Sunday, June 26, 2022

Mitchell production to address HIV/AIDS

By Tonya Whitaker
NDG Staff Writer

When Dona Gassaway Mitchell finds topics that are relevant to the black community, she allows her pen to bring awareness to the plight.

Her concern for the HIV/AIDS epidemic is addressed in her latest play, Held by His Promise, scheduled for premiere on World AIDS Day, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at St. Luke Community Life Church, 6211 Grand Ave. in Dallas. The play, sponsored in part by Victory Outreach Church of Dallas, is free to the public.

Mitchell, who serves as children and youth drama director for Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, said the intent of this play is to pour her heart out to those who are battling HIV and AIDS.

“When you put your words down on paper and put it on stage you don’t know who you will impact,” Mitchell said. “I know there are people dying of AIDS who will be in attendance. This play will provide spiritual guidance and hope.”

The founder of Dona Gassaway Mitchell Productions said she learned early on that her talents were not for her. Her sole intent is to write plays that benefit others.

“A lot of playwrights don’t write to help others. They write for entertainment or fun. Mine is more for the benefit of others,” said Mitchell, who has been involved in spiritual community outreach programs since 1990.

The premise of Held by His Promise centers on a widowed woman who contracted HIV from her deceased husband. Left to fend for herself and her three children, the protagonist finds difficulty dealing with living with the disease. She wants to give up, but the woman receives a confirmation of hope from her pastor, children and church members.

Johnique Mitchell, LaMondre Johnson, LaRonte Blanche, D.J. Rankin and Victor Villegas star in the play.

Featured in the play are Dallas natives and R&B couple Calvin Yarbrough and Alisa Peoples, best known for their early 80s hit Don’t Stop The Music. Yarbrough will play brother George, while Peoples will star as sister Sara. The play also features the Concord Church GenXtreme Drama and Mime Ministry.

This is not Mitchell’s first play to feature celebrities. A Family’s Worth, another production concerning HIV and AIDS, starred Irma P. Hall, who played Mama Joe in the movie Soul Food.

A pre-show is planned for 6 p.m. David W. Carter Band, drill team, twirlers and other local talent are slated to perform. Free HIV tests will be available to those who are interested, Mitchell said. Host for the event is Clif Caldwell, and the scheduled spokesperson is CBS 11 personality Ranee Adams.

For more information about the play, call Mitchell at 972-748-4648.

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