Sunday, February 6, 2022

INTERVIEW: Keena Redding - Renaissance Woman

Meeting Keena Redding was like meeting a friend of many years, except for the simple matter that we had not previously met. Nor did I then know that she's a wholly remarkable Renaissance Woman. Keena, a native Atlantan, is an actress, a classical singer, and theatre artist. At Horizon Theatre, where I first met her, Keena is the Development Director and it was recently announced that she is also their Director of Equity & Impact, a new role for the theatre. And there's more...

Keena Redding
Keena Redding, Actress, Singer, Playwright

Keena holds a Master's degree in Vocal Performance, she teaches theatre and gives music lessons, and she's the Music Director at Horizon's annual children's Christmas show, Madeline's Christmas. She's a mother--of the human and feline persuasions--she's an activist, and she's a playwright, which is why we're here today. 

Keena has graciously gifted me an interview about her first play, soon to be part of Theatrical Outfit's The Graham Martin UNEXPECTED PLAY FESTIVAL 2022, a four-part series of digital readings of brand-new plays by Atlanta playwrights in partnership with Working Title Playwrights

I'll share more about the Unexpected Play Festival immediately following the interview with Keena. Let's jump right in...

wanderlust ATLANTA: Congratulations on your first playwrighting venture! Please, share with us a little about the play.

Keena: Travis, thank you so much for having me on your blog. THE BULLET chronicles the long-time friendship of Buddhists Robin Simmons (black) and Kristen Frazier (white) as they navigate critical issues, including parenting adult children, in vitro fertilization, and politics. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, the play takes the audience on a powerful journey of friendship, betrayal and hope.

wanderlust ATLANTA: You've acted, you've sung, you've directed...what made you want to become a playwright? 

Keena: I have always loved writing and am excited to expand my creative expression into the world of playwriting. I feel so fortunate to have my play included in this important new play festival. I hope THE BULLET positively impacts all who experience it and that it helps to promote radical individual change.

wanderlust ATLANTA: I had the great pleasure of listening in on one of your music lessons last year, online during the COVID-19 pandemic. You spoke of enunciating one's consonants. That single piece of wisdom was a huge help to me in doing radio interviews for my book, in which Theatrical Outfit is included. Thank you so very much. When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career as a professional singer?

Keena: I am so happy to hear that my music lesson had a positive impact on you. Thank you so much. I have known since I was a child that I wanted to pursue a career in theatre and music. Almost every Sunday afternoon when I  was growing up, I would ask my parents and younger siblings to watch plays and musicals I would write, direct, and perform in. I love performing and  anything to do with the arts and still do. The arts are my passion. 

wanderlust ATLANTA: You've performed all over Metro Atlanta...share with us a few of those places?

Keena: I have been so fortunate in my career. I have worked at the Alliance, Georgia Shakespeare, ART Station, Atlanta Lyric, Theatrical Outfit, Aurora, Georgia Ensemble, Out Front (where I am on the advisory board), and  Horizon.

wanderlust ATLANTA: I've never heard life in the performing arts called dull. Please share with us a unique or unexpected happening your stage career.

Keena: I had the honor of performing alongside my amazing daughter, Miquela Rivers and fabulous student, Eden Mew, this past December in the concert version of The Salvation of Ebby Scrooge by Larry Larson and Eddie Levi Lee at Horizon Theatre. Miquela and Eden were both dynamic in the production and I was delighted to be on the stage with two young actresses whose talents and careers I have helped to nourish – truly an honor.

wanderlust ATLANTA: I'd be challenged if I said that most activists are shy people, so I'll ask the question. What issues/topics are you most passionate about and for what changes are you fighting?

Keena: I am most passionate about fighting against racism and the intersectionality of all “isms” that serve to marginalize and oppress. I deeply believe that unless we create authentically equitable, anti-racist systems, policies, laws, and hierarchical structures, our country and way of life is jeopardy. 

wanderlust ATLANTA: This being a tourism blog, I must ask...when you do find some free time, what or where in Atlanta is a must-do experience for you?

Keena: I love Little Five Points. I love the people, the culture, the food, the shops, and the vibe. I have been going there since I was in high school. When folks come to visit Atlanta and ask me where they absolutely have to visit, I always say Little Five Points. Shout out to Sevenanda, Crystal Blue, and Cameli’s

wanderlust ATLANTA: If you could meet and perform with any actor, singer, etc., real or fictitious, who would that be and what would you perform and why?

Keena: I would have performed with Prince on his Purple Rain Tour.

wanderlust ATLANTA: I've only ever seen you with a bright and beautiful smile on your face. What's your secret to work-life balance when you're involved in such a multi-faceted career?

Keena: I love to read, write in my journal, dance, exercise on my elliptical, and meditate. I also love watching British, female lead detective shows and snuggling with my cat, Giselle.

wanderlust ATLANTA: "Thank you, Keena!" for making time for this interview. I am so grateful to know you and look forward to watching your career as it continues to blossom. Thank you also for the way you brighten every room you enter. You always make me smile.

Theatrical Outfit's UNEXPECTED PLAY FESTIVAL 2022

Theatrical Outfit's The Graham Martin UNEXPECTED PLAY FESTIVAL 2022

Over four nights, from Theatrical Outfit, some of the best talent in Atlanta will come together to share fresh and topical stories with you February 20-23, 2022, in a live streaming event. Plus, you the audience gets involved as every reading will be followed by a facilitated discussion led by Amber Bradshaw from Working Title Playwrights to give the writers immediate feedback for their next draft.

Keena's play, THE BULLET, will stream on Monday, February 20, 2022, at 7pm. Tickets are free, but reservations are required. And do check out Theatrical Outfit's main stage plays, as well as the plethora of other entertaining content!

Theatrical Outfit's UNEXPECTED PLAY FESTIVAL 2022
"THE BULLET" by Keena Redding at Theatrical Outfit

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