Home » Uncategorized » Pvt. Wayne Miner and Playwright Kenthedo Robinson

Pvt. Wayne Miner and Playwright Kenthedo Robinson

buffalo soldierPlaywright, Producer, Director, and Scholar, Kenthedo Robinson, brings to life another riveting work filled with history and inspiration: The Buffalo Hero of World War I: Based on a True Story. 

Pvt. Wayne Miner, a “Buffalo Soldier,” valiantly volunteered to take artillery to the front-line during World War I even when fellow soldiers refused. Miner, a son of slaves, took the credo of the Buffalo Soldier to heart: “Deeds Not Words.” Ignoring his fears and looking death in the face, armed with the light of his mother’s spirit, Wayne Miner entered history at a time when he was not considered an equal.

Buffalo Soldiers originally were members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed in 1866. This nickname was given to the Black Cavalry by Native American tribes who fought in the Indian Wars. The term eventually became synonymous with all the African-American regiments formed in 1866. Although several African American regiments were raised during the Civil War as part of the Union Army, the “Buffalo Soldiers” were established by Congress as the first peacetime all-black regiments in the regular U.S. Army.

Robinson, known for his spiritually-infused works, gathered a repertory of like-minded artsists including Chaelene Mulgrave, Darrell Wyatt, Shatique Brown, Ms. D., Timothy Walsh, Bereket Mengistu, Mark Robinson, Isaac Winston, Phillip Iweriebor, and brought them to one of the last theaters left in NYC that was an integral part of the original off-off Broadway movement – the American Theatre of Actors – to properly honor this fallen hero.  The American Theatre of Actors, 314 W. 54th Street, NYC. 

Buffalo Soldiers originally were members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed in 1866. This nickname was given to the Black Cavalry by Native American tribes who fought in the Indian Wars. The term eventually became synonymous with all the African-American regiments formed in 1866. Although several African American regiments were raised during the Civil War as part of the Union Army, the “Buffalo Soldiers” were established by Congress as the first peacetime all-black regiments in the regular U.S. Army.

Robinson elaborated on his journey regarding the creation of this powerful piece:

Former Historian of Wayne Miner Post 149, Joe Louis Mattox, approached me to write a play about Wayne Miner, the last soldier to die in World War I and to produce it coinciding with the 100 Year Anniversary Celebration of the post, November 2019.  After many intense collaborations with Mr. Mattox it was decided that the title of the play would be, The Buffalo Hero: The Wayne Miner Story. Being a native Kansas Citian, I began my research in The Heart of America. The journey of my research and working with Kansas Citian Historian, Joe Louis Mattox, Rev. Lindon and Sidney Malone has been illuminating. Researching countless articles and books in the K. C. Public Library Missouri Valley Room, The Southeast Library and The Black Archives of Kansas City was exhaustive but rewarding. Further research led me to The Schomburg Center for Social Research in Harlem, New York, The Grand Army Plaza Library and local New York libraries and have certainly been encouraging.  Of course, countless research was also conducted on the internet. It also took me to the London War Museum and to the beautiful St. Mihel Memorial in France where Pvt. Wayne Miner and black soldiers of WWI have found their final resting place. I will never forget the enthusiasm on the coordinators face when we arrived at the St. Mihel Memorial site and I presented her with a Buffalo Soldier 92nd Division Patch and materials from The Wayne Minor Post and explained the celebration to be held in November 2019. In her enthusiasm, she shared that when local schools in France visit the site, she tells them  of the bravery and courage of Pvt. Wayne Miner.

We then discussed Robinson himself:

kentheto

Kenthedo Robinson

 

Tell us about yourself as an artist and educator

There is nothing more rewarding than working with the youth who grow into adulthood and have taken their learning experiences and applied them in life.  The theatre teaches great life  and professional skills:  Analyzing, Collaborating, Researching, Presenting, Planning, etc.  

What drew you to this topic and to Wayne Miner?

Kansas City Historian and my mentor Joe Louis Mattox, once said, “You should write a play about Wayne Miner.”  Because Wayne Miner had a housing project named after him in the Kansas City area,  I quickly replied, “Oh, you want me to write a play about a housing project?”  He immediately began to school me on who Wayne Miner was, much to my embarrassment.  He went on, “Buffalo Soldier Wayne Miner was the last man to sacrifice his life for world democracy in World War I.”  What that experience taught me is that housed behind many buildings we pass each day is a life that should go on living for those who don’t know and for those who have forgotten.

Is the ATA your go-to theater?

ATA is important to me because when I arrived in New York in 1980, it was Jim Jennings, the owner who produced my play, Nicky: The Unknown Man.  It was about an aging Kansas City boxing trainer suffering from concussions from his boxing career as he struggled to keep his gym open for wayward youth.   

You write with more than a hint of spirituality in your work. Explain.

So often we are so busy with life that we don’t stay in tune with that which gives us life, our spirit.  So to strike the right balance, we need to make that connection to God.  God is someone who’s often sitting on the sideline waiting for us to to let him into the game.  If we’re honest, many things boil down to what’s wrong and what’s right and the spirit of God helps us see that.  I’m reminded of my mother often saying, when something seemed confusing or going wrong, “When all the water’s boiled out of the pot, then you’ll see what you got.”  She meant, you can spin your wheels until you can’t go anymore, then you’ll have to turn to the spirit inside to get you going again. Then you’ll have to put some more water (God) into the pot.

What’s next.

Oh, my God! What’s next.  A whole lot.  I have so many “great” ideas about what to write next. We’re coming up on the 250 year anniversary of the death of Crispus Attucks, that would make a great play.  Ever heard of the Triple Nickles? They were the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion from the 92nd Infantry (Buffalo) Division.  That will make a great play.  There’s also naval hero Robert Smalls, a slave, who was so daring against the Confederate Soldiers during the Civil War that President Lincoln recruited him to help enlist fellow African Americans into the Union Army.  Not all of my interest is centered around the military.  There’s also this idea I’ve had for years about writing a play I’ve titled, Ridacee in the City.  The story of Orpheus and Euyridice set to jazz in the 1920’s with Charlie Parker as Orpheus.  Maybe I should stop, because I could go on.  It’s going to come to come to who grabs me by the collar first.  I would bet, probably Crispus Attucks.

The Buffalo Hero opens Thursday, May 9 and running through May 19 (Thurs., May 9 & 16; Fri., May 10 & 17; all at 7:00 p.m.; Sat., May 11 & 18 at 2:00 & 7:00 p.m. and Sun., May 19 at 3:00 p.m.) with tickets available on Brownpapertickets.com. Admission is $25 ($20 Teacher/Student Discount Code: STBH; $20 Senior Citizens Discount Code: SCTBH; $20 Veterans Discount Code: VTBH; Special Mother’s Day Brunch Performance, Sunday, May 12: $40 includes brunch from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. with the performance at 5:00 p.m.).

Contact cpactickets@gmail.com or Kenthedo@gmail.com or 917-523-2823 for further info.

 


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