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Baltimore Bishop And Playwright Aims To Bring Redemption To The Stage

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The cycle of violence in Baltimore has shown no signs of ceasing but the cast of Redemption's Last Call: The Reboot hopes their play can help turn the tide.

The play is based on a book of stories about life on the streets of Baltimore.

Now, the cast and crew of the play want to bring those stories to life on the stage at Morgan State University's Murphy Fine Arts Center to incite change across the city.

"We wanna save our city the best way we know how—by giving our talents," Bishop Charles Carrington Jr. said.

Carrington wrote the book after Freddie Gray's death and the chaos that erupted across Baltimore in 2015.

"Now, after almost eight years—300-plus murders every year—it's time to put the call out there again," he said.

Carrington is striving to remind the city of its capacity for redemption. He said he saw it first hand along with 200 other pastors amid the tumult that broke out the day of Freddie Gray's funeral.

"Glass was everywhere at the corner of Monroe and North," he said. "We knelt down between the riot police from another jurisdiction and about a thousand people that were protesting, yelling, threatening the police, saying come on and bring it."

Carrington said they went down to the melee with 200 people and returned to New Shiloh Baptist Church with 1,500 people.

He turned the book into a play in 2020 and is now reviving that production with this cast, all of whom were born and raised in Baltimore. 

"They go completely out of themselves, and tap into something so real, so genuine, that you don't even realize you're sitting in front of a stage production," Carrington said.

For cast member Julio "the entertainer," that "something real" is rooted in years of being a gang member and selling drugs—particularly the day he got shot.

"I was laying down on that ground," Julio said. "They took me to the hospital, and God spoke to me. He said, 'Do you wanna live or do you wanna die?' And I just closed my eyes and found my redemption."

As art imitates the life of Julio and many others across Baltimore, the cast of the play hopes life will imitate their art.

"A second chance is not only possible, but you deserve a second chance," director Arrona Carroll said.

The cast of Redemption's Last Call: The Reboot will perform Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night.

Theater patrons should be prepared for a high level of audience participation. Cast or crew may bring them on stage or take them backstage.

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