About Levy Lee

Posted in Biography with tags , , , , , , on April 7, 2011 by lkthayer

 

 

 

Award winning playwright, actor, screenwriter and teacher Levy Lee Simon
was born and raised in New York City’s Harlem USA. Growing up in that
politically charged and culturally rich environment Levy Lee was exposed to the
realities of life at a young age though he spent most of his time as a youngster
playing sports. He was selected All-City in track and football and was chosen as
an All American in his favorite sport, football. His gifts on the football field   led
him to Cheyney State University in Pennsylvania. It was at Cheyney State while
studying to become a journalist that Levy Lee discovered his passion for the
theatre and decided on a career as an actor. Returning to NYC Levy Lee studied
with legendary artists, Gertrude Jeanette, Ernie McClintok, Charles Turner,
Nathan George and Woodie King Jr. He eventually became a member
prestigious theatre companies such as the 127th Street Repertory Ensemble, the
Negro Ensemble Company and Circle Repertory Theatre Company. During
those years, Levy Lee performed in over fifty productions on the New York City
stage culminating in the Pulitzer Prize winning, Tony nominated, The Kentucy
Cycle, with Stacy Keach.

It was at Circle Repertory LAB that Levy Lee began to explore his talent for
writing and after an extremely successful production of his play God the
Crackhouse and the Devil was awarded a fellowship to the University of Iowa’s
MFA Playwright’s Workshop. At Iowa, Levy Lee attained his MFA and wrote
several plays that put him on the map as one of the most prolific contemporary

playwrights of our time.  His play, The Bow Wow Club was the 1998/99 winner of
Kennedy Center Lorraine Hansberry Award for “Best Full Length Play.” His
screenplay adaptation of The Bow Wow Club, was optioned by FOX Searchlight,
and Forrest Whitaker’s Spirit Dance Production Company. The Bow Wow Club
stage productions include: The Workshop Theatre-NY, The Stella Adler Theatre –
LA, The National Black Theatre Festival –NC, The Karamu Theatre – Cleveland,
and the Firehouse Theatre in Memphis.  His award winning trilogy on the
Haitian Revolution, For the Love of Freedom was co produced by Danny Glover’s
Robey Theatre Company and the Green Arts Alliance in 2001, 2002 and 2004. The
trilogy was directed by the acclaimed artistic director of the Robey Theatre Ben
Guillory and was nominated for over sixteen NAACP Awards and an Ovation
nomination. Levy Lee’s The Guest at Central Park West was the recent recipient of
three 2007 Audelco Awards for “Best Lead Actor” – John Marshall Jones , “Best
Playwright” – Levy Lee Simon,  and “Dramatic Production of the Year.”  – The
H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players. Over the years Levy Lee has made his mark as a
recognized theatre artist in this country.  His plays have been read and produced
at the Geffen Theatre, Denver Center, St. Louis Black Repertory, The New
Federal Theatre, North Carolina Black Theatre Festival, The WorkShop,
Algonquin Productions, NY and more.

Other noted plays by Levy Lee Simon include: Same Train, The Stuttering Preacher,
DAD, Caseload, Pitbulls and Daffodils, Smell the Power, HOT and more. Screenplays
include: The Bow Wow Club, Caseload, God the Crackhouse and the Devil, Moot, and In
the Jazz Time, which he completed in the 2009 Bill Cosby Screenwriting
Workshop.

His screenplay options include: The Bow Wow Club (FOX Searchlight), DAD
(Edmonds Productions), God the Crackhouse and the Devil, (SSE) and The Guest at
Central Park West. (MTA Productions.)

Levy Lee continues his career as a playwright, screenwriter and actor presently
residing in LA though he still spends many months of the year in his hometown,
New York City.

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Actor

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Playwright

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Director

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Poet

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on April 7, 2011 by lkthayer

 

 

“I Am”

I am a Black Man.
See me.
I am the language I do not speak.
Hear me.
I am rivers of emotion.
Feel me.
I am the fruit of life.
Taste me.
I am the earth of Africa living all over the world.
Touch me.
I am song and dance and tribal rhythms,
the heartbeat of life.
Know me.

I am King Ramseys, Moses, Tutenkumen, Hannibal, and
Shaka Zulu and…

I am the man who stood on auction blocks, head high,
teeth bared, stripped naked so the eyes of the world
could peer envious at my nobility.

I am the man that worked the fields of these lands singing
spirituals under the sun, who stole away into the night on
freedom’s flight. I am Nat Turner, and Gabriel Prossor,  and
Denmark Vessey when the only solution was revolt and
revolution.

I am Cojoe, Toussaint,  Christophe and that mean Jean
Jacques  Dessalines, the baddest liberators the world has ever
seen.  Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver and Huey P too.  Make
em frown, I’m also H Rap Brown.

I am the first to die for liberty in America.
That’s  a fact thanks to Christpus Attacs.
I am the turning point in the Civil War.
I am all the souls of the Massachusetts 54th

I am Henry Highland Garnett,
and Frederick Douglas.
I am Harlem’s Fighting 369 marching to jazz music in time,
while shooting a gun in WWI.

I am the Tuskegee Airman flying high in the sky,
proving that Black men can indeed fly.
I am a Blood in Vietnam, killing strangers for Uncle Sam.

