Help Fund the Extension of An Ocean In My Soul

The world premiere of An Ocean In My Soul SOLD OUT. Now, we are raising money to fund the extension of the show. The show premieres on 10/25/19. The goal is to keep the momentum up with your help by extending the show into November, either at Santa Monica Playhouse or another nearby theater.


This is not only the world premiere of the play but a theatrical debut for the playwright, Charise Sowells, who has a BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU Tisch where she won awards for her scripts.  Workshops and readings have been done of her work but this is the first full theatrical production. Thus far, she has produced and funded it herself.

The current production is part of the BFF Binge Fringe Festival of FREE Theater at the Santa Monica Playhouse. An Ocean In My Soul was the first festival show to sell out this year. But because tickets are free, there is no chance of making a profit to go towards the extension or even recouping what has already been invested. Thus the need for this fundraiser.

An Ocean In My Soul is about the complexity of one's racial identity as a mixed person in the United States, both past and present. The story is told through song, dance, poetry, and parallel experiences that span space and time, united by the waves of the Black Atlantic. 


Charise Sowells - Playwright, Composer, Producer

At 15, Charise Sowells moved to California from Minnesota to study Musical Theater at Orange County School of the Arts. She then earned a BFA in Dramatic Writing at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with awards for her scripts and academic honors. Her thesis play was accepted into the DC Black Theater Festival and adapted into a feature film. Charise also writes songs which have been featured by SF Weekly, Ukulele Magazine, NPR, and on radio stations both regionally and internationally. She has performed around the country, on television shows, at festivals, and abroad. Her single, “Mr. Fantasy”, won Song of the Year on a Berlin based radio show. Additionally, Charise acts, practices sound meditation, and directs music videos. She is thrilled An Ocean In My Soul is having its world premiere at the Santa Monica Playhouse and incredibly grateful to everyone who has made this possible on the 400th anniversary of slavery in the United States. 

Mary Schaugh - Director

Starting in New York and landing in Los Angeles, Mary has directed, musical directed, and performed throughout the U.S. and abroad. Using her varied artistic experiences, Mary loves bringing new and classic works to audiences focusing on keeping art alive and giving audiences a chance to connect to whatever is happening on stage. Most recently directing in Hollywood and in the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Mary is excited to be a part of the Binge Fringe Festival and bringing the work of Charise Sowells to its audience. 

Sakina Ibrahim - Choreographer, Chorus

Sakina Ibrahim is an NAACP Image Award-nominated Author, Performer and Social Entrepreneur. She holds both a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of California, Irvine and a Bachelors of Fine Arts from University of the Arts. She also serves as faculty at Long Beach City College, Cal State Long Beach and various other educational institutions. Sakina uses dance as a means of sharing cultural history, building communication skills and helping others activate their inner power. Sakina’s performance credits include Rennie Harris Rhaw (Ladies of Hip-hop), OWN Network’s Raising Whitley, Shelly Garrett’s Beauty Shop, Bayside the Musical (Off-broadway) and award winning independent films Young@Heart and Cancer Pimp. She has worked with Interscope Records, Jill Scott’s Blues Babe Foundation, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Legendary Donald Mckayle, and Hollywood Choreographer Anthony Burrell. Her work has been highlighted in Aspire TV, Black Enterprise Magazine, Dance Mogul Magazine, Culture Chest, Mass Appeal TV and more. Sakina merges her passions for the arts, education, and entrepreneurship under her consulting company S.E.W Solutions LLC. She is a passionate woman whose brand focus is creativity, education, and empowerment.

Gilbert Roy - Alexander

Gilbert Roy treats every performance as if it were his last. He has performed in Shakespeare’s, King Lear as well as Oscar Wilde’s, Salome and most recently, August Wilson’s Seven Guitars. Now, he is onto what he considers an important segment for all walks of life to witness in An Ocean In My Soul, a play he feels hits home and makes you touch on who you are no matter what race or ethnicity. Gilbert takes pride and remains true to the purpose of every opportunity he is given, whether stage or screen. He would like to thank Charise and Mary for giving him this opportunity. Thank you GOD and family. “The Marathon Continues”— N.H.

Janelle Poirier - Susan

Janelle’s interest in becoming an actor started at an early age watching her Papa star in musicals. Following in her Papa’s footsteps, she appeared in musicals and plays growing up – her largest role being Peter Pan. After receiving her BA in Performance Theatre from Northeastern University, Boston, she went off to NYC performing in off-Broadway shows, sketch comedy, television and directed a new playwright’s play. Los Angeles became reality in 2006 and Janelle appeared in feature films, short films, television and theatre. Then, an opportunity in her second passion, interior design, presented itself and took her into the direction of project management, operations, and sales for many years. In the Fall of 2018, Janelle took the leap back into acting, writing, and directing. She has been fortunate to work on about a dozen projects since. Currently, she is working on her first film and aims to have it completed by January, 2020. Her ambition is to continue growing as an actress and storyteller, collaborating with artists bringing important stories to light. She is honored to be a part of An Ocean In My Soul!

