CAST BIOS

RICKY TURNER

Ricky  is a mixed-race boy of 20 born to a black father and white mother. His light skin is the target of relentless insults from bigoted neighbors. But his faith and idealism can’t be quelled. He has a vision for a better future – for himself and for his impoverished neighborhood.

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ALICE TURNER

Alice Turner, 55, is a blend of contradictions: a churchgoing woman who was once a hoochie-coochie dancer and amateur blues singer. From time to time, this pious grandmother still shows – often unwittingly — glimpses of her younger, lively side.  with a bit of sexuality, at times. She treads the middle ground between self-righteous and earthy, perhaps still struggling with the pull of her two opposing worlds. She is always ready with a parable or some homespun advice, and she can be sassy when required. Alice adores her grandson Ricky and must be both grandmother and mother to him.

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CASSIUS TURNER

Cassius, 30, is a complicated character. He operates a drug and pimp business which has made him a kingpin in the ghetto. He has ample street smarts and is a shrewd judge of character, even as he uses that knowledge to prey on people. Cassius has charm to spare, but that charm can turn on a dime and he will become sinister.  He is amoral rather than immoral.

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CLAIRE TURNER

Claire, 36, is a white woman who crossed color lines for love, marrying Malcolm Turner, a black man. This transgression earned her pariah status – from her own community and now in Harlem. With the death of her husband in the Vietnam War, Claire is emotionally lost and being consumed by an unrelenting depression. Ehen her brother-in-law Cassius offers her a waitress job at the Venice Lounge, she grabs it. But it only proves the start of greater problems for Claire.

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SCOTT TURNER

Scott, 17, and lives in the shadow of his father Cassius, the neighborhood drug dealer and pimp. He will always be a little boy who craves his daddy’s approval. This unrelenting hero-worship causes Scott to follow in his father’s line of business.  He gets in deep and fast, running drugs and numbers and eventually becoming leader of the neighborhood gang. All the while, Scott secretly admires his cousin Ricky’s fortitude in staying true to himself and to his church work. When Ricky dismisses Scott’s invitation to join the gang, Scott vows revenge on Ricky.

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MARIETTA JOHNSON

Marietta, 17, is the middle girl of the three neighborhood girls who have been friends since childhood. She is neither leader nor complete follower. Her crush on Ricky has percolated for years but she refuses to see that it is one-sided. When an act of careless jealousy by Marietta causes tragic results, she suddenly realizes that she must do everything to make amends — finally growing up in the process.

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JACKIE

Jackie, 17, is the street-smart leader of the group of three neighborhood girls.  A straight shooter with a foul mouth, Jackie has an eye for bad boys. But this adoration for renegades will be challenged when a gang scuffle results in unexpected tragedy.

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ADELE

Adele, 17, can be the least sharp of the neighborhood girls. Therefore, she is easily targeted as the butt of Jackie’s teasing and jokes.  Adele often comes across as naïve. But occasionally she will blurt out an insightful thought, surprising everybody – especially herself.

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PENELOPE HIGHTOWER

Raised in wealthy suburban comfort, Penelope, 21, has rebelled from her origins and embraced the civil rights movement, to the horror of her conservative parents. This stance draws suspicion from both blacks and whites alike, forcing Penelope to prove that she belongs among the poor and the struggling. She may appear a little too exuberant, a little too idealistic, but always admirable in her efforts.

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MILO

Milo, 24, is a rascal; both a political activist and an unbridled hedonist. He came to the anti-war movement to meet flower children. But he became caught up in the battle for social justice in spite of himself and has emerged as an energetic activist. Of course, he always finds time to declare his support for the free love movement.

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REVEREND DUKES AND ENSEMBLE

An older generation of Harlemites, 55 to 75 years of age. Some wear tattered contemporary clothes which mirror the decay of their surroundings. Others wear elegant but careworn clothes from the 1940s and 1950s, still caring about their appearance despite their current struggles with poverty. They are divided between the despairing and the delusional, the optimistic and the resigned. They are not above petty prejudices and gossiping about neighbors, but also manage to bond together in times of strife.

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MARCUS, LOUIS AND ELIJAH
SCOTT’S GANG MEMBERS

Because they are merely followers and not leaders, these boys, 16, 17 and 18, harbor  a deep-seated resentment of Scott — even as they do everything to obey him. They each wait for the time when they can usurp his authority.

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CHERYL, RISA AND LORRAINE
ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS

Stereotypical college liberals, ages 20, 21 and 23, these girls are idealistic and perhaps more enthusiastic than perceptive. They are content to follow the orders of the de facto leader of their group, Penelope.


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