The curriculum for AmaZing Theatre’s Acting Workshops has been developed by Dr. Percy W. Thomas. Percy has been with the theatre since 2003 and though he would like to be on stage, he spends his time teaching, writing, directing, and producing productions. He has written numerous plays that focus on the African American experience from the 1800’s to today. He has a particular interest in providing opportunities for people to learn how the craft of acting opens the door to self-development and/or the participation in the performing arts.
In 1973, his love of theater led him to establish the Free Spirit Theater in Baltimore, Maryland where he was involved in teaching acting workshops in an urban environment. His first play, Where the Sidewalks Cracks was written to give his students an opportunity to perform on stage. Where the Sidewalk Cracks was produced off Broadway at Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art. Some of his other plays include: Man On The Mountain, Dividing Line, The Last Shall Be First, Great Day In The Morning, Zelma, Sagging Pants, The Clock, Harriet Tubman: Defender, Harriet Tubman: Fight for Freedom, and Fire in My Eyes. While his most recent plays deal with the social, economic, and cultural aspects of life in America for Black people, his play writing credentials include a diverse body of work that includes other societal concerns and religion.
Percy began his acting career at the Arena Playhouse in Baltimore, Maryland in Ed Bullins play Clara’s Ole Man. He studied acting under Sam Wilson and Irvin Turner at the Arena Playhouse. Later he studied at the Mafundi Institute's under the tutelage of Roger E. Mosley. While studying at the Mafundi Institute Percy landed a part in the film, The River Niger (1976) directed by Krishna Shah starring James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, and Louis Gossett, Jr. He has played roles in the Other Side of Midnight (1977), The Hitter (1979), And Justice for All(1979) and F.I.S.T (1978). He also has several industrial films among his credits.
His career in the performing arts spans more than thirty years of experience in theater, commercial television, and film. Percy has appeared in more than 40 stage productions. He has played lead roles or principle characters in: In the Wine Time, In New England Winter, Electronic Nigger, Wait Until Dark, Slow Dance on the Killing Ground, No Place to be Somebody, First Breeze of Summer, None to Call Him Father, and Blues for Mr. Charlie (off Broadway). Recently he played the part of (Big Daddy) in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Percy was born in Newport News, Virginia, but spent most of his developmental years in Baltimore. He has a Doctor of Science degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University, Master of Education in Special Education from Coppin State University, Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Certificate from Harvard in Education Administration. He has also held faculty appointments at Coppin State University, Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University, and Sojourner-Douglass College.
Gordon Parks, actor, director, writer, and instructor has always cherished a love for the theater and the performing arts for as long as he can remember. His first theatrical experience was in a High School production of the play “Our Town.” Since that moment, performing became a purposeful part of his life. He has performed in many productions which include Where the Sidewalk Cracks, Of Mice and Men, Westside Story, Video, Zooman, and The Sign. Off-Broadway performances include None to Call Him Father, and Blues for Mr. Charlie. Directorial credits include, Red Tape, That Serious He Man Ball, When the Past Comes Back, and Man on a Mountain. Several of his plays have been produced regionally.
Over the years, he has come to realize that a theater performance is about making the audience feel something and that every theatrical experience should evoke an emotional response, either good or bad. It should enlighten and stimulate the mind, becoming a window to a world of values and ideas. Gordon believes that the theater is the one arena where one can entertain, educate, and inspire while providing an insight into the human race and the human condition.
Also, he is a member of the Griot Circle of Maryland and The National Association of Black Storytellers. During a pilgrimage to Senegal, West Africa, the elders, during a naming ceremony, agreed that his African name should be “Soorah,” which means “One who reaches out to the universe.” He has become a storyteller in the tradition of the African Ancestors, teaching morals and values while educating, inspiring and entertaining.