By Frankie Kujawa
Baltimore Center Stage audiences will prepare for turbulence as AIN’T NO MO’ takes to the skies this November. Running through Sunday, November 20th, the ground-breaking performance offers a glimpse into a world where breaking news alerts everyone that Black Americans are being offered a one-way ticket to Africa. Peaches, the beautiful drag queen flight attendant for African-American Airlines flight 1629, greets Charm City audiences as they prepare for the bumpy flight. Actor Jon Hudson Odom, who plays Peaches, chats about the captivating production’s effect on audiences.
“Audiences can expect an uplifting, hilarious flight into the Black experience in America,” began Odom. “They will get a glimpse into what it would be like to have this mass exodus of all [Black Americans] leaving America in order to solve the racial problems in this country. Right from the beginning, we ask the audience to be an active participant in the show itself. Not to just sit back and watch, but really be involved both vocally and emotionally.”
Odom continued, “To pull from someone else who said it, there are a lot of ‘ha-ha’ moments in order to get a lot of ‘a-ha’ moments. That’s the brilliance of this piece. One minute, you are gut-busting laughing, and in the next minute you're heart is just pounding out of your chest. That’s the ride that the play takes [audiences] on. We’re telling a different story and asking audiences different questions. We then weave it all together into this beautiful tapestry of the black experience.”
As Peaches, Odom’s character is both the literal and figurative gatekeeper in the production. “I’m a gatekeeper between the powers-that-be and the passengers boarding the flight.” Odom added, “Sometimes, I wish I could wake up and be Peaches in the morning. She is gorgeous with a whole lot of personality. She’s seen a lot in life and, because of that, has a lot of truths to share. I think she is someone that you wouldn’t necessarily want to f**k with, but you would also want her in your corner. She has a great sense of humor and a great sense of heart, and really embodies the conflicts that we sometimes face.” Odom went on to explain that all of the scenes involving Peaches tends to showcase her by herself, which he added was very purposeful.
Odom concluded that he hopes that audiences will walk away from this performance with a stronger sense of community and urgency. “There are so many topics to take away from this piece. Topics ranging from abortion to mass incarceration to just simply, black joy and one’s worth as a human being. I hope that all culminates in this ‘call to arms’ that the fight is not yet over. We, as a community, still have a long way to go. We’ve come very far but, even after the Black Lives Matter explosion a couple of years ago, we’ve kind-of lost our steam. I think that [this performance] is that reminder to not only keep fighting within ourselves personally, but also to fight the fight together. Taking that ‘me’ mentality and turning it into that ‘we’ mentality.”
For more information, visit: www.centerstage.org/