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Flying This Thing Alone Makes it’s Debut and Receives Rave Reviews!

By Sienna Miller



On the nights of December 17th and 18th, the stage play, Flying This Thing Alone written and directed by Crystal Rae Wiley, debuted inside of the Abilene Christian University Williams Performing Arts Center. There was a nice crowd on both evenings and the production received rave reviews. “This was the best play that I’ve seen here in Abilene!” said attendee and former Abilene resident Alesia Gayle McDaniel. After each performance Crystal Wiley and her cast, opened up the floor for a question and answer session pertaining to the play. The inquiries and statements were directed toward the cast and performers who participated in the play. “I completely enjoyed reading for and performing in Flying This Thing Alone.” said actor Robert Lilly. “It was an honor to learn with, and from Crystal and my cast members.” adds Lilly.{{more}} Three of the five talented participants in the play are students at Abilene Christian University: David Owens from Atlanta Georgia, Haley Carter of Dallas Texas, and Robert Lilly originally from Harlem New York. Crystal Rae Wiley who grew up in Chicago Illinois is an ACU graduate. Wiley’s two siblings and nephew accompanied her parents Ray and Darreather Wiley and a host of other relatives here to Abilene. They flew in and were present for the First debut of Flying This Thing Alone. Crystal graduated from Abilene Christian University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre with an emphasis in Acting and Directing. The fifth performer was songstress Alivia Simmons of Abilene Texas, a 16 yr old Abilene High School Student. She both opened and closed the show with her melodious voice. The play consisted of four primary characters. Multi-talented is she, Crystal Wiley not only wrote and produced this play, but she acted in it as well, playing the Lead Character Amelia. Wiley, acted, sang and even performed a monologue. Often times in the script, she was called Mel or Meli. Amelia’s mother named her after the late Amelia Earheart. She played a young girl who was born with what is referred to as a Caul on her face at birth. A Caul has been known to have special powers when a child is born with this thin layer of skin. Rowen, Amelia’s father, wasACU Student David Owens of Atlanta Georgia who played Cory in the play, converses with the crowd about his role. Photo by Sienna Miller played by Mr. Robert T. Lilly. Rowen was attempting to reconnect with his daughter Amelia, in order to communicate with his deceased wife who passed while giving birth to Amelia. Rowen believed in connecting with his late wife by any means necessary, like superstitious rituals and communicating with the spiritual world as well as making frequent trips to her grave. When this failed he saw his daughter as the only thing he had left. G.G., who was Amelia’s grandmother and Rowen’s Mother-in-Law and also whom Amelia lived with, was played by Miss. Haley Carter. G.G. was a somewhat religious woman. Her job was to protect Amelia from any one or thing, she felt might cause Amelia harm. She was known for getting into brawls with the local church folk inside of her congregation. Comically keeping a knife by her side, but not being afraid to use it all at the same time. The fourth character Cory, played by Mr. David Owens, played a key role in Amelia’s life. Cory was Amelia’s close friend and a love interest who happened to be crazy about her. Cory stepped in wherever and whenever he could be there for Amelia on her journey helping her navigate through it all.The play, Flying This Thing Alone was originally written by Crystal in 2005. December 17th at 7:00 pm was its first showing. A pivotal moment in Flying This Thing Alone came through the form of a monologue where Amelia was talking out loud to her deceased mother at her grave site. Amelia was questioning why her mother had given her the name Amelia. “You know out of everything Amelia ACU Student Miss Haley Carter of Dallas Texas played the 60 something year old Grandmother named G.G. in Flying This thing Alone. Photo by Sienna Millerdid, the only thing anyone remembers is that she disappeared! I don’t wanna’ disappear,” said Amelia. Her father Rowen, at that time, steps in and surprises Amelia. He says, “You won’t. I promise.” An interesting twist of events occurred on and after the play’s first night. In reality, the next day’s Dec. 18, 2010 headline news reported that the real Amelia Earhart’s remains were believed to have been found on a foreign island. Coupled with those bones there, were also uncovered a mirror from a woman’s compact, buttons and a zipper from a flight jacket during their $500,000 expedition in 2007. All of the found items are American-made and from the 1930’s — and all were part of Earhart’s inventory. According to researchers at Tighar and GMA’s Website article written on Dec. 18th, 2010 by Kevin Dolak and Christina Caron. These remains have been sent off for DNA testing and could take up to months before a revelation can be made. It will be interesting to see what all comes of this recent finding.“A Place For Us Productions, was birthed out of frustration.” Says Wiley. She mentions after telling that she did not get a place in the Lion King play and headed back here to Abilene. “I love West Texas,} stated Wiley. She adds. “…but there are few avenues of artistic expression and I needed a place.” Crystal mentions that after careful thought, she realized that there were a lot of other people who also needed a place. “It would have to be created.” commented Wiley. She believes in the old adage that one should bloom where they’re planted. “…West Texas could use a couple more Wildflowers, don’t you think?” she laughingly adds.A Place For Us Productions has been designed by Crystal Rae Wiley in effort to restore cultural awareness and expression through the arts in particular for the African American population as that ACU Graduate Crystal Wiley speaks to and greets some of the attendees of her first stage production afterward.) Photo by Sienna Millerparticular venue has not been aggressively tapped here in Abilene until now. “This play is a testimony to what Africa People can do, when we collectively share in a dream, becoming a reality!” added actor Robert Lilly. He said, “We should anticipate more from A Place for Us Productions.” Crystal Wiley tells this, “A Place for Us Productions seeks to bring to stage and someday film original works with heart, while giving local artists opportunities to sharpen and develop their skills.” If you missed the first showings of Flying This Thing Alone by Crystal Rae Wiley this past December, then mark your calendars for June 19, 2011. This play will be an integral part of this year’s Juneteenth Celebration. When asked about her thoughts on her First Production on This Level, Wiley had this to say, “I really could not have asked for a better first showing. The audience was so receptive and open. The entire experience was a blessing.” Wiley goes on to state that she looks forward to performing this play on stage more in the future.

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