MANSFIELD – Tiger Bradley has been writing and performing plays since childhood. It started as a way to entertain his younger siblings, then morphed into a unique ministry at his church.
Now, the Mansfield native is making his theater debut.
Bradley’s play “The Healing Project” will be performed this weekend in Founders Auditorium at the Ohio State University’s Mansfield campus.
The Healing Project is the latest installment of The Hurt and the Healed, a series of plays exploring real-world issues through the lens of the Dutton family.
The first three works have been performed at Bradley’s church, New Community Temple Church of God in Christ, as well as packed out parishes in Columbus and Marion.
Bradley said adapting his work for the theater stage has been an exciting challenge.
“I’m learning so much about theater, it’s like a crash course really,” he said. “It’s been different from writing a play in a church.
“In the theater, you got to worry about lighting, tech, sound, props, scene changes and things like that. So it’s a lot.”
The Healing Project is an interlude between parts three and four of The Hurt and Healed. Bradley was in the midst of writing part four when he was contacted by OSU Mansfield about a collaboration. He chose to write a new work for the OSU stage, which he says focuses more on Black history than his other works.
Performances will take place Feb. 25, 26 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 27 at 2:30 p.m. Masks are required for audience members.
Tickets are available on Ticketmaster.com, at the Founders auditorium box office before the show or by calling 419-755-4045. Entrance is $8 for general admission and $6 for high school and college students and senior citizens.
The Healing Project tells the story of Tevin Dutton, who brings his father along for an intervention after finding out his son is dealing drugs on his college campus.
“We talk about how Black people get trapped into selling drugs, dealing with the police and what had happened in the past,” Bradley said. “It includes moments in history and what is going on today.”
The show also addresses topics like generational differences and colorism, things Bradley says can cause division among the Black community.
“I was asked to do a Black history story, so I thought it was very important to show the generational differences and then to come and unite,” he said. “As Black people, I think the generations need to come together more.”
Joseph Fahey, the theater director and a professor at OSU Mansfield, said he enjoys the mix of moods in the show.
“It’s a blend of light-hearted comedy, but very serious subject matter,” Fahey said.
Bradley said the humorous aspects of the show are no accident. Injecting laughter helps balance out the heavier conversations.
“It is good to be able to laugh at something that’s kind of serious. It just helps you to understand it,” he said.
“I deal with real issues, but I make you laugh. Then you be like ‘Wait a minute, what did he say?’ That’s how I do it.”
In addition to writing the show, Bradley also directed the production and plays the leading role of Tevin.
For him, the most challenging part is the directing.
“Writing is simple and I’ve been acting all my life,” he said.
Bradley’s interests in acting and writing took root early. As a child, he wrote and acted out for his younger siblings.
“My mother, she sheltered us as young kids. We weren’t allowed to go to different places like everybody else. So I was part of entertaining my brothers and sisters,” Bradley said. “That’s how I used to entertain them, by doing plays.”
As Bradley got older, he started writing Easter and Christmas plays for New Community Temple Church of God in Christ, where his father serves as pastor.
“The plays that we would get, I always used to say ‘I can write something better than that. I can write something more hip than that,’ ” he recalled.
As a youth pastor, he used plays to help young people understand and explore their own struggles.
Now a full-time first administrator at the church, he continues to see playwriting as a ministry opportunity.
“I get my answers from the Bible. So any kind of situation I’m dealing with, I try to find the answer from the Bible and then put it towards today’s time,” he said.
Despite being written for a church atmosphere, Bradley’s plays don’t shy away from tough topics. Characters deal with challenges like loss, divorce, infidelity and family dysfunction.
They are people of faith, but they aren’t perfect role models. Their lives are complex and messy. His plays often show how people act one way in church and another at home.
Bradley said he strives to create characters with relatable struggles to help audiences work through the difficulties in their own lives.
“You’ll definitely be able to learn from their mistakes. But you’ll understand why they’re doing their mistakes,” he said.
Bradley said he’ll continue writing plays about the Dutton family as long as people enjoy them. The next installment of The Hurt and The Healed is already slated for September. It will be performed at New Community Temple Church of God in Christ.
But he’s not ruling out future performances on stage.
“I got spoiled now,” he said. “The theater, the stage, that’s something that I very much want to keep doing.”
Eventually, he’d like to see his work on the big screen.
“I’m hoping one day I’ll be able to do a movie,” he said. “I want to direct it, write the movie and star in it.”
The Life & Culture section is powered by University Hospitals Samaritan Medical Center.