Scott’s “Thoughts” Carry Him on a Theatrical Journey of Discovery and Development

Nov 12, 2019 10:00 AM


Who am I? A central question that we all ask. Playwright and Frostburg State alum Keenan Scott II ’09 chose to take on just that quintessential question from the perspective of today’s black man in his play, Thoughts of a Colored Man, a project born while he was a student at FSU.

A modern-day mix of poetry, music and dance, Thoughts of a Colored Man is about black men from various backgrounds pushing the boundaries of racial and cultural identity to become the best version of themselves.

“I wanted something poetic and emotional. Eventually, my play became a personification of all these emotions,” said Scott.

Scott’s play is now set to debut at Baltimore’s Center Stage this October, but his labor of love has taken years of networking, workshopping and self-production to get there.

“The project started while I was majoring in theatre at FSU. It started as a personal project that I then decided to propose for my senior theatre project,” Scott explained about the origins of his play. “Unlike now, back then, there were very few black contemporary works.”

The play debuted at Frostburg in 2009 as Thoughts of a Colored Man on a Day When the Sun Set Too Early. The work opened with great success, selling out all three nights in roughly two hours. The play was presented at FSU again in 2011 through the sponsorship of the Black Student Alliance.

Once Scott left the Frostburg community, he began networking, attending workshops and festivals to expose his work to audiences and potential producers.

Contacting multiple colleges and universities throughout Maryland, Scott workshopped the piece at Howard University for several years, using various actors from the Howard University Fine Arts Department.

After Howard University, Scott took Thoughts of a Colored Man back to his hometown, New York City. Through more readings, networking and the interest of a particular associate, the piece landed on the desk of Taye Diggs, a renowned American actor known for his roles on stage and screen.

Diggs, looking for a shift in his own career, took note of the play and reached out to Scott. A collaboration ensued that included a reading for alumni at Digg’s alma mater, Syracuse University. Digg’s endorsement of the piece catapulted Thoughts of a Colored Man to the next level, gaining the attention of commercial producers.

“I decided to create my own door rather than knocking on others’,” Scott said about his journey from the stage at Frostburg State to Baltimore’s Center Stage.

Set to debut at Baltimore Center Stage Oct. 10, Thoughts of a Colored Man is co-produced by Brian Moreland of Broadway’s The Lifespan of a Fact and Tony award-winner, Ron Simons, currently producing the Tony-nominated Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations now showing on Broadway.

Scott attributes his current success in part to his Frostburg State roots.

“FSU was integral to this whole process. I was an acting major, not writing or directing,” explains Scott. “The faculty gave me the tools, space and support I needed to step outside of acting. Through that opportunity, I could also direct and produce my original work. I wouldn’t be where I am today if they hadn’t given me the support they did during my time at Frostburg.”