Benjamin Isaiah Black’s production company produces dramatic plays and over-the-top comedy variety shows
Benjamin Isaiah Black has spent more than half his life in theater.
As a kid, Benjamin dreamed of becoming a writer and an actor.
“I watched a lot of television and I wanted to be like those people on the screen that made me laugh so much,” Benjamin says.
Benjamin attended Firestone Community Learning Center where he was able to hone his acting chops. He studied theater at Ashland University and graduated in 2015.
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“When I was in Ashland, I had a lot of opportunities to be able to produce my own content; one man shows, my own radio show for a little while and commercials and promos,” Benjamin says.
Benjamin’s production company, B.I.B. Productions, came to fruition after its play I’m Black Y’all premiered in February 2017 at the Rialto Theatre in Kenmore.
The social issue play was about what it means to be black in America today.
Benjamin can’t pinpoint the exact inspiration behind the play, but he credits the 2013 trial for the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin as one of the reasons why he wanted to write the play.
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Martin was a 17-year-old unarmed black teen who was followed and fatally shot in 2012 by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder, but was acquitted by a jury in part because of Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
“Watching everybody’s reaction and how everything went down in court in 2013 just made me think of where we are as a society, as a people, as a nation,” Benjamin says.
This October, B.I.B. productions will invite audience members into a less serious atmosphere with the second episode of their comedy variety show, The Bro B.I.B. Show.
Ben describes the variety show as being similar to a television show.
“There are different episodes, recurring characters, performers [and] scenes, but instead of watching it on the small screen in the living room, you’re watching it on stage in the theater,” Benjamin says.
The first episode, “A Bro B.I.B. Christmas,” debuted in December 2017. This fall’s episode is titled “The Doppelganger.”
“If I had to say what the show is about, I’d think it’s about a company putting on a show and trying to drive the leader of the show, Bro B.I.B. (played by Benjamin) crazy,” Benjamin says.
The show also includes actors Arieon Dooley, Autumn Jacobs, Taylor Stepp, Demaris Evans, eMJay Ross and Brandon Meeker.
Although the production company is named after Benjamin, he credits his team of actors and friends with helping B.I.B. Productions produce the best content they can.
“B.I.B. productions is growing more and more. I want people to know that it’s not just me,” Benjamin says. “It’s a lot of people and I’m very humble and grateful and blessed to be able to call them not just collaborators but also be able to call them friends.”
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Brandon Meeker, a senior at Firestone Community Learning Center, who plays Chad and Mama Bear in the show, wrote the last scene in “The Doppelganger.”
“It’s really great to be in a show where the cast members can throw out ideas and they’re readily accepted and tried out,” Meeker says.
Audience members should expect to laugh and have a good time at the family-friendly show.
“This is something any and everybody can come to, just kick back, have a good time and laugh,” Benjamin says.
“The Doppelganger” will play at the Rialto Theatre Oct. 12-14 and Oct. 20-21.
Jillian Holness is a recent graduate of Kent State University’s journalism program.
(Photos by Garrick Black of Noire Creative. Used with permission from Benjamin Isaiah Black)