Homestead - South Dade

Richmond Heights woman writes, produces play inspired by her community

Vanessa Bell, left, has written and directed a play to be performed at Richmond Heights Middle School based upon life experiences.
Vanessa Bell, left, has written and directed a play to be performed at Richmond Heights Middle School based upon life experiences. Miami Herald Staff

Growing up, Vanessa Bell enjoyed sitting on the front porch, watching people in her neighborhood walk along the streets of Richmond Heights.

“This was during the time when Richmond Heights was a safe haven,” Bell said. “Friday night, everyone was out and about.”

Bell took inspiration from her experiences and observations in the community to write a stage play, We Ain’t Famous, We Jus Us, which was performed last year at Richmond Heights Middle School. On April 11, the school will host the second part of the play.

“I love writing. I really do,” said Bell, who also works as as a cook at the Miller’s Miami Falls Ale House and help coordinate special events at the University of Miami.

In the play, the audience becomes part of the family with Mama Jo, a single mom with two daughters, Meeka and Star, along with their friends and extended family members. The plot is driven by the town gossipers and the annual town ball.

The cast members are just as lively as the characters they play. During rehearsal, their laughter echoes through the halls of the Kingdom Faith Global Ministries, where the group meets every week to prepare for the show.

The cast includes: Dorthyia Dye, 23, a nursing student at Miami Dade College and a Publix cashier; Vernon Sullivan, 40, a law enforcement retiree; Brenda Fleming, 54, a secretary; DeWayne Keith Terry, 45, a paralegal; and Shirley Smith, 54, and Artise Le'Don Wright, 46, both professional singers.

“There’s music, there’s dancing, there’s comedy,” Bell said.

Also performing are the St. Paul AME Church God’s Angels Liturgical Dancers, a group of dancers ages 12 to 49.

Bell’s play is a tribute to her community and she hopes the story appeals to others in the area as well. She will do a dramatic reading of the first part of the play to introduce the audience to the characters.

“My lifestyle is in the play. Each of my cast members has some of me in the dialogue,” Bell said.

If you go

▪ What: “We Ain’t Famous, We Jus Us” Pt. 2: After the Ball

▪ When: 7 p.m. on April 11.

▪ Where: Richmond Heights Middle School, 15015 SW 103rd Ave.

▪ Cost: $15 for kids ages 7 to 12; $25 for ages 13 and up.

For more information, contact Vanessa Bell at 305-244-8266 or Dena Chism at 786-237-4349.

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