Shayna Boston can add yet another accomplishment to her résumé; she is now a debuted actress following her role in a live play, Defining Measures, that took place at Trustus Theatre in Columbia, South Carolina on Saturday, August 28. All three shows between 12, 4, and 8 p.m. sold out.
The 39-year-old from Swainsboro says Defining Measures was written by her friend and colleague, Raquel M.R. Thomas, a native of Columbia. She calls the two-act work a “common story within the African-American household,” dealing with “generational curses, teen suicide, foster care, fear, drug abuse, sexuality, a story of sisters and mothers.”
Boston explains about her involvement in the play, “Raquel and I, we often dream of our next adventure. This was a dream of hers that we literally discussed on a trip to Hollywood that came to fruition months later. She wrote the play in a day as it is adapted from her first book about her life called, ‘What Becomes of a Broken Soul, 2017.’ She had no idea that one of my dreams was to act, so when the casting information was posted, I sent in my audition tape. She contacted me after she reviewed it and stated she was shocked that I auditioned because I’ve never mentioned my desire to act. I told her I didn’t want to tell her because I didn’t want people to think that if I got the role, it would be because of our relationship. She was amazed.”
Shortly after that conversation, Boston was informed she would share the role of Anna, with another actress, Tawanya Herbert. The 39-year-old drug addict and alcoholic they brought to life embodied that of author Thomas’ mother during one point of her life. To prepare herself for the role, Boston watched numerous movies and inquired of Thomas about her mother.
Joining alongside Boston and Herbert as castmates in the approximate 90-minute production were Lynette Jones as “Granny,” Steven Jones as “Mr. George,” Evelyn Johnson as “Rachel,” Robert Andrews and Cecil Jackson as “Willis,” Demi Johnson as “Coach,” Raven Hariston as “Shanae,” and Joe Tucker as “John.” The crew was led by director Idris Pearson and, of course, writer and producer Thomas. Jeffrey Lampkin prepared original music for the work.
Because everyone cast in the production didn’t live in Columbia, most of the group’s rehearsals were held via Zoom with a mixture of face-to-face rehearsals before the show last week.
“This was actually my second time in a play. The first was in high school when I was a part of a group called ECPACT, or Emanuel County Performing Arts Community Theatre, led by the late Ms. Earnestine Woods. We would meet at what was known then as the Arts Center. She brought out something in me at an early age that I put to rest. This was my chance to resurrect that dream. I came to life on stage! The process and experience was exhilarating. I was proud of myself for taking a chance and the risk to do something I had always dreamed of. I was so thankful for the experience and to be given the opportunity because I’m actually good at it. I hoped my experience would serve as an inspiration to others, that you can go after all of your dreams and they are all possible if you believe.”
Boston continued, admitting she was pleased with how onlookers perceived her performance. That will hopefully lend to something bigger for others in the future.
“I was moreover ecstatic to know that other people thought that I was actually good. It gave me so much encouragement in all the endeavors that I’m currently pursuing and the courage to show others to keep going after their dreams.”
For those who missed the show, don’t worry. Boston has collaborated with the powers that be behind Defining Measures to bring an encore presentation to her hometown. Defining Measures will take the stage at the Swainsboro Auditorium on Saturday, October 9, at 6 p.m. Regular tickets will be $35 with VIP seating, complete with a Q&A session with the cast afterward, will be $50. Sales will go live online on Friday, September 10.
“I invite all of Swainsboro/Emanuel County and all surrounding counties to come out and see this production. The story being told isn’t new, but it is uncommonly told from this perspective. It’s entertaining, thought provoking, and will motivate you to never give up! Come dream with me! Enjoy a night out, a cultural experience, and finally something different to do, right here in the ‘boro!”