From Dreamscape to My Name is Myeisha

By Chloe Rodriguez, CHASS Dean’s Office Student Intern
March 1, 2017

“It is a gift to be able to do what I do meaning I get to be creative for a living”

Rickerby Hinds is a professor of Playwriting, Film, and Digital Production, here at UCR. One of his renowned plays, Dreamscape, was just made into a film, My Name is Myeisha. Both the play and the movie are based on an incident that happened in Riverside, back in 1998. A young woman, Tyisha Miller, was found sleeping in her car at a gas station, with a gun on her lap. There were four police officers at the scene, one of them knocked on her car window to try and wake her. The officer ended up breaking the window when one of the other officers believed they had heard a gunshot. All of them started shooting and ended up killing Tyisha Miller with twelve shots. A recreation of that moment is the foundation of the play, Dreamscape, where each of the bullets share a moment in the life of the character Hinds has created. “It is not a replication of the life of Tyisha Miller”, Hinds states, but rather different moments in the life of the fictitious Myeisha Mills’ that are triggered by where she was hit.

This play was nominated for six NAACP awards and won three; Best Actress Award went to the two actresses, Rhaechyl Walker and Natali Micciche and the Best Actor Award went to beatboxer John Merchant. These nominations are the highest for any show directed and created locally in LA. Hinds worked hard to turn Dreamscape into a screenplay, the movie was set in multiple locations and the dialogue in the main part of the script was hardly changed. The main actress, UCR Alum Rhaechyl Walker, serves as a narrator, walking in and out of the scenes. “It is not a traditional looking movie, not a realistic narrative”, Hinds states, “It does a lot for the audience to get the story in a more traditional way than what is received on stage”.

A year and a half ago Hinds did a run of Dreamscape at the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC), during that time a film director named Gus Krieger approached Hinds and said he was interested in doing a film version of the play. They ended up co-writing the screenplay and found investors including UCR to help fund the movie, The Office of the Dean, the office of Research and Economic Development, and vice chancellor of Student Affairs, Jim Sandoval.  “Whatever we make on this movie that comes back to UCR’s investment will be turned into a scholarship through our department that will be given to students to hopefully help them go and make their own films and shorts” Hinds states. It will be a great change to the campus to have an ongoing rotating budget where every year there will be an endowment to award it to some students to help them make their own movie.

Hinds has been touring Dreamscape for about five years since he started directing it. So far, he has taken it to Romania, Poland, Hungary, Istanbul, Honduras, Poland, upstate New York, California, and Arizona. Dreamscape has been translated into four different languages as well, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, and Spanish. A bilingual version of the play has only been done in Honduras (where Hinds is from), he hopes to bring the bilingual version to UCR. On February 19th, he took the play to the University of Michigan where he conducted lectures and workshops on hip hop theatre. He planned to reach out as an artist and professor to show the kind of work that is being done here on campus. Hinds recently had a performance of Dreamscape at UCR and thus the chancellor of Riverside Community College (RCC) as well as the president of Cal Poly Pomona have requested performances on their respective campuses. He plans on having a screening of the movie by the end of March and from there several more to get a feel on how the audiences react to it, eventually taking it to the film festival circuit.

Hinds is currently working on a play called The Blood of Souls on the life of Frederick Douglass, “a hip-hop theatre play in which I will be employing elements of hip hop culture including poetry, spoken word, rhythms of hip hop, and hip hop aesthetics”, Hinds remarks. Right now, he is still in the early stages of the play and seems very excited about the production and outcome. Hinds is also working on establishing a center at UCR, the Center for Dramatic Innovation, where there will be a space created to bring many opportunities for students who want to work in film. The goals are to let them know that they can do a movie here in Riverside and the Inland Empire. Hinds is also working on a Festival for Honduran artists to occur at UCR with one of the goals being to change the perception of Honduras from being “The Murder Capitol of the World”.

It is very evident that Hinds is passionate in his line of work and hopefully continues what he is doing, being creative for a living.

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