When a friend, Stanley Fritz, told this writer about Doughboy, a stage play he had co-written that reimagines the character played by Ice Cube in the 1991 iconic Boyz N the Hood film that was nominated for two Academy Awards, I was immediately intrigued. The play, which is being staged at Home Sweet Harlem eatery, has a creativity and attention to detail that are impressive. Rolling out spoke exclusively with the director Paul “PJ the Closer” Johnson about Doughboy.
Why did Johnson choose the character of Doughboy to tell this story? “All of these police-minority situations were coming on the news back to back. I mean, they’ve been occurring but I guess growing older, as a Black man in America, everything started to seem to be getting closer to me.” Specifically, the character Doughboy became a vehicle for Johnson. “I knew I needed a vessel to get my point[s] across,” he said.
Though characters from the film like Tre and Furious are heard from in the play with voice-overs, the introduction of new characters makes the production fascinating. We discussed some of these characters with PJ. “Dr. Washington (played by N Clayton) is a Panther-esque scholar who teaches and promotes Black Power and the strength of knowledge. OG Bhris (played by Carl Samuels) is the gang member who is perhaps more extreme than Doughboy and cannot see anything further than his own neighborhood and the people in it. He has no hope,” said Johnson
Johnson also discussed the transformation in the character Doughboy throughout the production. “My goal was to give reason to Doughboy’s actions and then show a change in character by the end of the show,” Johnson said, and that he did.
In the world of fiction, anything is possible, but could a real-life character like Doughboy have made such a transformation? One simply needs to look at the life of one Malcolm Little, who died with the name El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz, who was a pimp and a drug dealer before becoming one of the most inspirational leaders of the 20th century under the name he is most commonly known as, Malcolm X, who would have been 91 today.
Doughboy, presented by Rainy Day Films, stars Aulton Hargett as Doughboy, is directed by Paul “PJ The Closer” Johnson and is written by Stanley Fritz, N.A., and Johnson.