Hello, Azuka friends -- happy weekend! And happy last weekend before BOB opens NEXT WEEK! The cast and crew have been incredibly busy preparing to bring Bob’s journey to life, but I was able to snag a few of them for some questions.
Frank Jimenez and Sabriaya Shipley are both members of the Chorus in BOB, and Paul Harrold plays Bob himself! Here’s what they had to say about some ideas pertinent to the world of BOB.
Where in the world did you begin? Where are you now? What are the most significant stops you made along the way? BONUS: Is there an interesting story about that journey you want to share?
I’m a Baltimore girl through and through. I was cracking crabs at the age of 4. I put Old Bay seasoning on almost everything. I say “Hon” a lot & don’t ask me to say the number 2! Nina Simone’s “Baltimore” plays in my ear every time I come home to visit. It reminds me of the injustices that have been going on for year and my responsibility to come back to my community with riches in knowledge and access.
I was born in Silver Spring, Maryland outside of DC, but from the age of 3 I grew up in Lancaster County PA. It was a beautiful place to grow up, and it's the reason I feel most at home outdoors. I also was fortunate to have many opportunities to accompany my mother on trips for her work. For a spot of time I stayed in a mountain town in Kenya called Kijabe, where I got to play music and do magic for kids in the nearby children's hospital. I'll never forget that. I moved to Philly to study acting and get connected to an awesome theatre scene. I ADORE living here and intend to stay in a city for good, but boy do I love Lancaster a great deal. Used to be that I longed with great angst to get out of the country, but nowadays the mere thought of a cow or stalk of corn makes me giddy.
Tell a story of a stranger that has had an impact -- however big or small -- on your life.
When I was a little kid, I was very adventurous and would often find myself in trouble. On this particular day though my adventures went too far. My mother had decided to take me to the park which was around the corner of our house. My mother at the time was carrying my baby sister in her arms. She had also told me to stick by her side and not go off on my own. Of course I did not listen, as my excitement for the park overwhelmed me. I ran ahead, leaving my mother to call out after me. It was a very small park which was protected by fences surrounding it. However, the fences were under construction at the time and had a caution sign to not touch the fences because they had just installed new ones. As a little boy, I thought hanging onto these fences would be a lot of fun. It was not fun at all. As my mother rushed to scold me to get off the fence. The fence collapsed on my entire body, I was trapped underneath this fence and my right leg somehow was touching the back of my head. I couldn’t gather the strength to get this huge fence off of me. My mother could not do anything because she had my baby sister in her arms and could not set her down anywhere. She looked around panicked and there was no one in sight to help her. She was crying out for her me and was frozen in helplessness when one of our neighbors happened to be walking home, and saw us. He immediately ran to my aid and lifted this fence off me and carried me to safety. I had to go to the hospital immediately and had some injuries but this man helped my mother in her time of need. Ever since then, I’ve always thought I had a pretty great neighbor.
“He immediately ran to my aid and lifted this fence off me and carried me to safety.”
I love my elders, especially older Black Women. My phone had dropped out of my pocket and in a split second had “disappeared.” My Greyhound bus was scheduled to leave in 20 minutes. Immediately I started crying because for many of us our phone holds so much information. I asked a lady walking by if I could use her phone. This sweet elderly black woman stopped and before giving me her phone to make my call said “Hold on a minute & breathe. It’s okay to cry now, but as long as you handle your business and cry.” In that instant she had become every one of my favorite Black Women rolled into one, reminding me of my strength yet vulnerability. I’ll never forget Ms. Whilamena.
I had entered a battle of the bands with my 7th grade punk band, The Sex Burritos. It was at this dive bar. When it came time to play, it hit me that I'd forgotten my guitar. Distraught, I was gearing up to forfeit the night when a strange, grizzled man from the end of the bar limped over and gave me his own. He said it was hand-crafted in his shop from the finest oak wood, and contained special powers so that whomever wielded it would possess the power of Hendrix himself. As I took it, the lights flickered and the air hummed. So we played, and somehow I shredded like I never knew I could, as if my fingers were on fire. After we won, in the glow of an adoring crowd, the guitar disintegrated into dust before my eyes. The only thing that was left, sitting untarnished atop the little pile of ashes, was a note that said "CALL YOUR MOM."
Is this story apocryphal? Most likely. The point is that the strangers who have had the biggest impact on me are the ones who in passing or banal encounters, have reminded me to be grateful for the love in my life, and to call my mom.
What does it mean to you, if anything, to be “great”?
Greatness comes in many shapes and forms, but for me personally, I think to be great is to be kind. There have been so many times where the kindness of someone really shaped my life, even in the smallest of ways. Living a life with love and kindness creates some of the most fantastic people that I have met over the course of my life. They inspire me everyday to be kind and loving.
It means to be myself. It means to know my purpose. It means to love my journey.
I think greatness just means giving yourself to something you care about and seeing it grow. That can mean building houses, planting gardens, fighting ferociously for those in need, or simply loving someone.
Bob begins his unusual journey in a White Castle bathroom…but where does he go from there? What strangers does he meet along the way? And what does he believe it means to be “great”? Ask all these questions and more and reserve your Pay What You Decide tickets now to find out!
Hope to see you soon!