If you’re in Detroit this Valentine’s Day, then Je’ McClain (Detroit playwright, director and producer) and Meli’sa Morgan (R&B soul singer) have teamed up for a very special Valentine’s Day experience. McClain is bringing you another one of her hit stage plays, Devin, and Morgan is performing all of her classic hits such as “Fools Paradise” (sampled by Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z) and “Do Me Baby” (remake of the late legend Prince).
Rolling out spoke with the play’s producer, McClain, to find out what to expect from the play. From what she explains, it’s not your typical, traditional love story that’s usually done around Valentine’s Day. It’s something a little more calculating and suspenseful, and she’s sure you’ll love it. McClain also touches on her first film set to come out this year and gives us some insight into why she decided to pursue films as well. Check out the exclusive interview below. Leave a comment or two to let us know what you think about McClain’s upcoming projects.
Tell us about Devin.
With Devin I wanted to do something different. We always go to the stage plays where it’s about your man leaving or you’re looking for a man or “Jesus help me.” I wanted to do something that is going on in the modern day, especially in the modern-day church. Church isn’t church anymore. [People] are doing things in church that I would have never dreamed of as a kid growing up.
Devin came from opening a new door that I felt needed to be exposed about the modern-day church. Devin is a young man [who] has gone through a tragic situation as a kid and because of it, he came back to the church to take vengeance on those he felt caused that pain.
The play is set to hit the stage on Valentine’s Day in Detroit, but it is not a love story. Why did you choose Valentine’s Day to debut the play?
I knew people would want to do something around the Valentine’s Day love theme. I wanted to do something that would be intriguing and suspenseful. There are a lot of love concerts and plays coming up, so I wanted to do something different. In a sense, [Devin’s] anger does come from a place of love because of the person he has loved in the play and that is where the vengeance is coming from. I am a writer [who] always writes outside of the box. I wanted to debut it Valentine’s Day weekend because it would be something that people are looking for.
How long have you been writing plays and what is the most interesting play to-date that you have written?
When I was 10 years old I wrote my first play. The Michigan Chronicle was giving a young writers award and at my fifth-grade graduation they came and presented me with the award. My teacher submitted a [piece] unbeknownst to me and I received that award. I have been writing ever since I was 10 years old but, once my kids got older and were out on their own that’s when I started to pursue a career in [playwrighting]. I put on my first play in 2012 and this is my 20th stage play. I’ve been working with a lot of great people. Carl Payne from “Martin,” he was in one of my biggest productions and he has been like a mentor to me. Sometimes when I get different ideas I would call or text him and ask, “What do you think about this?” A lot of people give me guidance, but writing has been something that has been passionate to me all my life. As far as the best play, I would say this one [Devin] because I feel like this one is going to be the breakout one. This one will give me the notoriety I feel I deserve. We are also going on tour with this play.
Approximately, how many city stops are you guys thinking about doing?
Right now, we are talking to theatres in Chicago, Indiana and Philadelphia. Indiana is pretty much a lock, we are just getting some dates together. We are going back and forth with the theatres in Philadelphia and Chicago but, once we get the dates locked in we are going to those three cities.
Is there anything else that you would like for the readers to know?
Yes, keep your eyes and ears open for Je’ McClain and what’s coming up next. Shortly after this tour, I am going to do my first film which is called 25. Once they see the show they are going to want to continue to follow the shows and be entertained. I hope they come out and see Devin and everything else that I have coming up.
Before we wrap up, tell us a little more about your first film coming out?
It’s about three young Black men who grew up as best friends and the goal was to reach the age of 25. All they talk about is, “if we reach the age of 25 we will be OK, we will make it.”
This is near and dear to my heart because one of the young men is my brother and he was killed 21 years ago, and he wasn’t able to reach 25. So, the storyline the background, everything about the film is going to be awesome. This [film] will be relatable because there is so much going on in the African American community, but I think this [film] will really make people think. [Twenty-five] is something we all need to see, to help the urban youth and the generation behind us to not make the same mistakes in life.
Where can people find more information?
Email: [email protected]