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Rod Ambrose

Rod Ambrose

Program Development, Trainer

Rod Ambrose is a Prevention Education Coordinator with the City of Phoenix Parks & Recreation Department where he has been employed 19 years. He offices at the South Phoenix Youth Center where he Supervises PROJECT BRAVE a program that provides life skills and violence prevention workshops at local elementary, middle schools & high schools throughout the valley.

In 1997 the First Offender Program Facilitated by Ambrose was cited by the Ann E. Casey foundation as a Best Practices model and one of the top 25 programs of its type in the United States.

He has served as Chairman of the Advisory Board to the Juvenile Court, proudly served as a member of the Advisory Council to the State of Black Arizona, past Vice-Chairman of the Arizona Life Skills Center, currently serves on the Board of George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center and he is the current Chairman of the dynamic South Mountain WORKS Coalition; (Working to Build Opportunities, Resources, Knowledge & Skills) in order to assist with the education & empowerment of the citizens of south mountain in the reduction of the underage drinking of alcohol and other drugs illegal to children and teens. Among his many citations, in 2010 Ambrose received a “Living History Award” from the AZ Chapter of the Links.

In 2006 a ‘Living Legends Award’ from the Student Alumnus at Phoenix Community College. And in 1999 he received the Calvin C. Goode ’Lifetime Achievement Award’ from the City of Phoenix Human Relations Commission. In his civilian life he is known affectionately as Brother Rod, Mister “Rod” and even Professor Rod; but he is best known as simply Rod Ambrose and for the powerful roles that he has portrayed on stage for nearly 43 years at our own beloved Black Theater Troupe.

 

Rod Ambrose: Performance Background (1965 to 2014)

Partial Listing of Performances & Directors’ Projects

The purpose of the following list is to serve as an outline of Plays, public showcases and presentations performed through out a career that has spanned 42 years. It should be noted that there are several special categories when the creative arts were inculcated to provide Heritage and Behavioral Health Education for special populations such as; during the Black College Student Program of the National Urban League in 1970. “The Me Nobody Knows” a children’s creative writing workshop & performance series that returned intermittently over a 25 year period, the Jack & Jill Inc. “Beautillion” a biennial rites of passage program for African American teen males between 1977 & 1997, the S.H.A. Patrol (Students for Health Awareness) program of the late 1980’s and the current “BRAVE Performance Studio” showcases with the City of Phoenix BRAVE Project which began in the fall of 2005.

Presentations from 1965 thru 1970

April 1965 > @ aged 15 years

First Live Presentation of “I Have a Dream” speech @ city wide Oratorical Competition in Chicago Illinois / Finished First Place

October, 1966 > @ age 16 years

Played Mark Anthony in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” @ Lindblom Technical High School

February, 1969 > @ age 19 years

Played ‘Big Shot’ in “The Toilet” by Leroi Jones (Imamu Baraka)

May, 1969 >

Played an extra in “The Great White Hope” movie on the life of legendary heavyweight Boxing Champion Jack Johnson (played by James Earl Jones)

November, 1969 >

Played ‘Walter Lee Younger’ in Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin In the Sun”@ the Neighborhood House on 7th street

January, 1970 > @ 20 years of age

Presented Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech before 20 middle school, high school & College Student audiences.

February, 1970 >

Performed recital of “The Creation” by James Weldon Johnson @ the Community Recognition Awards @ Phoenix Urban League

Performances Between 1971 & 1976

June, 1971 > @ age 21 years

Facilitated Summer Creative Writing workshops & Staged showcases “The Me Nobody Knows” for youth in the National Urban League program in Tulsa Oklahoma (Alfrie Woodard was my Stage manager!)

