Nathan Ross Freeman’s play ‘The Other Way Around’ to premiere Feb. 18 Opening night will coincide with Leo Rucker Day

Nathan Ross Freeman’s play ‘The Other Way Around’ to premiere Feb. 18 Opening night will coincide with Leo Rucker Day
February 02
12:49 2022

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

This year’s Black History Month will mark several firsts in the local theatre scene: “The Other Way Around” premiere by 40+ Stage Company, the first time a play by a Black playwright will be performed by 40+ Stage, and the first time a Black director will lead the cast of 40+. In addition, a Black artist has designed the play’s marketing poster and will have an exhibit of his work during the run of the show.

And all this attests to the incredible and variety of talent that can be found here in Winston-Salem. “The Other Way Around” will feature local actors Corliss Sellers (Simone), Gary Waddell (Edmund), Love’ Lemon (Vicky) and Jordan Googe (Joe).

Bringing this romantic and dramatic play to opening night at the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts Blackbox Theatre didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it almost didn’t happen this way at all.

In a recent interview with Nathan Ross Freeman, local writer, actor, screenwriter and playwright, Freeman says that he had planned to write a screenplay that broke the stereotypical depiction of a Black family as a single mother with children, and to show instead the more realistic successful, educated Black couple in a long-time marriage that is so often overlooked on the big screen. He wanted the main couple in his film to be educated artists who were approaching their 30th wedding anniversary.

Freeman said he was an admirer of Neil Simon and always wanted to write a play that artistically tackled this character-driven genre. He also wanted to write characters that showed different sides to their personalities, such as the educator who did tagging graffiti on the side, and the artist wife who traveled the world with her friends.

After writing the first scenes of the screenplay, Freeman used crowdsource to fund the production of the film’s trailer. He asked Leo Rucker, a local artist, to design the poster to depict the film to use as an original piece of art as a gift to encourage donors to support the project. After completing the trailer, Rucker determined that the concept wasn’t going to work as a film and in 2015 he put it aside and didn’t pick it up again until 2019.

As the pandemic began to sweep the country, artists everywhere had to pull in, lock down, and pivot their focus to new ways to continue their work. Freeman used this time to revisit “The Other Way Around” and he decided it would work well as a stage play. As the play came together, Freeman reached out to Leo Rucker to see if he could use the original poster design in the play’s marketing.

Sometimes the stars just seem to align at the right time. For its 2021-2022 season, 40+ Stage Company wanted to feature more local playwrights in their productions and “The Other Way Around” was chosen to be produced in February, which just happened to coincide with Black History Month. Working with The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, Leo Rucker was invited to have an exhibit of his work to hang in the Arboreal Gallery of the Milton Rhodes Arts Center and to have a Leo Rucker Day on Feb. 18, the opening night of “The Other Way Around.”

Continuing with the original intent of the poster as a gift with donation, a reception will be held from 6-7:15 p.m. on Feb. 18 where Freeman and Rucker will be on hand to discuss their collaboration and to autograph and sell posters, the proceeds of which will be divided between Rucker and 40+ Stage Company. A Q&A will also be held after the Feb. 20 Sunday afternoon matinee.  Posters will also be available in the gallery gift shop and Rucker’s art will hang in the gallery during the run of the show.

“The Other Way Around” features a husband and wife in a near 30-year marriage. Per the playbill, “This spirited, passionate, intense couple has managed through three decades to keep their relationship fresh and fun, but not without drama. … This is a poignant, funny, moving drama unabashedly honest about two very memorable people and the lessons their love and their lives hold for all of us.” Performances will be held at the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts on Feb. 18, 19, 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 20 and 27 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at and click on “Events” and “Campus Events.” Tickets are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and $12 for students.

For more information about 40+ Stage Company and its upcoming season, visit www.

Following CDC guidelines, the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County requires attendees to all their venues to be fully vaccinated, show proof of vaccination, and wear a mask during the duration of the event.

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