The Asheville Fringe will also host a number of first-time participants. Arizona-based actor and writer Michael Washington Brown will debut his one-man show, Black!, at The Magnetic Theatre. He’s excited not only to perform at Fringe but also to be an audience member. “I want to immerse myself in what’s going on,” he says. “I plan to make the most of my time in Asheville.”
Born in London, Brown was raised by Caribbean parents and came to the U.S. in 1992. He says much of the material in Black! is derived from personal experience. The show is composed of four monologues delivered by four characters, all played by Brown. These unnamed personalities come from different areas of the world — Europe, America, the West Indies and Africa. What they have in common is skin color, yet each offers a unique perspective on what being black means to him and how it has affected the way the character interacts with the world.
Brown has decades of experience onstage in New York City and San Francisco. His performance at the local Fringe Festival, however, will mark his first time writing a stage production. “I don’t want gimmicks,” he says, so Black! will have no set or wardrobe change between monologues. “If the characters are not distinguished by my voice and my actions, then I haven’t done my job.”
Brown is also emphatic about the show’s inclusivity. “The most important thing to me is not to make this a black and white thing,” he says. The message is universal: Black! intends to break down stereotypes and generalizations in order to highlight the similarities that exist across the world.
“Culturally speaking, we all have our own perspective,” says Brown. “But innately we’re connected, because we’re all human beings. We’ve got the same ability to express emotions. We want the same things in life: We want to be happy, we want to be surrounded by loved ones, we want to do good in the world.”