September, 1971 >

Directed & performed in “The Electronic Nigger” by Ed Bullins @ Arizona State University

November/ December, 1971>

Played, Yang Sun in “The Good Woman of Setzuan” by Bertolt Brecht

@ Phoenix Community College

January, 1971 >

The “I Have a Dream” speech at 25 local middle, high schools & community college campuses

February, 1971 >

Directed & performed a live book review of award winning best seller “To Be A Slave” by Julius Lester @ Arizona State University

May/ June, 1971 >

Directed & performed in “On Being Hit” by Clay Goss @ Phoenix College

June 19, 1971 >

Recital of excerpts from the Emancipation Proclamation @ East Lake Park

The Emperor Jones” by Eugene O’Neal, Directed by Ralph Norton @ ASU Lyceum; Played the Emperor

October, 1971 >

The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail” Directed by Larry Soller @ Bon’s Hall Phoenix College, played escaping slave

January, 1972 >

The “I Have Dream” speech at 25 local elementary, middle & high school campuses (Would continue annual tour speaking @ 9 to 15 schools per year til 2010)

April / May, 1972 >

The Fantastiks” produced by the Black Theater Troupe at the Civic Plaza Played the role of ‘El Gallo’

October / November, 1972 >

A Day of Absence” by Douglas Turner Ward @ Mesa Out Back Theater

Played the Mayor

January / February, 1973 >

Shoes” by Ted Shine @ Memorial Hall Directed by Rod Ambrose @ Phoenix College & ASU during Black Heritage Month

April / May, 1973 >

Sheep on the Runway” directed by, Larry Soller @ Bons Hall / Phoenix College. Played ‘The Prince of Nepal’

September / October, 1973 >

Ceremonies in Dark Old Men” scripted by, Lonnie Elder @ Black Theater Troupe, Directed by Rod Ambrose

January / February, 1974 >

Sizwe Bansi Is Dead” scripted by Athol Fugard, Directed by Rod Ambrose @ Arizona State University / played the role of Buntu

October / November, 1974 >

The Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd” Directed by John Paul at Phoenix College / Bons Hall, played the role of ‘The Black’

January, 1975 >

The Mystery of Black American History” Researched, Scripted & Directed by Rod Ambrose @ the Neighborhood House on 7th street

February, 1975 >

What the Wine Sellers Buy” Directed by Wade Marshall @ Black Theater Troupe

April, 1975 >

Othello” written by William Shakespeare, directed by Daniel Witt @ ASU performed the role of the ‘Moor’ in 7 classical scenes

October 1975 >

Sizwe Bansi Is Dead” written by, Athol Fugard, directed by Rod Ambrose @ the Perra Club

December, 1975 >

Black Nativity” written by, Langston Hughes, directed by Rod Ambrose @ Black Theater Troupe

January, 1976 >

The Youth in Search of Truth” the poetic works of children performed live, Directed by Rod Ambrose

February / March, 1976 >

All Power to the People” adapted by Rod Ambrose from “Los Vendidoes”, a one act play by Luis Valdez, directed by Reggie Colbert @ Phoenix College

Performances between 1977 & 1982

In addition to the following showcase Rod served as Director for 12 one act plays on KDKB Radio the last Thursday of every month.

Ain’t it a Wonderment” Conceived by Black Theater Troupe, scripted & directed by Rod Ambrose / later Staged @ Symphony Hall by Kenneth Daugherty

May, 1977 >

The first Beautillion “I AM SOMEBODY” conceived by young men, scripted and directed by, Rod Ambrose @ the Hyatt Regency

Sizwe Bansi Is Dead” by, Athol Fugard, directed by Rod Ambrose at ASU Memorial Hall, played Sizwe, produced by newly formed ‘Peculiar Institution Theater Ensemble’

September 1978 >

In the Wine Time” written by, Ed Bullins, Directed by Kenneth Daughtery @ Black Theater Troupe, played role of Cliff

November / December, 1978 >

The Black Terror” written by, Richard Wesley, directed by Andrea Frye Nesbit

Played role of ‘Geronimo’ @ Black Theater Troupe

April / May, 1979 >

Slow Dance on the Killing Ground” directed by, Daniel Witt @ Scottsdale Stagebrush Theater. Played role of ‘Randle’

October / November, 1979 >

The Black Terror” written by, Richard Wesley, Directed by Andrea Frye Nesbit @TOBA West Theater in Los Angeles, California (Recognized in the Holly wood Dramalogue as ‘Best New Actor’)

January / February 1980 >

Jesus Christ Superstar” (Revisited from the Black Perspective) classical Rock Opera written by Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber @ Christian Fellowship Church. Vocal Direction by Sonja Campbell, Musical Direction by Brenda Hankins, directed by, Rod Ambrose

Juneenth / August 1980 >

A Hero Ain’t Nothing But A Sandwich” from the novel by Alice Childers, Rod Ambrose adapted and directed Reader’s theater style @ Rio Salado, Glendale & Phoenix Colleges

