Sonny Bates has a gift that he wants Indianapolis to unwrap.
It’s a poem he wrote called “The Girl in the Poem” that tries to answer the question: what do you do when you fall deeply in love with two people at the same time?
Although the poem is only a few lines long, Bates was inspired by the love triangle he created and decided to turn it into a play.
“The Girl in the Poem” will be showing at the Athenaeum Theatre, 401 E. Michigan St., for two nights, Aug. 27 and 28.
Bates will star in the play as romance poet Cyrus Tower, who in the beginning is happily in love with an aspiring cabaret singer named Natalie Forrester, played by Chicago native Menyone Deveaux, who has had roles in the television series “The Parkers” and the movie “Notorious.” Their close twosome becomes a love triangle when Tower falls for a young poet named Saffron Gilmore.
“The Girl in the Poem” production blends poetry, music, video, dance and drama in what Bates calls a “compelling stage show.” Bates talked with the Recorder in between rehearsals about his inspiration behind the poem and how he is trying to bring live theater to everyone in Indianapolis.
Recorder: Why did you decide to turn “The Girl in the Poem” into a stage play?
Sonny Bates: Once I created the poem I thought it would be a great story to tell about creating a poem about the life of someone. I thought it would be great on stage because it was about art. The story on stage is told through three people who are involved in art so we were able to use dance, music, singing, poetry and visual arts to make the poem come alive on stage.
Who is the girl in the poem?
She’s every woman.
That’s an easy answer.
If you want to know if there is someone specifically in my heart that motivated me, that’s really the truth. It’s every woman because (men) fall in love with different aspects of women.
How were you able to turn a short poem into a full length play?
I had to look at bringing the poet to life. In telling his story, I had to create a couple of women to help bring the poet to life and tell the story of the girl in the poem.
I had to tell the story from a male perspective and I tried to empower women and show their strength despite the choices they make.
We see the relationships develop on stage where in the poem we do not.
Is there a happy ending to the love triangle?
There is a necessary ending meaning that everyone gets an opportunity to be themselves. In the end, you see people making good choices and stand behind those choices even though it may not be the ideal circumstance they want for their selfish self.
What do you hope to add to the Indianapolis art scene through your work?
I want to assist in creating a network of people who are interested in live productions in terms of interpretative dance, poetry and multi-media. There are a plethora of designers in town who are in the beginning stages of learning to those who are at the top and they deserve an opportunity to have their work displayed and promoted.
‘The Girl in the Poem’
If this…is my moment Judged by angels & demons
I want her.
Here is my soul, my wealth, Seven times…take it
But let love live.
I’m calling Gabriel, Lucifer WHY NOT!
If I mistook the asking
In her eyes
Then I lower the guard Of my affection
That she will know
In the eyes of salvation HERE I AM!
Where: Athenaeum Theatre, 401 E. Michigan St.
When: Aug. 27 and Aug. 28
Cost: General admission, $10; VIP/Reception, $25
Tickets are available at the Athenaeum Theatre box office or at SBates Productions, 4435 N. Keystone Ave, Suite 13.