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City alumnus David
Starwalt to present 'The Brotherhood of Blue' April 4
March 25, 2009 --
David Starwalt and Company will present "The Brotherhood of Blue," a
readers' theatre performance, as part of Delta Blues Symposium XV:
Celebrating a Century of Delta Culture. Starwalt and Company's
performance will take placeSaturday, April 4, from 9:15 a.m.-10:15 a.m.
in the Mockingbird Room, ASU's Reng Student Services Center/Student
Union, 101 N. Caraway Road, Jonesboro.
Born in Poplar Bluff, Mo. in 1952,
Starwalt’s family moved to the vicinity of Pine Bluff, Ark. in the late
1950s. His father owned and operated an antique and used furniture and
appliance store in the neighborhood bordering the campus of Arkansas
AM&N College, at that time, a Negro college. Arkansas A & M is now
the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. At home, he was exposed to the
sounds of Hank Williams and the Grand Ole Opry, but when he played in
the neighborhood around the store in the summer, the sound that came out
of those open windows was often Delta Blues. He was hooked and didn’t
even know it.
After two short stints in college at the University of Arkansas and
Southeast Missouri State University, Starwalt set off to Chicago try his
luck as an actor. It was there that he became involved with the Second
City troupe and started his journey to becoming an entertainer. He
stayed in Chicago three years, going from Second City to his first
Equity show with actor Forrest Tucker. He did a couple of commercials
and penned his first play, a children’s show written to celebrate the
bicentennial, "200 Years of Museum Madness." It would be a very long
wait for him before he wrote his second play.
Starwalt moved to L.A. in the late 1970s to pursue a film and television
career and wound up staying there for more than thirty years. He has
performed in more than 60 television shows, numerous films, and plays,
and he has performed in night clubs as a comedian and as part of several
improvisational comedy groups. In 2001, his father was stricken with
leukemia, and Starwalt returned to Missouri to help take care of him
until his death. It was during this time that he took up writing again.
"The Brotherhood of Blue" is a product of that period. This piece was
originally developed as a television project and pitched to Universal
Studios in the early 1980s. The script for the film, "Black and Blues,"
wasn’t written until six-and-a-half years ago and this script, "The
Brotherhood of Blue," was written four years ago. Starwalt says, "We
won’t even talk about the many rewrites along the way."
The film script for "Black and Blues," from which "The Brotherhood of
Blue" was adapted is the story of Jimmy, a white kid raised by a black
family in a blues bar in Memphis.
The adult Jimmy is completely broken as he goes home to bury his best
friend and brother. Once upon a time, he and Little T. fronted "The
Brotherhood of Blue," the biggest blues/rock band of their era. They had
it all: sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, only to fade into a drug-induced
obscurity. Now, fifteen years after the band’s breakup, Jimmy has had to
mortgage everything to mount their comeback. So when Little T. dies of
an overdose before the first show, things couldn’t be worse. Especially
for Jimmy, who reluctantly got Little T. a "little somethin’ to get him
through the show."
Where is home, if you don’t know what "home" is? Jimmy's past haunts him
as he tries to keep it together during Little T’s memorial celebration.
Jimmy, like Everyman, is always alone on that hard road to redemption.
If he can find himself, maybe he can forgive himself.
"The Brotherhood of Blue" has been a labor of love for David Starwalt,
and he does hope that audiences enjoy meeting these good people who have
been living in his head for far too long.