November / December 1980 >

Simply Heavenly” written by Langston Hughes, Directed by Kenneth Daughtery @ Black Theater Troupe, played role of ‘Watermelon Joe’

April / May, 1981 >

Streamers” written by, David Rabb @ Scottsdale Stagebrush Theater, directed by Ralph Norton. Played role of Private Carlisle (Received Best Actor Award)

October / November, 1981 >

Amen Corner” written by James Baldwin, directed by Kenneth Daughtery. Played role of ‘Jazz man Father’

February / March, 1982 >

Roshomon” a classical Asian Tale, directed by, Kenneth Daughtery @ BTT. Played the ‘Wig Maker’

September / October, 1982 >

Boesman & Lena” written by Athol Fugard, directed by Buddy Butler @ BTT

Played role of ‘Boesman’

Performances between 1983 & 1988

February, 1983 >

Sunset At Campobello” classical story about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Played role of the Man Servant @ the Mesa Gas Light Theater

September, 1984 thru 1988 >

Wrote & directed a series of stagings surrounding issues or topics pertinent to the Nation of Islam they were as follows:

The Fall of America (excerpts from the writings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad interpolated with live scenes, songs & dance)

Assisted in producing a classical Multi- Media performance scripted & performed by Mother Tynetta Muhammad entitled; “Music, Color & Medicine for the Healing of Our Nations” @ South Mountain Community College

Moses Travels in Search of Knowledge” featured live staging of excerpts from the Holy Quran, emphasized co-relationships between moral development, spiritual degeneracy and the wisdom of the ancients

February, 1987 >

The Great Paul Robeson” Emmy Award winning one man play written by, Professor Phillip Hayes Dean. Directed by Linda Gravatt. Played the role of ‘Paul’ and portrayed seventeen characters in the demanding unfolding story line of the show. Opened @ Black Theater Troupe in February, @ Stage Brush Theater in Scottsdale in May @ Eastern Arizona College in Greenlee County in September and in late October of 1989 opened @ the Martin Luther King Jr Performance Arts Center in down town Columbus Ohio.

February, 1989 >

As the opening act for Gil Scott Heron @ the Scottsdale Center for the performing Arts, recital of “The Ugly Contest” written by Langston Hughes

Performances from 1990 to 2000

February, 1990 >

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” an urban love story with classical original R&B music. Scripted & directed by Rod Ambrose. Became an extremely popular local favorite!

April, 1991 >

Once On This Island” a Broadway musical classic, @ the Phoenix Little Theater, played role of Ton -Ton Julian.

September / November 1991 >

Zooman and the Sign” Directed by Rod Ambrose @ South Mountain Community College. Opened at Glendale Community College in February of 1992. Opened at Rio Salado Community College in April of 1992.

February/ May 1993 >

The Mighty Gents” written by Richard Wesley, directed by Gus Edwards at South Mountain Community College and the Black Theater Troupe. Played role of the old Wino.

The Great Frederick Douglass” written & directed by Allen Prewitt @ The Phoenix Little Theater Children’s Cookie Company. Played the role of old Frederick

January / February 1994 >

He Called it A Dream, But it Woke us UP!!!” written & directed by Rod Ambrose with local youth choir

July / 1994 >

What to the American Slave is your 4th of July?” Rod Ambrose performs the legendary speech of Frederick Douglass

September / 1994 >

Help Me Make it Through the Night” poems & vignettes about finding romance and losing love Conceived & Directed by, Rod Ambrose

February 1995 >

A Native Son” Excerpted from the writing of Richard Wright, Directed by Rod Ambrose

May / 1995 >

Malcolm X…Spoke. Who Listened?” Passages from the poem by Haki Madhabuti, excerpts from Malcolm’s speeches. Performed & directed by Rod Ambrose

December / 1996 >

The Best Xmas Pageant Ever!!!” Final season of Saturday’s Children at the Black Theater Troupe, directed by, Rod Ambrose

May / October 1997 >

FAME” 2000 at Phoenix Center for the Arts, directed by Rod Ambrose

Emerging Young Leaders” (20th year of the BEAUTILION)

