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Black Arts and Culture

New Play Debuts In Norfolk October 7 – Sisters in the Church House

What happens when four local female friends, all retired, and who share a love for the Lord, put their hearts, minds and spirits together to write and produce a play? You should come to the Norfolk Collegiate School’s Hackney Theater on Saturday, October 7, 2017, to find out. Playwrights-actresses-singers Gwendolyn Staton Matarita, Jackie Bright Staples, LaVerne Johnson, and Johnice Johnson invite you to come and see “Sisters in the Church House.”

A Parked Place, Inc. production, produced by Staton Matarita and Bright Staples, with original music by J. Johnson, “Sisters in the Church House” plays for two performances, at 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. The NCS Hackney Theater is located at 7336 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA 23505.

The women portray an affable, charming quartet of “church ladies” who will move your spirit, alternately having you laughing, crying, tapping your feet and occasionally leaping from your seat in praise.

Each of the ladies is a veteran playwright and artist and LaVerne noted that it was inevitable their creative energies would eventually coalesce. She said, “We all met at Mt. Pleasant Church. Some were members and some were musicians.” Johnice added, “We’d get together, with lots of fun and laughter. Gwen decided to put it to paper.” She realized that, somewhere, a story lived in their closely-knitted acquaintances. Her instincts bore fruit.

Gwen said the play is about, “Four friends and their church life and how the consequences of not seeking God can lead to disappointment, rejection and betrayal.” LaVerne added, these “sisters in the church house” were “misled by their own hearts and did not listen to God first.”

The play is not so much autobiographical, as much as it serves a reminder that we all have fallen short of the glory of God. Yet, it also clearly speaks of redemption. Gwen noted one of the most inspirational moments in the play occurs, “When a character has to come back, after being deceitful, and now has to ask for forgiveness.”

Yet, the drama has a great deal of humor as well. Jackie said one of the most comedic highlights is when, “LaVerne, portraying ‘Mother Mabel,’ leads the testimonial service.” Johnice added that another particularly funny moment is when, “Two soloists argue in choir rehearsal over who’s going to lead a song.” As LaVerne chimed in again, the play is about, “What really happens in church.” The ladies’ greatest hope for audiences attending the production is that individuals come to accept the simple truth that they need surrender to God’s will and let Him direct their paths.

Portions of the proceeds from “Sisters in the Church House” will benefit both A Parked Place, Inc., a 501(c)(3), non-profit agency and Women United, A United Way organization. Tickets for the 12:00 p.m. matinee performance are $15 and can be purchased online at General admission for the 5:00 p.m. show is $25. Those tickets too can also be purchased online at For further information, call (757) 719-5592 or email

By Terrance Afer-Anderson

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