“My Big Phat Ghetto Fabule$$ Wedding,” Ursula Battle’s exciting play about what happens when a reversal of fortune causes a couple’s expensive dream wedding to turn into a beer-budget nightmare, is among the journalist and writer’s many works that helped her earn the 2016 Newsome Award for Playwright of the Year.
Battle, a longtime columnist with NNPA member the Baltimore Times, was honored Sunday, Aug. 7 at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, Maryland.
“I was humbled, surprised and I was thankful to God for the opportunity to be recognized for doing something that I love to do,” Battle said of the honor. “It gives me another opportunity to give God glory because I believe my talent, my gift, is writing. I believe when I write I’m utilizing the gift god gave me and I don’t ever do it for the spotlight or for recognition.
“This is what I believe that I’m called to do and to be recognized for that is special,” she said. “It also goes to show you that people do recognize and appreciate your work. When you work hard and put your best effort forward, you will be recognized and appreciated and this is a shining example of that.”
A magna cum laude graduate of Coppin State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in journalism, Battle also earned her master’s from the University of Baltimore where she majored in publications design.
Also a graduate of the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland and Walbrook High School in Baltimore, Battle is the founder and CEO of Battle Stage Plays.
She said the goals of her play productions are to uplift, inspire, educate and encourage through sidesplitting comedy, riveting drama, soul-stirring singing, and powerful ministry.
“My favorite scripture says to walk by faith, not by sight and I thank God for the opportunity to be used as a vehicle,” Battle said. “I’m just one part of a big production of people. It’s really not just about me, it takes the writer, director, performers, stage crews, the audience and all of us [to] come together for this.”
Among Battle’s many stage play productions are “DisChord in The Choir,” “The Crown of Glory & The Agony of Deceit,” “Widows in The Hood,” “Jacob, Rachel & Leah,” “Noah’s Ark,” “Never Give Up,” “Abraham & Sarah,” “The Christmas Gift” and “Mary and Martha.”
Her productions have appeared at several greater Baltimore venues, including Coppin State University, Morgan State University, the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, and the Downtown Cultural Arts Center.
Battle’s romantic comedy stage-play production “For Better or Wor$e” was chosen to be performed at ArtScape 2008.
In 2004, her hit production “The Teachers’ Lounge” was chosen for a time-modified presentation for the National Association for Professional Teaching Standards’ Convention held that year at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C.
In 2013, an updated version of “The Teachers’ Lounge” was performed at the Downtown Cultural Art Center in Baltimore.
“The Teacher’s Lounge,” her first play, was conceived after attending a performance of Shelly Garrett’s “Beauty Shop,” Battle said.
“Me, my mother and some others went to see ‘Beauty Shop’ and my mother said to me that I should write a play about teachers,” Battle said, adding that it wasn’t long before she wrote “The Teachers’ Lounge,” one of her most memorable plays.
In September, Battle’s “My Big Phat Ghetto Fabule$$ Wedding” returns by popular demand to Johns Hopkins’ Turner Auditorium. The production drew sellout audiences when it debuted in December.
“People asked us to bring it back so we’re bringing it back and we are also working on bringing back ‘DisChord in the Choir,'” Battle said. “The plays give us an opportunity to highlight the talent we have in Baltimore. We have a lot of traveling plays that come to town but I believe we’re putting plays up that are comparable if not better than those bigger plays.
“We’re able to offer our plays at affordable prices and it gives an opportunity for individuals to shine through their performances and we have so many wonderful singers and dancers and crew members,” she said.