I am the cowboy on the cattle trial.
I am Bill Pickett and Nat “Deadwood Dick” Love,
Cherokee Bill, and Black Bart, he’d put a hole in your heart.

And, I am the strange fruit,
hanging from strange vines at dusk.
Sing Billie!
I am the Scottsboro Boys, Emmett Till,
And the Tuskegee syphilis experiment without consent.

I am a Black Man,
I created spirituals, and ragtime, jazz, and blues.
I am Scott Joplin and Buddy Bolden
Satchmo, The Duke, and The Count.

I am America’s classical music.

I am an intellectual aristocrat,
fighting the racist ideology I constantly combat,
I am Carver, Dubois, Garvey and old Booker T.
And today I am taking all challenges,
debating against the best,
I’m Lois Gates, Tavis Smiley, and Cornell West,

I have known rivers because I am Langston Hughes,
I am a native son giving a fright, from the pen of Richard
Wright.  I am Ralph Ellison giving Invisible Men insight.
I am James Baldwin in Givonni’a Room, creating Blues for
Mister Charlie for The Fire Next Time.

I am Canada Lee in, “Another Country.”
I am Paul Robeson playing Othello, singing “Old Man River,”
talent so intense they had to put me on a Black list.

I am the Renaissance Man.

I am the baseball player riding a rickety bus
from one hot dusty Jim Crow town to the next,
proving I was better than the best.
I am Josh Gibson, Kool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige
Jackie Robinson, Hammering Hank and Willie Mays
I am Bob Gibson and Bobby Bonds, Darryl Strawberry too,
But I’m not just a drug abuser, I’m also Ken Griffey Jr.
I am that Black kid playing basketball under  inner lights at
night.  I am the Harlem Globe Trotters, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill
Russell, Connie Hawkins and The Big O putting on triple
double show. I am the attack they call Shaq! The creativity of
Kobe, the  elegance of Dr. J, the magic of Magic.
No! I don’t want to me like Mike, I am Michael Jordon.

Want me to stop, I’m not because I am Bee-bop.
I am Dizzy, and Monk, Miles and the Train. I am Cannonball,
and Charlie Parker going insane.

I am Walter Payton and Gale Sayers playing for the Chicago
Bears.  Man, I am the Juice. I am Doug Williams throwing five
TDs winning a Super Bowl. That day I was the man
even if I wasn’t invited to Disney Land.

I am Jim Brown, LT,  and Deacon Jones, breaking bones,
Barry Sanders and Emmit Smith, And I am the latest greatest
I am Michael Vick.

I am citified and countrified, old school and new.
I am Martin ringing the freedom bell and his blood at the
Lorraine Hotel.  I am Detroit Red dancing the Linde Hop,
and, I am the Malcolm they had to stop. I am his blood on the
floors of the Autobon Ballroom.  And, Al Sharpton too, with
the greasy hair –do.

I am all the days of Nelson Mandela’s
resistance on Robben Island.
I am his ticker tape parade down the
“Ave. of Heroes” in New York City.
I am the freedom of South Africa.

I am Cassius Clay becoming Muhammed Ali.
I am all the sweet sugars of Robinson and Leonard Rays.
I am the motor city Hit Man. I am Marvelous! I am smoking
like Joe Frazier.  I am even Mike Tyson fighting and biting.

I’m Denzel living the life of Rueben Hurricane Carter,
and Wesley Snipes being a vampire in the night.
I am acting with the action of Samuel L. Jackson.
I am Sidney Poitier,  Sirring with Love
In The Heat of the Night, but  “Call Me Mr. Tibbs!”

I am Barry Gordy founding Motown.
I’m Smokey, and Marvin, the Temps, and no jive, The Jackson
Five.  I am Black man getting down, I also James Brown,
“Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud.”

I am OJ s verdict and I’m Johnny Cockcrane “If it doesn’t fit
you must acquit.” And for some of you, I’m Chris Darden too.

I am the Sugar Hill Gang.
I am Ice T s definition of nigger.
I am Run DMC, Tupac, and Biggie Smalls,
Snoop Dogg, P. Diddy, Dr. Dre,  and LL Kool J.
“I’m gonna knock you out!  Mama said Knock You Out,”
Cause I’m a Bad Boy, A Public Enemy, On Death Row.

I am a Black Man, still harvesting the fields of these lands,
hustling on the streets, driving buses, and delivering the mail,
attending Harvard, Grambling, Howard, and Yale,
and rotting in jail cells….. I am doctoring and lawyering,
inventing, not relenting.

And I am the target of genocide.
Dying on the streets, nodding in alleyways,
smoking crack another attack,
but I’m also Claude McKay, fighting back!

I am combating racism, living with pride,
And refusing to die!
I am having faith in God and questioning men god.
I am looking the world in the face,
And saying I ain’t going no place.

I’m saying “yes” to “Yes I can!”
because I am Barack Obama!!!!

Because I’m the president, a Black man!

Are you getting my drift on this rift?
This is my anthem, the grand sum in the new Millennium.
See me right!!!!!
I’m not a stereotype.

I am a Black man.
Feel me.
I am a Black man.
Hear me.
I am a Black man.
Taste me
I am a Black man.
Touch me.
I am a Black man.
See me.
I am a Black man
Know me.
I am a Black man!

Levy Lee Simon

© 2011