BXTRA with Wali Burgos

–Tatyana Turner

 

It is said that most people will have six different jobs during their lifetime, but imagine holding three of those positions at once. South Bronx native, Wali Burgos is the writer, producer and director of a romantic comedy called, ” The Checklist.” The play focuses on the challenges of having an interracial relationship and the struggle of finding a partner who matches criteria of what someone wants and needs in a relationship. On Saturday, March 31, 2018, Burgos along with his extraordinary cast was able to cap their sixth successful show with roughly 500 audience members in attendance at Lehman College’s Lovinger theater. So, what is it about “The Checklist,” that keeps people coming back?

Burgos along with his brother, Khalid and sister, Asia, decided to change the negative narrative of the Bronx by creating an optimistic play that best represents the borough. “We started off two years ago and it just took off real big, ” said Burgos, referring to their first play that rapidly sold out. ” The first show sold out so fast that we had to do another show.”

While reveling in the streak of success, Burgos recalled a time in which the prospects of having a play were questionable. One year before the debut of “The Checklist,” the Burgos crew decided to hold auditions in hopes to have a full cast ready to take off, but only a handful of auditions took place. Despite the short setback, Burgos was able to persevere; just one year later a little more than a dozen people came in to audition, many of them were first time actors and actresses. ” 15 out of the 20 cast members performed for the first time,” said Burgos. ” But I knew they were the right people for the job.”

According to Burgos, there were two factors that inspired him to write this particular script…his neighborhood and his older brother Khalid. ” My older brother was writing first, so anything he does…you know, I’m the little brother, so anything he did, I do too.”  As for the neighborhood, Burgos modeled the entire play after the borough and the warm environment he grew up in. ” Both of the lead characters come from a good family and that’s where I got that concept from,” said Burgos. ” I grew up in Patterson and was able to see the love of family.”  And just as the Bronx had an impact on the creation of “The Checklist,” Burgos hopes that the play will have an impact on the borough, ” Our focus is positivity,” he said. ” I’m showing our point of view…out of all the five boroughs [people] probably look at us the worst and I want to show ‘ no not over here.'”

A fear that some playwrights have is a silent audience, especially at a romantic comedy. Fortunately for Burgos, the play exceeded his expectations. ” I remember in the first play, my brother came off the stage and during the third scene, me and him look at each other like ‘ we got them,'” said Burgos. ” We hear the crowd laughing; we hear them following the story…”

As the writer, producer and director, it can be assumed that Burgos felt confident with his script and the message of the play. However, there’s a point when Burgos must let go and allow his cast to take over and portray everything he intended. Though this is a seemingly stressful process, the cast did not fail him. ” All five shows, my cast rocked it, ” said Burgos.” “They never mess up and I trust them.”

Be on the look out for the extraordinary, Wali Burgos, his play, ” The Checklist” and his other creative masterpieces that have yet to be unveiled.

See full episode here.

Do Good. Stay Well. BXTRA.

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Tatyana Turner is a Bronx native who grew up in the Mott Haven and Grand Concourse sections of the borough. She has experience in print journalism and photography. In December 2016, Tatyana graduated from Temple University with a degree in Communication Studies and returned to her home in the Bronx where she is applying her skills to further discover the extraordinary people and places in the place she calls home.

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