roost?  And who poisoned Marvin?  The answers will be revealed in “BLACK SOAP VI,” the concluding episode in this season’s three-part storyline.  

Written, produced and directed by Florence (Flo) Roach, “Black Soap VI” stars Ben Greene (Marvin Chambers Sr.), Carolyn Kent (Renee), Lonnie Coleman (M.J.), Laverne Bobo (Aunt Trudy), Rick Bobo (Richard), Nadine Burton (Pastor Hopson), Patrice Campbell (Tina), Brenda Deener (The Maid), Kenneth Farmer (Mason), Derek Hunter (Anthony the Butler), Mose Yvonne Nicholson (Pam), Sandra Bray (Detective Anderson), Aundra M. Segrest (Detective Lancaster), Wanda Shaw (Ms. Frankie) and others.  Courtney Franklin is music director.

“Black Soap VI” will be on stage Oct. 17-19th at the Buckman Performing and Fine Arts Center at St. Mary's Episcopal School, 60 Perkins Extended (38117).  Show times are 7 p.m. on Oct. 17-18th and 3 p.m. on Oct. 19th.

Tickets for the stage production, which is presented by Ettaro Theater Company and Ettaro Fine Arts Foundation, are: Advance, $20 for general admission; $35 for VIP reserved seating. Tickets purchased at the door are $25 general admission and $40 VIP.  VIP tickets are only available for the opening night performance and the ticket price includes both the show and a reception with food and drinks. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 17th. 

Tickets also are available online at www.floroach.com.  For more information, call 901-331-3515.

(The two previous episodes in the 2014 storyline can be viewed online at www.blacksoapopera.com.)

‘Take one’ Weekend beckons filmmakers and creative types

Local filmmakers and creative types have been extended an Oct. 10-12th invitation to hook up for a “crazy, challenging, and exciting weekend of non-stop filmmaking” dubbed “Take One.”

The event will be FuelFilm’s latest iteration of its “48Hr Film Launch” and reflects a partnership with MEMFIX: EDGE – a one-day, community-driven effort to imagine an invigorated Edge District, roughly defined as the area within a quarter-mile radius of the Marshall Avenue/Monroe Avenue intersection.

MEMFix events have been used throughout Memphis to temporarily activate streets, blocks, and neighborhoods. The goal is “creating vibrancy and demonstrating new possibilities for our communities”

FuelFilm’s Matt Bieckert and David Merrill said via a news release that novices and experienced filmmakers and actors will have the opportunity of collaborating on one of five film projects, using equipment and locations provided by FuelFilm.

“We’re really excited about our partnership with MEMFix: Edge because the Edge District is such a vibrant community with so many incredible stories. Stories we’d love to see on film! That’s why we’re encouraging participants to keep their concepts Edge-local,” said Bieckert and Merrill.

Those needing inspiration can visit Kudzu (603 Monroe) every Monday night at 5:45 p.m. until “Take One” Weekend to hear historians and history buffs share some of their tales about Edge district.

Because the Edge District is historically known as a place where things are made – music, beer, guitars, art, food – the MEMFix celebration is designed to promote that same spirit. Livable Memphis and its various community partners are working with local businesses, residents and other stakeholders in the Edge to develop temporary re-designs of Marshall Avenue and activation of various vacant storefronts. All the while there will be presentations of live music, mobile food and retail, and other programs and activities representing the potential of the area to visitors from Memphis and beyond.

MEMFix: Edge will take place on Saturday, Oct. 18th from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. To sign up, visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/take-one-weekend-filming-in-the-edge-tickets-10165859359?aff=estw.

Pastor’s public speaking skills lead to international acclaim

Special to The New Tri-State Defender

“I tried to keep my cool as they were preparing to announce the winner of the semifinals, but when I heard my name, I must have jumped toward the ceiling twice before I regained my composure and walked to the stage,” said the Rev. Eric Ovid Donaldson, pastor of Unity Christian Church, reflecting on his trip to Malaysia to compete for the World Championship of Public Speaking.