A theme by Jack & Jill Inc. Conceived & Directed by Rod Ambrose

December / 1998 >

Zoot Suit” by Luis Valdez at Phoenix Center for the Arts, directed by, Rod Ambrose

Thou Shalt Not Steal” (From Shoplifting to Stop lifting) A training documentary Conceived by Rod Ambrose & directed by Mary Jo West

May / 2000 >

Grandmas’ Hands” (A Mother’s Day tribute from the children) Poems, pantomime and monologues, conceived & directed by, Rod Ambrose

February / March 2000 >

God’s Trombones” (Seven sermons in verse) by, James Weldon Johnson,

Directed by David Hemphill, Featuring Rod Ambrose at Herberger Theater Center

October 31st / 2000 >

The Raven” (Literary Classic by Edgar Allen Poe) Recital by Rod Ambrose on Halloween night at Kerr Studios in Scottsdale

November / 2000 >

Joe Turner Come and Gone” (Literary classic by August Wilson)

Directed by, Kenneth Daugherty, featuring, Kwane Vedreen & Rod Ambrose

January / February 2002 >

Fraternity” by, Jeff Stetson, Directed by Anthony Rumfolo at Herberger Theater Center, featuring Charles Sinclair and Rod Ambrose

February / March 2003 >

The Gospel at Colonus” by, Lee Breuer, composed by Bob Telson and directed by Jared Sakren, Rod Ambrose played Preacher/Narrator at Herberger Theater Center

February 2004 >

The African Company Performs King Richard the III”, directed by, Jared Sakren, featuring Rod Ambrose

January / February 2005 >

Freedom Summer” (A love story set during the civil Rights Movement) by Spencer Howard, directed by, Rod Ambrose, vocals by, Sonja Campbell

February / March 2006 >

Black Poetry, Past, Present and Future” (Anthology researched and scripted by, Leah Marche’) featuring Rod Ambrose performing “Niggas are scared of revolution!” by The Last Poets

February / March 2007 >

East Texas Hot Links”

March / 2008 >

Ma Rainys’ Black Bottom” (an August Wilson play) Directed by, David Hemphill, featuring Mike Taylor, Kwane Vedrene & Rod Ambrose at John Paul Theater at Phoenix College

March / 2009 >

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” (A choreo-poem by, Ntozaki Shange) directed by Rod Ambrose at Kerr Studios

February / 2009 >

A Lesson Before Dieing” Directed by Ed Harris, featuring Rod playing Reverend Ambrose at Playhouse on the Park

Winners Have Yet to Be Announced” (Based on the book by Dr. Ed Pavolic about Donny Hathaway), directed by Rod Ambrose

February / 2010 >

Stories About the Old Days” Directed by, David Hemphill, featuring DeAngelis Grisby & Rod Ambrose at Playhouse on the Park

May / 2010 >

Cool Like That” (Story of legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis), adapted to stage from his autobiography by Rod Ambrose and featuring Billy Ramsey at the Rhythm Room

August / 2010 >

The Me Nobody Knows” Conceived & Directed by Rod Ambrose, creative stage design & Production Management by Lu Rodriguez with writings, dance, music by youth and teen participants from 11 city park & recreation sites at the Orpheum Theater downtown Phoenix (Over 100 performers onstage)

October / 2010 >

Float Like a Butterfly…” Conceived by Leah Staten and Directed by Rod Ambrose at Carver Museum & Cultural Center

February / 2011 >

The Coming of the Hurricane” Directed by Pasha featuring Kwane Vedreen & Rod Ambrose at the Playhouse on The Park.

November / 2012 >

The PHX City Starchild” Conceived and written by Tony Rose and directed by Rod Ambrose with vocals by Sonja Campbell at Carver Museum and Cultural Center

October / 2013 >

Exonerated” Directed by Charles St. Claire, featuring T.A. Burrows, Toni Robinson and Rod Ambrose at the Herberger Kax Theater & ASU West Campus

November 2013/ February 2014 >

The Wiz” Conceived by Charlie Smalls & Directed by Rod Ambrose with vocals by Sonja Campbell at Carver Museum and Cultural Center

May / 2014 >

The Art of Blues” Conceptualized by Randy Hedden with consultation scripting by Rod Ambrose. Production Management by Teniqua Broughton, Dance Choreography by Weezy and a cameo appearance by Bernard Purdie

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