Victoria playwright hopes to inspire hope in community
When: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. SaturdayWhere: Johnson Symposium, 2200 E. Red River St.Cost: $20 presale, available at Mumphord's Place Restaurant; $25 at the door
Meet the cast and crew
When: 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. FridayWhere: The Golden Gecko, 202 E. Forest St.Cost: Free
A Bloomington man has a shocking secret that may tear his family apart, and it's all coming out Saturday at the Johnson Symposium Center.
"Extra Baggage," an inspirational stage play by Victoria native Robert King Jr., tells the tale of a father who made a mistake early on in his marriage and now has to tell his children about it.
This is a play that King said he had to write.
"It's blunt," he said. "It deals with the issues families normally sweep under the rug."
King said he wanted to write this play because he normally focuses on broken homes and wanted to show that problems also happen in two-parent households.
"I want the audience to say, 'That's my family right there,'" he said.
The play focuses on a father who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and has a secret wearing down on his heart - while married he cheated on his wife and fathered a child with the other woman.
While King did not want to share who exactly inspired the story, he said he used a lot of people in his personal life as motivation.
"Robert is a creative mind that has been through some hard times," Aaron Spivey-Sorrells said. "Robert wants to get across the emotion of those hard times.
Spivey-Sorrells, an Austin actor, takes on the roll of Roy Freeman, the father in the play, a roll he said that wasn't always easy to perform.
An intense scene where he slaps his daughter was particularly hard for him.
"We have to set that feeling of anger," he said. "We want it to come across as real."
Half the battle, he said, is making sure that King also feels the impact of every word.
"When we play those roles and say those lines, we need to make Robert feel those emotions again," Spivey-Sorrells said.
While the play does touch on serious issues such as death, cheating and mental illness, King said it's really about healing.
"It shows you that no one is perfect," he said. "Everyone has issues."
King said he wants the audience to realize that they don't have to be defined by their issues and they can find peace in life.
Hazel Stallion, who plays one of the daughters, said when she got the script she was surprised at how much she related to the character.
Stallion is a Victoria native who lives in Austin.
Her character is dealing with heartache after her husband's death and is bitter.
"I don't know how Robert does it, but he saw the character in me," she said. "He saw my struggles and gave me a character that is me."
For King, he said writing plays is just something that comes naturally to him, calling it an outlet for ministry.
"Sometimes in life you can feel like you're down for the count," he said. "This play tells you that you can persevere and bounce back with life."