Trulawn "Trooper Tru" McCray
Trulawn is the only person to have had the experience of being in ensembles directed by both Free Street founding Artistic Director, Patrick Henry, and longtime Artistic Director Ron Bieganski. Trulawn was in the ensemble from 1987-1997. He started when he was 13 years old as part of Free Street artistic programming at Cabrini-Green. With Free Street, he went on four performance tours in Europe. He continues to express himself creatively by creating short animated movies. There is a recording of Trulawn in the performance of Mad Joy which was recorded at WTTW.
Free Street Theater has been a second home to me in many ways. From Project! to the MET Summer Programs to TeenStreet... from great people like the late Patrick Henry to Ron Bieganski, everything artistic I have learned is from Free Street.
My Free Street story begins at age 13. At that time, I was with an ensemble known as "Kids From Cabrini". That was the first time I really worked with Patrick Henry. I was pleased with just the privilege of even being instructed by him. We interpreted three African folk tales through acting and percussion. My favorite part of it all was playing the African drums. Even as a teenager, I always leaned toward anything musical. This was also around the time period I first met Ron Bieganski.
Then at age 15, I started performing in Project! with the adult cast. To be exact, myself and 3 other kids toured with the show. Project! performed in the UK twice, but I only went the second time. After the UK, we toured select parts of the East Coast.
About a year and a half after touring with Project! (around the time I was 18), TeenStreet started. At that time, it was sponsored by the Mayor's office of Employment Training (MET). The following year, I started working more closely with Ron Bieganski. I learned more aspects of theater and percussion from Ron (through many workshops). Within the workshops, I learned how to write my own scripts. I would then use this knowledge to create several "short films" with help from a text-to-movie animation program.
After many workshops and putting together select writings into a script, a theatrical performance was created. Playing the drums during the dance breaks [in each performance] was one of the fun parts for me. What tops that is during the Q&A sessions; I would perform a brief rap song - introducing the cast. But probably the most fun part about the whole thing was touring Germany (3 times) and meeting many interesting people!
During the first two tours, I got together with my buddy Antonio Suide and thought up a comedy routine - which we would actually perform that following year.
Because of Free Street (and the mentors from whom I have had the pleasure to learn), I am forever grateful.
- Trulawn "Trooper Tru" McCray
(written February 2019)