A TOO HEAVY Goodbye: Closing thoughts from Ayanna Bria Bakari

Ayanna Bria Bakari

It’s with a heavy heart that we are saying goodbye to Too Heavy for your Pocket, closing out our 22nd season on June 29. Earlier during the run, we met the four actors bringing this story to life, and here at the end after a 10-week run, we’re catching up with the same extraordinary folks to see what’s changed between then and now.

Here are a few final thoughts with Ayanna Bria Bakari, who portrays Evelyn Brandon.

What is your favorite part about portraying this character? 

The roller coaster of emotions she goes through. Evelyn is perceived to be tough and independent, but you realize she is just as frightened as everyone. She expresses it differently, but is terrified of losing Bowzie all the same.

What’s your favorite moment in the play?

My favorite moment is the revival scene. We have so much fun and we get so rowdy. It’s a wild time, and the most fun we get to have in the show before the sadness of Act 2.

In TimeLine’s 99-seat space, the audience is never more than a few feet from the action. How does being in such an intimate space affect your engagement with the audience?

Best friends Evelyn (Ayanna Bria Bakari) and Sally-Mae (Jennifer Latimore) connect with one another.

This space can be wonderful and very frustrating at times. Wonderful when the audience is truly engaged, and on the edge of their seats with us following the play and are activated in a positive way. Frustrating when the audience is not engaged and knowingly disrupting the performance with a snack, inappropriate outbursts or not turning their phones off. As the performer, I must adapt and let the positive feedback further inform my work on stage and ignore the ignorance / arrogance of disconnected audiences.

Performing for the people this play was intended for, gave me a sense of pride that was so powerful. I’ll never forget. They were with us every step of the way.

What has been your favorite or most unique audience reaction you’ve heard to this show?

My favorite experience was the June 15th two-show day. The audience for both shows were filled with black people as the majority! For the first time I felt like the show had the energy that we’d been craving since the beginning. Performing for the people this play was intended for, gave me a sense of pride that was so powerful. I’ll never forget. They were with us every step of the way. There wasn’t a beat missed or a joke not met with roaring laughter.

What’s it like backstage? Any weird backstage shenanigans we should know about?

BOYS BARS!! Backstage is a great blend of silly and focused energy. Once I get that 15-minute call, don’t speak to me LOL. I’m trying really hard not to get a run in my tights at that point. Jennifer is bullet journaling and the men are rapping. Everyone’s got their pre-show rituals that aren’t disturbed. And don’t get me started on the amount of food and snacks that are back there, THIS CAST EATS!!!

What are you going to miss most after closing this show on June 29?

Acting with this ensemble, and all the routines we’ve created together. All the hidden moments and secrets we’ve planted in the show and rediscovering this world every night.

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