Donaldson was one of only nine finalists in the competition representing nearly 300,000 members in more than 120 countries. More than 30,000 contestants competed around the world, and less than 100 advanced to the international competition.

“You could say this is the “American Idol” of public speaking, but it’s far more international in its reach,” Donaldson said.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., the organization’s membership exceeds 292,000 in more than 14,350 clubs in 122 countries.

Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. Donaldson is a part of the Unity Toastmasters Club, which holds its meetings weekly at the church.

“The funny thing about all of this is that I am the shy, quiet, gentle soul of my family,” he said. “Up to the age of 45, I would open my mouth and people would say, ‘Speak up, we can’t hear you.’ That’s why I keep asking the question, ‘How did I become the preacher? How did I become one of the top speakers in the world?’ Then I realized that I was asking the wrong question; not how, but why?”

Donaldson always looks for the opportunities his success brings. While others might look at his newfound notoriety as an opportunity to launch a public speaking and coaching career, he is developing further plans.

“I look forward to getting my message of healing and hope to the world, no doubt! I am dedicated to the discovery, development and perfect unfolding of our divine purpose and potential. I want to see everyone do well, but I also want to encourage everyone to do good in the world”

That became evident as Donaldson and one of his ministerial colleagues, the Rev. Kevin Ross, senior minister of Unity of Sacramento, collected “A Trunk Full of Love,” cards, letters of prayers, and condolences that they took with them to offer to families and friends of those bereaved by the two ill-fated Malaysia Airline flights MH370 and MH17.

Following Spirit, they had no idea who to give the cards to other than drop them off at the ticket counter at the airport, which was closed upon their early morning arrival into the country. However, on the way to the hotel, they discovered that the Malaysian government declared a National Day of Mourning on the day some of the remains from MH17 would be returned.

Donaldson and his colleagues returned to the airport that day and stood for 3 hours with the mourners – pilots, flight attendants, ticket agents, grounds crews and others – as ambulances carrying the bodies passed in procession.

After introducing themselves, Ross and Donaldson passed out all the cards that were collected from their churches and friends to those in attendance. The people were extremely appreciative of the gesture. The intention was not meant as a religious act, as much as a gesture of global friendship and compassion.

“Winning my semifinal round and finding myself in the finals of Toastmasters International's World Championship of Public Speaking in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is a life-changing experience – but so was this,” Donaldson said.

“It dawned on me that this trip was about so much more than competing. It was about connecting. It was about compassion. For me, it was about ministering through my words and my actions. That’s the ‘why’ of it all.”

Upon his return home, the Memphis City Council honored Donaldson with a proclamation for his success in making the finals of Toastmasters International’s World Championship of Public Speaking.

This accomplishment is big.

“Eight of us in the finals didn’t win, but the impact we all can have in our communities is tremendous,” said Donaldson, noting that his life has changed. “My prayer is no longer what has happened, but what can happen from here.”

He said he wants to see others have as much a “horizon expanding experience – especially our youth, and others, who may be gentle souls with something to say – like me.”

Unity Christian Church is located at 3345 McCorkle Rd. The Rev. Eric Ovid Donaldson may be reached at (901) 654-5634. Unity Toastmasters meet every Thursday from 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. You can follow Donaldson on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rev.donaldson or www.twitter.com/EricOvidDonalds.

Mayors report progress in support of Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ thrust

My Brother's Keeper

Back in February when President Barack Obama took the wraps off of the administration’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative he made it clear that he would be looking to “build a broad coalition of backers.”

Mayors of U.S. Cities were envisioned as key coalition members in the effort to arrest the slide and nurture the growth of boys and young men of color – a segment of the country described as too often facing “disproportionate challenges and obstacles to success.” This week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released the findings of a survey on mayors’ efforts to promote and implement the goals the president set out.


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