Growing up in North Richmond, Donte Clark, like many residents, relied on corner stores for groceries. The small “mom and pop” shops were a lifeline for many. “A lot of us grew up on convenience stores — the food they brought, the social life,” says Clark. “The stores represent the heart of the community, where you get your information and hear people’s stories.”
It is a corner store just like the one described by Clark that is the setting of Clark’s newest play, “Po’ Boys Kitchen,” being produced and performed by local spoken word and acting troupe, RAW Talent. The play provides a commentary on modern-day Richmond through the perspectives of characters that pass through the convenience store, one of the last Black-owned businesses in Richmond.
Key characters such as the owner of Po’ Boys Kitchen, OG Hodge, recurring visitors like Hobo Jo, as well as Sabrina and Taylor, two youth employed at the store, anchor the play. As we’ve come to expect from Clark’s work, “Po Boys Kitchen” packs a sublime political punch that Clark knows will resonate with Richmond residents.
“For Black folks in Richmond particularly, it’s about the [loss of] Black businesses,” says Clark. “The play does cherish the memories of ‘back then’ but it also makes the statement [that] we have the right to ownership, now.”
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