Set in a Chicago foster home, this play details the life of a young man born into a wealthy, married family until he loses everything in the face of sudden tragedy. Yet “his voice in the home changes how people see God,” Gallion said in a telephone interview. It’s a story of losing faith in the midst of suffering and finding it again. It inspires a feeling of “reconciliation” and “not taking anything for granted.”
The play also addresses a prominent and timely issue in Chicago: violence inflicted on innocent children fallen victim to crossfire. Gallion, 29, born in the K-Town neighborhood (Kostner, Keeler, Kilpatrick) on Chicago’s West Side and raised in Uptown, said that his writing was influenced by conversations he had with parents who have lost a child (and their faith) to the violence of the street. Specifically, he remembers the case of Derrion Albert—a Chicago teenager who was beaten death in 2009 after being caught in a brawl at Fenger High School on the far South Side.
A graduate of Lakeview High School, Gallion played Division I NCAA basketball at Chicago State University, which led to a Nike commercial and a budding career as a model. He then became a spokesman for the FESUP clothing line, according to his web site. He has also been a model with the Ebony Fashion Fair.
A goal of R&J Productions is to create theatre that speaks to issues that resonate today. Boateng said he wants audiences to “get something out of it.”
Boateng partnered with Gallion after he witnessed the writer-actor’s first production, Living Without Love, a semi-autobiographical story about growing up fatherless.
“I believe in his story lines and his work,” Boateng said. “This is a new adventure for me.”
“He loved what he saw and wanted to invest with my vision,” Gallion said of Boateng, his partner and executive producer. Boateng raises much of the funding for the theater company while also working his day job at Dominick’s.
Like R&J’s other plays, Voice of a Child includes local actors, Keeland Ellis, David Holmes, Djemi Travis as well as Gallion. Some of them were seen in the 2010 feature film, Black Butterfly, about an aspiring women’s swim team member dealing with the aftereffects of rape. Voice of a Child also features Chicago comedian, Alonzo “P.K.” Ruffin, whom Gallion calls a mentor.
Voice of a Child will be performed only once: on Saturday, April 20 at 7 p.m. in the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is $15, $20 if purchased after February. V.I.P tickets are $25 and $30 respectively. Visit richardgallion.com or call 773-653-7424 for tickets or for more information.
Written by Ethan Ross,
StreetWise Editorial Intern