C.O.T.O.: CHOCOLATE ON THE OUTSIDE
A play by April C. Turner
A gripping theatrical accomplishment that explores the complexities of intra-racial tensions African-Americans experience, particularly in the corporate arena. Trapped by a paralyzing winter storm in the mountains while on the firm’s team building retreat, four African-American co-workers play a series of games that inadvertently force them to talk honestly about how they perceive one another and ultimately, how they feel about themselves. COTO toured the continental United States between 1998 and 2008. The play is still used as a text for university classes to facilitate constructive conversations about race and community.
Back by popular demand– C.O.T.O.: CHOCOLATE ON THE OUTSIDE is available for tour for the 2016-17 season. In response to the recent resurgence of interest, Life As Art is mounting a new production of COTO for audiences today.
One of the reasons for COTO’s enduring appeal is that the play creates a safe place to explore questions about race and workplace relationship dynamics. Ideally, the performance can be followed by a brief talk-back session where issues the characters confront can be discussed by audience members. During ten years of touring, these talk-back sessions proved to be useful tools for facilitating constructive community building conversation around the issues of race and culture in America. During the talk-backs people have shared very personal experiences and asked questions that they may not have felt comfortable asking in another setting. Through the prism provided by the world of the play, theatergoers from different walks of life are able to have a meaningful exchange of perspectives and understanding.
Audiences have also found COTO to be a funny play, often filling the theatre with laughter peppered with alternating shouts of affirmation and protest in response to comments made by the four-person cast of characters. However, the light moments do not undermine the import of the circumstances the characters face. Audiences are given plenty to think about while having a fun and enjoyable theatre experience.
The COTO experience is theatre magic at its best. It is not a glitzy, high-tech show. It’s a story with people that we feel like we know, working through situations that deeply impact many in American society everyday. The play fits easily onto almost any stage. The magic begins when Peter, Deni, Ahmad and Michelle realize they are stuck in the cabin—and the audience begins to feel stuck in the cabin too. Then we are all in there, figuring Life out together. For that hour and fifteen minutes we are together.
Email LifeAsArtProductions@gmail.com or call 980.254.3573 for tour history and more information about how a COTO theatre experience can best service your campus or cultural arts community.
Click the pdf link below to read a review of COTO
Presenters RAVE about COTO!
“As a result of my high esteem for the talent that went into its writing, I now teach Chocolate on the Outside as one of my texts in Introduction to African American and African Studies which include such classic works as Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.” –Dr. Tanure Ojaide, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
“Chocolate on the Outside was phenomenal!” –Lisa Roland, Hayti Heritage Center
“We loved it!” — Wendy Story, Virginia Tech
“We thoroughly enjoyed this production!” –Pamela Smith, Fayetteville State University
“I commend you and the cast on a very well written and performed play. Not only was COTO thought provoking, it entertained the audience with interesting dialogue that allowed them to grasp the nature of the issues raised.”– Thomas E. Rivers, University of South Carolina at Columbia
“Chocolate on the Outside by April Turner is a tightly constructed ‘social problem’ play in the tradition of Ibsen, Shaw, Baldwin and Hansberry… a well honed and vibrant piece.” –Professor Donald Mager, Johnson C. Smith University
ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR
A play By April C. Turner
Elementary, My Dear deconstructs the caricature images of the Teacher currently archetyped into society – Teacher as sacrificing saint, teacher as underachiever, teacher as all knowing and teacher as dreamgiver/dreamkiller. Elementary, My Dear is fashioned from interviews with K-12 teachers in various sections of the country. The product is a play that offers a multi-dimensional perspective of the people with whom we entrust our children every day, while commenting on major life relationships affecting the Teacher.
This project puts flesh and blood on the “Teacher” image, by collecting and telling their stories. Understanding the teacher as a person is a major step toward understanding how to make what happens in the classroom productive and life-affirming for both teacher and student.
Consider presenting Elementary, My Dear in conjunction with the workshops- Inspiring Hard to Reach Students to Learn: 10 Steps to a New Beginning and How to Intentionally Build Community Using the Cultural Arts.
ZORA NEALE HURSTON, renown writer and anthropologist, created and collected folklore throughout her native northeast Florida home, as well as Louisiana and various parts of the Caribbean. Though she is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance, she spent much of her career studying the dances and oral traditions of cultures in Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados and Cuba. Dancing Zora is a celebration of Zora’s groundbreaking exploration of these cultures that would become so integral to the south’s social fabric. April C. Turner interprets Zora’s collected stories, songs, proverbs and dances in this lively yet poignant presentation. While Dancing Zora celebrates the life and legacy of Zora Neale Hurston, this fun, interactive performance also showcases the beauty of some of the traditional cultures that make up the modern family of communities in the southeast.
April C. Turner, lives and works in Charlotte, NC as a film/tv actress. She has had roles in made for television movies such as Eyeborgs (SyFy Channel) and the independent film adaption of Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms. She has also had roles in Unanswered Prayers (Lifetime), Trinity Goodheart (gmc TV), Army Wives (Lifetime), Ditch Digger’s Daughters (Family Channel) and Revolution (NBC). A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Turner tours theatre productions, concerts and residencies to academic communities throughout the country –using performances as a tool to facilitate constructive conversation about social concerns and building community with the arts.