Chakula cha Jua to perform 1-man show

Photo provided by Ashe Cultural Center -- Growing Up Happu in New Orleans
Photo provided by Ashe Cultural Center -- Growing Up Happu in New Orleans

The Ashe Cultural Arts Center will present Chakula cha Jua in “Growing Up Black (and Happy) In New Orleans… The Life and Times of the Great Chakula,” a one-man-show written, directed and performed by Jua.

Final performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. in New Orleans. Admission is $10.

In the show, retired comedian Chakula cha Jua said he tells his life story on stage, “live and in color.” No names have been changed to protect the guilty, he said.

Tired of viewing TV shows and movies that suggests all black people come from criminal, drug infested, deplorable backgrounds, Jua decided it was time to set the record straight. He could think of no better way to do that than by telling the story of his own “happy” upbringing.

In telling his story, Jua will take the audience on a tour of the segregated New Orleans of the ’50s and early ’60s. Treasured memories will be shared of his early days living in the Calliope Project and attending St. Monica’s school and church.

Other shared memories will include attending Sylvanie F. Williams Elementary School, where he was first introduced to poetry; James Derham Junior High School, where he was first introduced to theater; and Booker T. Washington High School, where he sang and starred in the school’s annual operetta for three years.

The journey continues as Jua recalls four years in the U.S. Air Force and his return to New Orleans, where he said he got involved in “the Black Consciousness Movement of the ’70s”; attending the University of New Orleans; and his encounters with the Free Southern Theater, Ethiopian Theater, Congo Square Writer’s Union, the Alliance for Community Theaters, Ashe and the development of his own company Chakula cha Jua Theater Co.

Through telling his personal stories, Jua hopes to use the production to explore and examine a part of New Orleans history that is seldom presented on local stages.

For information, call (504) 304-0429 or email chakula@juno.com.