Kyle Hunt isn’t going to trade the hardwood for the boards, that is to say, basketball for theater. But when the 28-year-old, who started One Ball Basketball, a nonprofit program for youth, was asked to perform, he didn’t hesitate to say yes.
Hunt plays the judge in “50 Shades of Womanhood: The Burden of Proof,” an original production written and directed by Jennifer Primous in honor of, not Women’s History Month, but what she calls Women’s Month. It will be performed 7 p.m. Friday at the Gary & Janice Podesto Impact Teen Center. Admission is free.
“I won’t say it’s changed me, but it has brought back my focus of how powerful women are,” Hunt said. “Those women at rehearsal are similar to how my kids are. Everybody’s role is so meaningful, no matter how big or strong or powerful you think it is. If you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, the other woman can’t do what she’s supposed to do. Everybody has a role. That’s the most it’s showed me. Not only in this play, but anything we do in this world. We all have value. It made me think of my mom, and maybe stories she hasn’t shared with me. Any women can relate to these stories. It makes me realize how strong women are.”
Primous, who nearly four years ago founded P.U.M.P.S For Women (purpose, uplifting, mentoring, positivity and sisterhood), a sorority dedicated to the empowerment of women, has twice staged “For Colored Girls” as a P.U.M.P.S. production.
This is the second show she’s written and “75 percent of it is my own stories,” Primous said.
'50 Shades of Womanhood: The Burden of Proof'
What: Original stage play about women and the stories of their lives, written by Jennifer Primous, performed by Donna Marie, Melissa Cook, Dana Williams, Jazlyn Paul, Ashley Lynn, Juanita Timberlake, Chinse Daniels and Tamesha Valverde, Thea James and Kyle Hunt
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Podesto Impact Teen Center, 725 N. El Dorado St., Stockton
“(Eight) women are accused of various crimes. It takes place in a courtroom. Their burden of proof is to share their stories, prove their case,” Primous explained. “They do it with a mixture of dialogue and monologue.”
Subjects range from serious — molestation by a father — to humorous — the complexities of relationships.
The essence of the play is the final monologue.
“It’s about a woman who takes her own life,” Primous said. “She’s dealing with issues at home, she’s lost a child. The women talk about how we go through life knowing women but don’t take time to talk to them, we don’t say hello.
“What I want with this play is for women to understand how important we are together. Regardless of our history, what we’re dealing with right now, the most important thing is being an asset in each other’s life.”
A single child, Primous was brought up in a bountiful family of aunts, uncles and cousins. Her grandmother gave birth to 14 children, 12 of them girls. Her mother was the youngest, 22 years younger than the eldest.
Through the extended family she witnessed marriage, birth, divorce. She learned about sex from them, not on the streets.
“I feel fortunate to have that kind of support group, community around me,” Primous said. “Some are not that fortunate. I feel that’s my life’s purpose, to help help other women go through these things. That’s why my grandmother had so many children, so many bossy women.”
The single mom of an 8-year-old son, Primous, who works as an eligibility worker for the county’s welfare program, isn’t exactly bossy, but she knows what she wants. With directing assistance from her high school director, Val Acoba, Primous has managed to encourage woman to perform in her shows. And Hunt.
“Jen and I have a history due to the program I run,” Hunt said. “She has been very gracious with her time and resources in helping me further along my aspirations, so it was kind of a no-brainer for me to give back to her and help her with something she’s passionate about.”
Giving back is something he learned growing up in Michigan in a family of educators. His mother finally decided Hunt needed to move out and make the most of his talents, so he moved to California, where some of his uncles have run a nonprofit football program in San Jose for more than 25 years. Hunt joined them but eventually moved to Stockton and attended San Joaquin Delta College and California State University, Stanislaus, where he earned a degree.
He started his basketball program for youth a couple years ago and works for University of the Pacific as a behavior specialist in the psychology department. He’s not ready to audition for more parts, but Hunt has enjoyed working on this play, which touched him.
“You can laugh on some of the aspects of the play,” Hunt said. “I think you’re going to be moved. Especially for men, I think you’re going to cherish those women that are in your life more. You’ll be more conscious of things you may say or things you may do. Women go through a lot. The big takeaway is their voice should be felt and should be heard. They should not be afraid to say what their truth is.”
— Contact reporter Lori Gilbert at (209) 546-8284 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @lorigrecord.