Local playwright Terell Green’s ‘Finding Serenity’
by Barrett White
Photo by Sonny James Jr.
Recent headlines have constantly reminded us that—despite many decades of fights, protests, and demonstrations—racism, homophobia, and other social injustices are still prominent issues in our society. 2014 saw the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign in response to recent killings of unarmed black men and women by police. In December, we read in horror about the gay Atlanta couple that was assaulted on the street and pushed into oncoming traffic for holding hands in the presence of a homophobic passerby.
In the wake of this recent violence, local Houston playwright Terell Green brings his work to life with a staged reading at Spring Street Studios on February 21. Green’s full-length play Finding Serenity follows the fictional protagonist Sidell as he navigates through the touchy subjects of not only homophobia and racism, but also the implications of religion and hate speech. “At the end of the night, I want people to leave the show with a new heart and a different aspect on how hate and homophobia can cause hurt and pain in a community,” Green says of his upcoming production. “I’m not afraid to push the envelope and bring things to center stage.”
Green wears four different hats—playwright, producer, director, and lead actor—in his journey to bring Finding Serenity to fruition. That journey began in 2013 after he saw a staged reading of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. “I enjoyed watching it so much, I immediately opened up Microsoft Word and began writing,” Green says. “I thought about the things that matter to me most, how I want to [distinguish] myself as a writer, and how I want my first play to stand out from any other production. I have written other scripts before, but I never took seriously the idea of actually doing anything with them. [They were simply my thoughts], really, and I would eventually throw them away. But after watching The Greene Space’s live production of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom online, I said to myself, ‘If can’t get to Hollywood, I’ll make Hollywood come to me.’”
Finding Serenity is Green’s first produced work as a playwright.
Within Finding Serenity’s diverse cast, you’ll find Chris Moore playing the role of Vance, who spends his life attempting to live up to his father’s expectations and claw for his approval after Vance’s mother leaves the family. While he focuses on his father’s church community, his dream is to study law in New York. “[Green] did a fantastic job of writing something that people could walk away from and say, ‘Hmmm, maybe I do need to get up, re-evaluate my life, and do what makes me happy,’” Moore says.
Appearing alongside Green and Moore is out actor Louis Molnar, a veteran of his craft with over 30 years’ experience on the stage, in voiceovers, in film, and in radio; his career has taken him from Houston to New York and London. Molnar appears as Ryan, the father of Sidell’s love interest, Wesley. A stark contrast to Sidell’s mother, Ryan is wholeheartedly supportive of Wesley, and brings a breath of relief from all the homophobic language. “Finding Serenity really engages the audience, because it’s a relevant story on so many levels,” Molnar says. “In Finding Serenity, Mr. Green takes [on sexual, racial, and family issues], and doesn’t take a moment to sugarcoat it. It’s funny, it’s tragic, but most of all, it’s familiar in an endearing way. Definitely not one to miss.”
Barrett White is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.