Fred 45 is three-act play written by Sam Decker, who lives on the upper west side of Manhattan with his wife and three children. Sam went to high school in Shelby, NC, received a Bachelor of Creative Arts at UNC Charlotte, and earned a Master of Arts degree at City College of New York.
Black and white.
Fred loves Toni.
Toni loves Fred.
They married across color lines and have always been proud of their choices.
At 45, his hipness fading along with his idealism, Fred comes home to a party where old friends tempt him with his own past.
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Fred 45 takes place before, during and after Fred's forty-fifth birthday. Fred is a white man married to a black woman, Toni, and they have two teenage children. The reappearance of a college friend provides the catalyst for Fred to reevaluate his whole life, from his marriage, to his career, to his children. The cast is small, and loaded with the potential for conflict. The eight roles provide intense contrasts: black and white; parents and children; Jewish and southern; middle class kids in elite private school; the ease of having money versus hand to mouth existence; and the differences between men and women.
Our cast includes April Jones and Alan Poindexter.
Fred is a work in progress. We've enlisted the aid of an experienced cast, along with members of the Playwrights Project of Healing Springs, Muhammad Abdullah and Ed Gilweit, as well as the National Playwrights Project Artistic Director, Meir Ribalow. The author is in residence during the rehearsal period. Our hope is to develop Fred 45 and see it through to a full production sometime in 2001. We seek an audience who is interested in this process.
Please join us for a staged reading of Fred 45.
Thursday & Saturday, October 26 & 28, 2000
8 p.m. - tickets $5
performances at OTTC (map below)
Meet J. Samuel Decker, author of the play...
Immediately following the performance on Thursday the 26th, participate in a moderated discussion of Fred 45, led by Playwrights Project board member and Pfeiffer professor Muhammad Abdullah.
a chat with J. Samuel Decker
Lynn Trenning interviews
Chapter One: I am born. Oh, sorry. Just that Dickens influence.
I was born in Germany, grew up in England and up and down the eastern seaboard. By the time I got to high school I was marooned in Shelby. N.C., and then found my way, almost by accident, to Charlotte, to the B.C.A., which seemed like a really great thing at the time. I focused on photography, and after graduation went to Kentucky and Lousianna with all my cameras and darkroom equipment. Finally got the courage to move to NYC 20 years ago... haven't left yet and most likely won't. Got my masters at City College where I mostly studied poetry, 'cause I found I was reading more than I was working in the darkroom, and poetry seemed liked a good place to start to learn how to read and how to write. Married, three kids, too many animals.
Since I've started working I've sold popcorn and cards door to door, worked as a photographer, a pizza maker, waiter, bartender, housecleaner, tugboat cook and egg inspector. Currently teaching English in a bilingual French/American school. My goal is to be the toast of Off Broadway (which would include Charlotte) and of course to eventually live a life of leisure.
Sam and Terri Decker on their wedding day
Fred 45 seeks black-white dialogue
by Joann Grose, for the Charlotte Observer
October 26, 2000
For all the problems between races in this country, differently colored Americans don't talk much about those problems.
Fred 45, a three-act, seriocomic work-in-progress by UNC Charlotte graduate Sam Decker wants to help change that.
Well-known Charlotte actors Alan Poindexter and April A. Jones are the featured performers in staged readings tonight and Saturday at Charlotte's Off-Tryon Theatre Company. The producer/director is Lydia Arnold, Decker's UNCC classmate.
The title character is a white New York teacher married to a black woman. At Fred's 45th birthday party, Clayton, a white friend from college, shows up to offer Fred a lucrative job with an ultra-right-wing publishing house. Fred and his wife, Toni, have two teen-age children in expensive private schools, one of whom has an accompanying black militant pal. The mix includes a lesbian couple, friends of Toni's, helping with the party.
Don't mistake Fred 45 for autobiography, Decker says, even though he's 45, and a white Shelby High grad who lives in New York with his African American wife and their three children. By day, Decker teaches eighth-grade English in a bilingual French-English school. His wife works at the prestigious Ethical Culture School, where their children are students.
"It's not meant to be autobiographical," he says. "I wanted to write something for black actors; they never have any work. I wanted to write something about middle-aged people.
"What's very interesting about middle-aged people - facing the consequences of the choices we've made. We have to evaluate them. And kids in high school need as much of their parents' time as possible."
Decker wrote Fred 45 two years ago. He has a second completed play and two more in the works. Autobiographical or not, Fred 45 explores a landscape Decker knows.
"Black and white people don't talk about being black and white because it's an uncomfortable conversation," he says, sipping coffee in the Soda Shop in Davidson one recent morning.
Going over script changes with him, the director Arnold, who is also white, says: "White people have the luxury of saying racism's no problem because it's escapable for white people."
Decker continues: "Fred gets what every good character in theater gets. He gets to reaffirm who he is, against the seductiveness of Clayton."
"Who," Arnold interjects, "for a moment offers you ..."
"The illusion," Decker finishes, "that you can have your youth back - that absolute sense of possibility."
write to Sam
performances at OTTC, 3143 Cullman Avenue (just off 36th Street in North Charlotte)