The time Booker T. Washington dined at the White House and the nation went nuts

In 'Torn' by John Becker, the AmaZing Theatre Company brings the iconic conflict to life. 

By Roslyn “Roz” Ward 

During quarantine, the biggest loss is the people. The feeling and energy that one gets from a live audience cannot be replicated virtually. Torn—a play written and directed by John Becker in a staged and filmed production by Alice and Perry Thomas’s AmaZing Theatre Company—mirrors the social upheaval the world is going through at the moment.

We as actors and creators are “torn” between live performances and virtual performances. For The AmaZing Theatre Company, they are “torn” between making art and making a living. As artists, how are we to choose? We all have a need to express ourselves creatively. Our lives are intertwined with passion, commitment, sensations, emotions, grit, persistence, and patience—and now a pandemic. 

‘Torn’ is based on the inspirational and complex life of Booker T. Washington. Produced as a “stage flick” (staged and filmed), the play reveals Washington’s relationship with President Theodore Roosevelt, and the dinner at the Washington House that changed the social climate of America.

Crime, mental health, and domestic violence cases have  risen since the pandemic. The  limitation put on people, not being able to release their frustrations, has caused a spike in the world’s negative energies. Not having an outlet can be dangerous to the future of artists. The AmaZing Theatre is not only feeling the strain from the pandemic, but is also struggling to keep the company from closing. The newest play Torn, written by Maryland native John Becker, could be the AmaZing Theatre’s launch to artistic abundance. 

Torn is a play about activist Booker T. Washington and his rise to greatness, which was far from a  smooth journey. The AmaZing Theatre Company  and John have done an outstanding job in bringing to life a story of a historical African American leader. 

The cast of ‘Torn.’

Becker captures the history, complexities, and nuances of Booker T’s era. Becker, along with an outstanding cast of performers, gives us a glimpse into what a fraction of the life of Booker T. Washington was like; and in doing so, not only entertains the audience but also informs, enlightens, and hopefully motivates us to make change in the world. For many of us, we are torn everyday with major decisions. Our decisions may or may not shape another’s life, but seeing the world (even for a moment) through the eyes of someone else might elevate our way of thinking. Booker T. Washington did just that, and John Becker and The AmaZing Theatre Company brought the icon to life. 

Torn premieres February 6, 2021, and continues on Saturdays and Sundays February 13 to 28. All performances are at 7 pm ET. Tickets are on sale at the AmaZing Theatre Company website


Roslyn “Roz” Ward

Roslyn “Roz” Ward is an American-born actress working and living in the DMV. Roz has worked for a number of theater companies in the area for the past 15 years. Roz was a member of “Quest: Arts for Everyone” traveling visual theater company, consisting of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and hearing performers. In addition to being fluent in American Sign Language, Roz possesses a myriad of artistic skills: writing,  dialects, signing, yoga, stage combat, and martial arts. Roz’s credits include Pride and Prejudice (Lady Catherine),  Tartuffe (Madame Pernelle), and Hamlet (Osric/Player Queen). REGIONAL: As You Like It (Celia), Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hermia). INTERNATIONAL: Alice (Alice/Queen of Hearts), Mosaic (Ensemble member), Evita (Evita), Supernatural (Constance).

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