By W. Calvin Anderson
There’s a space between
the stage and the audience that Garland Lee Thompson Sr.
filled for us.
He was the one
who finally dressed our words for display.
Garland took the scripts shaping the “dreaming words”.
He attached the urban and mid-western sunsets to the plays and
and threw even more sophisticated condiments
into the conflicts:
like tropical wind and “last straw”… protagonist rains…
shade from grandfather trees
and wavy glass imagined windows into scripts
Our words were all grown up after
his blocked techniques, after he
reflected and responded
to raw chemistries and storyboard calamities.
He helped to create the alchemy, the African…the Ira Aldridge and Dorothy Dandridge Ashe’.
Our scripts were fashioned, neat and tidy; strong-charactered,
nice, hip, savvy, concise, dangerous, sensitive, bold and cold.
They were made qualified to carry our royal lot…
Our love, hate, politics, ironies, laughter, pain, tragedies and triumphs.
The grown-up scripts introduced and made our vital human stories pop… their
polemics, costume, dance, songs and reason to be a canvas
set for life.
We were able to then
call it theatre with no technical absurdities.
and birthed with both noun
Dude called forth God’s Trombones and Sophisticated Ladies
gave us tickets for the A train with presidential seats
to Off and On Broadway.
Cowboy hattin brother…brought our muse home
Garland was a Mid-West-Desert-Stopping-Manhattan-island-dweller
Harlem with our scripts.
Like Shakespeare’s Prospero in the Tempest
he fastened our relationships to classics and classic people:
Phyllis Wheatly, Aldridge, James Weldon Johnson, Charles Gordone, Langston Hughes, Lorraine Hansberry, Tony Morrison, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis,Ron Milner, Loften Mitchell, Lonnie Elder, Amiri Baraka, Ntozke Shange, Charles Fuller to name a few
He made us “stand-out” like pillars for the continued architecture of the Wheatly Ethiope, the Langston’s paradise lexicons, the James Baldwin intensity, rage and intellectual confrontations, the Malcolm and Martin protests and “march-forward-demands-on- law”, the sacred and profane prophetic bullet and the blood-stained ballot erected from voter registration cards to the lonely Tennessee balcony and Audubon Ballroom dream.
Garland made our arts, our letters, our sciences wield our treasuries in the Humanities from a distinguished and noble place.
He did this because he could.
He worked and earned the energies and powers like Prospero
He mastered like Prospero
the Arts & Sciences
the… betrayals, shipwrecks, gravities, aerials, calabans, love, destinies and royal interests.
He was anointed naturally. He struggled enormously with a
sweat, blood, life-work sacrifice.
Garland was a hardened Word-Smith.
A bronco riddin’ Oklahoma
Red Nation Cowboy, Star Trek Hoodie. Garland
was a crack-the-whip
disciple of the long gone
show “must” go on with excellence
Sugar Hill … Harlem G type Bucko.
There’s a space between the stage and the audience that Garland Thomson filled.
So how did he do it and what will
we search for now
that was in him?
We mustlook for the fuse to make lettered-words Electric.
We must look for a production-Houdini,
or get together with muse itself?
Whatever we do we know that, His metal, his standards are not fading or vanishing
He filled the space, the times, the realities
actually and aesthetically between
the stage and those
he respected and loved.
He trained our words, grew them up and polished off our diamond so that we are to be seen
and recognized worthy of our legacies
ready for our indivisible and quality driven Apollo Rules…audiences both black and white.
Garland filled the space between the stage and the audience with intelligence and love.
Garland filled in the love from me to you.