SHAKESPEARE'S LOST MASTERPIECE

2019 NJACT PERRY AWARD WINNER - OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL PLAY

Is December Dead? Can IOB and Other Police Shows Survive The Aftermath?


I woke up one morning emotionally drained. It was after the first George Floyd memorial service while watching protests for him worldwide, watching people take a stand against the abuse my Brothers and Sisters have taken for so long saying enough is enough. I couldn't dive back into it so early, so I seeked another outlet. Netflix wasn't doing it for me this time. I had been working on my website and the VUE-AGP tab was up on my computer, so I decided to look at some videos.


I started looking at some episodes of my Crizlassic series In Our Backyard. Detective Joseph December is one of my favorite all time characters. Even before I knew I wanted to act, I envisioned myself as a detective (just a TV one, not in real life). I blame it on the cop shows of the 70's. December came about after I had auditioned for two roles in director Cris Thorne's previous webseries Common Threads... and not landing either role. Cris liked what I brought to the audition as an actor (which I almost missed for jury duty), just not for those characters. A few months later, he reached out to me to play this detective in the Common Threads season 2 opener, and it was there where he informed me of his plan to spin off December into IOB.


December & Smith (Dina Massery)


Creating that character was a lot of fun for me. A hard nosed, old school detective that battled the younger, modern day approach that was my partner Rachel Smith, I had to counter her in every way; from the slacks, shirt, and a tie as opposed to going casual, to the leather jacket, to the notepad I kept in my shirt pocket, which caught Cris' eye the first time we shot. While a lot of that was me still being relatively new to acting and wanting to get as much as I could right, that experience helped me as my career moved forward bring life to other characters.


While I was watching episode 5, I found myself thinking back to what was going on in the streets across the world and what December's role would be in it. As a detective he wouldn't be on the front lines, but he would have peers that would have to deal with it. He's pretty much a loner (due to storylines that haven't been approached yet), thus he would be unfazed by civilian negativity that was already against him due to the drug wars in Trewick, Bethel, and Del Monte. You know he's seen his fair share of racism and shadiness on the force. The fact that he isn't afraid of Sgt. Korver from Bethel tells you he's not afraid to step to anyone on either matter.


I talked with Cris about my thoughts and asked him about IOB going forward in what I believe will be some sort of New World Order in regards to policing, and could TV shows in general play to a fanbase going forward. He didn't speak for all, but believes IOB can. "IOB wasn't that far off the mark of what is happening today. It's not a period piece, so it can be adapted to today's time or even a very near and dark future," he said. The storyline happened to be headed in the direction of one side against the other, lead by fear and paranoia in the form of "truth", which happens to be the name of the drug circulating through Trewick. He feels that IOB can continue on no matter how real life plays out.


This convo then had me thinking about Uniform Justice, a play I was honored to be a part of from 2014-16. The play served as a catalyst to open dialogues between police departments and their communities in crime troubled cities. We received rave reviews in NYC, parts of Jersey, and in Cleveland, and some departments made changes to their protocol of handling volatile situations based on what we brought to the stage. Director Chuk Obasi feels that many of the sentiments of the play would be expressed much more strongly if written today, and the stakes would feel even higher. I flipped the table on him and then asked how would a sequel to the original look. "A sequel would need to further analyze systematic racisim to the extent that what we see is not about good and bad cops, but about all cops who understand that their very existence within the system makes them complicit, but not necessarily bad people. A sequel would analyze rage with such consideration and astuteness that we will be forced to consider the layered complexities around the violent nature of uprisings that leads to heated standoffs."


In the end, Hollywood would find a way to survive, or at the very least adapt, not to mention that fans of cop shows are into the characters and their storylines as much as art imitating life. In the same vein, the Crizlassic/IOB fanbase in general, and TeamAGP in particular, will keep December alive as long as they want... and should a Uniform Justice sequel come from this post, then it was well worth having the thoughts. --AGP.

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