You are born into poverty, gravely premature, to a druggie mom and a criminal dad. You endure only to live and grow up in the ghetto where guns are fired daily and your survival instincts far surpass your reading abilities. You're a black male and the naysayers contend that, with your history, your chances of making it in this world are slim to none-- now go tap dance and tell stories about that.
Well that is exactly what Khalil Munir is going to do. Next week, at the historic Freedom Theater, the self-taught hoofer and professional theater teacher will bring his story to life with 1 pound 4 ounces, an hour-long "choreoprovisational" play. While this performance is generally considered a one-man show, Munir is joined on stage with the talented musician, Monica McIntyre, who lends both her voice and brilliant cello playing abilities to create a second, complementary character, thus adding depth to some of the most dramatic scenes. Besides that, the five-day, seven-show run happens in the 300-seat theater on a fairly bare-bones stage, relying heavily on lights, Munir and McIntyre's voice and sound. And, trust me; Munir makes every moment and auditory opportunity count. With his metal-plated dancing shoes and a tap platform beneath his feet, Munir performs catchy musical melodies and recreates childhood playground games as well as bring the grit and grim with toe-tapping gunshots and the subsequent sounds of escape. Munir theatrically captures so many facets of a tumultuous childhood and the realities of ‘hood life only to emerge triumphant— and not just on stage, but in real life.
Munir’s project has been a work in progress since 2005 when it was first introduced for an assignment in an acting class at Adelphi University where he ultimately earned a B.FA in Theater. Then a fifteen-minute performance, Munir has since tweaked and reshaped the one-man show into an unforgettable, full-length act under the direction of Mr. Johnnie Hobbs, Jr., veteran actor and associate professor of theater at University of the Arts. Both Munir and Hobbs agree that, each year, 1 pound 4 ounces has evolved to showcase not only the progression of the skill and expertise behind production and direction, but also the ability to integrate key moments and colorful segments of the autobiographical sketch to make the performance more powerful. Munir affirms that this performance is for everyone, “1 pound 4 ounces is a real story from a real place about the spirit of all people” —those who love theater and those who do not; boys from the ‘hood and guys from the suburbs; teenagers and old folks and everyone in-between. This show—which chronicles hard times, heartache, and a will to succeed—is for them.