Shawn Richardz - Omni

Shawn Richardz is an actor, voiceover artist, host, and award winning indie film producer based in Los Angeles. She is enthusiastic about women’s visibility in entertainment whether that be in front of the camera or behind the camera. She has studied acting under some of the greats like; Susan Batson, Tony Greco, Margie Haber, which magnetically led her to the wonderland of UCB. She has performed in several comedy festivals in storytelling, sketch, and improv and is a monthly resident performer at UCB Sunset with her sketch group WOCA (Women Of Color Anonymous).  Her comedy idols range from Carol Burnett to Leslie Jones. Shawn’s curly mane has guest starred on television, film, and stage. Shawn is also a volunteer/ mentor/actor for the Young Storytellers Foundation a program connected with the Screen Actors Guild. You can follow Shawn’s adventures by following her Instagram:

Disraeli Ellison - Gilbert

A graduate of Grambling State University, Disraeli applied his Bachelors of Arts Degree in Mass Communications within the entertainment industry to start his career. Keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit that burns in every artist, Disraeli acted in numerous theatre, film and television productions while working as a lifeguard for the City of Los Angeles. Co-founder of The Coleman & Smith Artistic Company (COLS.A.C), Disraeli found his way to the stage and developed his ability to write plays. Impassioned, Disraeli ventured into the production side of entertainment producing television, public access, theater, film and literary work. He discovered a proclivity to write and is currently in the production stages of publishing verse, poems and prose in various publications. An international traveler and advocate for expanding one’s horizons to better one’s lifestyle, he persists in sharing the wonderful opportunities of world travel.

Joslyn Beard - Lydia

Joslyn Beard, better known as “Ink”, is a performer, radio host, model, and proud native of Long Beach, CA. Ink has performed on numerous artist stages from LA with the Queens of Hip Hop, to Texas for SXSW and has hosted at the historical Da Poetry Lounge in Hollywood. An accomplished radio host, Ink has interviewed legendary artists on Dash Radio and can always be heard on her indie platform, Plan-A Radio. Most Recently, Ink was cast as “Patience” in “Dear Patience,” as well as “Amber” in “Dead Weight” for Safe Space Productions. You can follow Ink on Instagram and Twitter at @inkverywell.

Vincent J. Isaac - Malcolm

Vincent is an actor, writer, director, and producer who has been involved in countless productions. After studying in the MFA and MA theater programs at U.C. Davis, he ventured out to Los Angeles to pursue a professional acting career in TV and movies. Some TV credits include, "In The Cut," "Frank's Place," "What's Happening Now," "Cagney and Lacey," "Night Court," "The Fall Guy," and "Hill Street Blues." His movie credits include, "Five Heartbeats," "Wildcats," "St. Elmo’s Fire," "Best Friends," "Twilight Zone-The Movie," "Dr. Detroit," and "Vice Squad." Stage credits include, "Shake My Hand," "Live And Let Live," "Family Matters," "Sunset Baby," Julius Caesar," "No Place To Be Somebody," "Edmond," and "Distant Fires." Vincent has received several nominations from the NAACP, dramalogue and drama critic circle. He won a Drama Critic Circle Award for his performance of "Foos" in "Distant Fires." He also took first place in a modeling competition presented by Wilhelmina Modelling Agency at the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco in the television commercial division.

Jeremiah Benjamin - Colonist

Jeremiah Benjamin has taken to the stage as an assortment of singing/dancing mythical creatures, crazed demonic menaces and the occasional human since arriving in the great playground of LA by way of Portland, OR where he previously worked as a pipe fabrication engineer and aerobics instructor. Recent stage credits include Baki the Satyr in the Hollywood Fringe Festival's premier of "Horny, the Musical", Mister Kazoo in Theatre Macabre (an acclaimed Grand-Guignol immersive experience) and Bottom in Downtown Repertory Theatre's production of Midsummer Night's Dream. He is also a playwright and member of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights. If you ever see him zipping through the Hollywood Hills on a blue Canondale bicycle with bright pink tires, slow down; he's probably learning his lines for his next project and oblivious to traffic. You also might spot his scraggly ginger mug in pop music videos, most notably as 2 Chainz' gold-painted blunt-smoking booty-shaking indoor jet-ski jockey, and an angry redneck harassing Taylor Swift.

Janine Montag - Chorus

Janine Alicia Montag, is a San Diego native currently living in Los Angeles. She began her artistic journey as a competitive gymnast. She continued her investigation of movement by attending the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. While at SDSCPA Janine had the amazing opportunity to perform in Donald McKayle’s choreography “Songs of the Disinherited” and . This experience was the catalyst for her application and later acceptance into the UCI Dance Department where she performed in McKayle's Etude Ensemble for 4 years. She graduated with a double B.F.A in Dance Choreography and Performance with an emphasis in Business Management. After graduation she was invited into Diavolo’s Institute Company as a performer and teaching artist. She is currently a dancer for SíZa and her passion for dance service shines, teaching dance full-time at Gabriella Charter School in Echo Park. 

Salwa Abdussabur - Chorus

Salwa is New Haven born singer, songwriter, actress, and poet who sung background for Childish Gambino during his historical host and performance on Saturday Night Live to debut the “This is America” and “Saturday” Singles. Salwa’s past performance credits include: Saturday Night Live: Background singer for Childish Gambino No More Water/ The Fire Next Time: The Gospel of James Baldwin at Park Avenue Armory in New York City (Be)longing at Long Wharf Theater as apart of The International Festival of Art and Ideas, Open Studio: Literary Happy Hour A Job to Unwork at Artspace: Opening Act, Deeper Change Forum: Opened for Ruby Sale at CEIO

Aysia Turner - Stage Manager

Costumes provided by Valentino's Costumes.

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Charise Sowells 
Santa Monica, CA
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