Exclusive Interview: Karen Roberson Provides Men with a Platform to Voice What Matters to Them

Exclusive Interview: Karen Roberson Provides Men with a Platform to Voice What Matters to Them
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How many women empowerment events do you run into? Probably more than you can count, right? Now how many men empowerment events do you come across? Yeah, not that much. When it comes to our men, especially our Black men, there are not many outlets out there that give them a voice. This is why playwright Karen Roberson created ‘The Penis Monologues: The Long Hard Truth’. She wanted to create a space for men to voice their concerns and feelings.

I recently attended one of the rehearsals for the upcoming show on May 19thand May 20th, and the rehearsals put me in awe, so I only know that the actual production is going to be remarkable! The writing of this monologue is astounding! Each cast member is in touch with character because they can relate to the stories in their everyday lives. The stories that are in this stage production are REAL and RAW. There is no sugarcoating with this one and it all comes from the male’s perspective.

After the rehearsal, Mrs. Karen Roberson sat down with me where we chatted on her inspirations to bring this creation to life and where she envisions to take it in the future.

What inspired you to write this production?

What inspired me to write ‘The Penis Monologues’ is that I feel like our men lack a platform for them. As I was telling you earlier, I can easily go to a woman’s empowerment situation like almost every weekend. There is nothing going on for our men; there is nothing that they have where they can say, ‘We are a brotherhood, we are together, and we are going to empower each other; and we are going to uplift each other, and we are going to talk about some serious issues so that we can become better.

Men don’t have that. I’m not talking about an every now and then men’s conference, I’m talking about what do they have. And so, with ‘The Penis Monologues’ I hope that I can start a movement; a movement for men. A brand for them.

After the stage production is all said in done, what else do you envision for ‘The Penis Monologues’ or for our men in general?

I would like to do conferences, tours and panel discussions. ‘The Penis Monologues’ goes way beyond the stage.

From being able to witness just a snippet of what to except from the show tonight during rehearsal, I can tell that each male resonated with their character, so for casting how did you pick out each character?  

Well, for Reggie and Idrees, the dual monologues, I wrote those specifically for them. But for casting, I’m the type of person that is a feeler, I like to feel and be moved. If I’m not moved when I’m casting, then you don’t have a job. I need to feel it in my soul and these guys just came in and blew me away!

What can people except from this show? I know you did 6 previous shows last year, which all sold out, so what can we except? Did you had some twists and turns this go around?

I did add some elements of surprise. Every time I do the show I try to elevate it a little bit more. If you are a person that is returning to see the show, you’re going to see something a little different. I just feel like that’s our way of keeping our audience on their toes and looking forward to seeing what we have.

We’re going to take you on a rollercoaster ride! These guys are going to strap you in for an hour and 30 minutes and you are going to have to hear what they say, but I promise you when you [women] leave that you will have a greater appreciation for men, specifically our Black men.

And when men leave, they will feel empowered and knowing that they have a voice and a platform to be heard. That’s what ‘The Penis Monologues’ is about.

How can people get tickets?

People can get tickets at thelonghardtruth.brownpapertickets.com. They can follow us on social media @thelonghardtruth on Instagram and Mahogany Girl Productions on Instagram and Facebook. You can also get tickets from the website at mgproductionsllc.com. All the information is there on the website and you can also read up on the cast and you can see what upcoming events that we have.

But listen, I want Uncle Steve Harvey to see this. I need my Aunty Oprah to see this and I just need some heavy hitters to really rally behind me to help get this on the global platform where it needs to be. If the Vagina Monologues became huge like it was, I know clearly that the messages that we’re sending can spread like wildfire!  

Can you see yourself making a film from ‘The Penis Monologues’?

Yes, I do! We are in talks about film. I would love to speak with Showtime, HBO or Starz to do an actual special. I’m excited. There is no limit to what we could do. We’re going to take it to the stage, to the big screen, to the community---everywhere that it needs to hit the people, so they can be changed, uplifted and empowered. That is where this message needs to go.

As we wrap things up, I know you said this is the first play that you have done, so how was it being behind the scenes as the director and writer than from being in the spotlight? Which one do you like better?

I know right! I really like this side because I feel like, don’t get me wrong I love acting and I love singing as well but when you become the playwright and you become the creator, now I have the voice, the control and the creativity to create the things that I want people to hear and see. So, I’m really like that and it has inspired me to continue to create other content to keep bringing the people. You can always except it REAL and RAW.

I feel like it’s easy to have those feel good conversations, right? But what about the long-hard truth? What about those uncomfortable conversations that no one needs to have? So, you can always except me to keep it REAL.

Awesome. I’m looking forward to more!

The show is on May 19 and May 20 at Cal State Dominguez Hills where I’m an alumnus of their theater department, so it’s always fun bringing my stuff home and allowing the community to come out. We don’t always have to go to Hollywood to see good quality stuff. I can put my stuff in the hood and let them come and be blessed by it as if we were anywhere else.

I’m happy that it is at Dominguez. We’re going to have a good time. Come ready! All I can say be ready for an unforgettable ride.

‘The Penis Monologues’ features: Tobyus as ‘Angry Penis’; Lamont Young as ‘Broken Penis’; Samuel Simmons as ‘Devoted Penis’; Lucky Conner as ‘Loving Penis’; Marwan Granville as ‘Disappointed Penis’; Louis Kameron Jack III as ‘Empty Penis’; Reggie Myles as ‘I Don’t Penis’; Idrees Degas as ‘I Do Penis’; DeJuan Christopher as ‘My Penis Matters’; and Mike Strong as ‘Erotic Penis’.

The show premieres Saturday, May 19 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 20 at 5 p.m. at California State Dominguez Hills Theater located at 1000 E Victoria Street in Carson. Tickets can be purchased at http://bit.ly/PenisMonologuesLA. For more information, please call (310) 291-5315.

Naomi K. Bonman is the founder and editorial director of Purposely Awakened, a digital media agency for millennial activist and change agents of color. A digital media maven at heart, Naomi is also a journalist, screenwriter and digital content creator. Originally from Southern California, Naomi received her B.A. in Mass Media Arts with a concentration in Journalism from Clark Atlanta University and her Masters of Public Administration from Keller School of Management of DeVry University.