Oceanside, CA – Oceanside Black History Month – Oceanside Theater Company and Oceanside Historical Society Presents: “Generational Black Pioneers, featuring Oceanside Entrepreneurs” – An interactive, multi-media exploration, celebrating the black entrepreneurs in Oceanside throughout the years.
This non-fictional narrative and fictional dramatization spotlights stories of Oceanside black business owners past and present. Saturday, February 11, 2023, 7:30p.m., Brooks Theatre 217 N. Coast Hwy
Oceanside CA 92054; Tickets are $15 and available at www.oceansidetheatre.org, or by calling the box
office at (760) 433-8900.
This unique experience will feature live actors depicting black historical figures who played important roles in Oceanside’s history throughout several generations. Their stories are worth telling, worth remembering and being honored. This historic night will bring history to life as the result of collaboration of two non-profits, the Oceanside Historical Society and the Oceanside Theatre Company, and brings to fruition the vision of Rushell Gordon, owner of Bliss Tea & Treats in downtown Oceanside.
“I met Kristi Hawthorne within the first few weeks of starting at Oceanside Theatre Company. I was impressed with her work at the Oceanside Historical Society and I knew there was some collaboration that needed to happen,” says OTC Interim Managing Director Alex Goodman. “OTC and OHS began producing ‘Histories and Mysteries’ in August 2022, a series of successful public presentations on untold stories from Oceanside’s archives.
When Rushell Gordon approached OTC a few months later inquiring about ways that she and her business, Bliss Tea & Treats, could support our work, I could tell we had several ingredients to make
something special happen.” Rushell Gordon connected with Kristi Hawthorne to inquire about black owned businesses in Oceanside. They both discovered that there was not enough black history documented and something needed to happen in order to change that and started a campaign to collect data. The intention was to use that information to build a database at the Oceanside Historical Society
but to also honor black owned businesses past and present in a program for Black History Month.
Rushell knew the project’s director, Linda Bisesti, from a Shakespeare program they collaborated on in 2021. Rushell introduced Linda to Kristi and Alex as the director for this idea that was brewing. It was the perfect fit with Linda’s ability to bring stories life.
With the help of a few other key collaborators, including businesswoman Robbie Hass, the work of putting on an educational and enriching event for the community to celebrate Black History Month was under way.
Some interesting facts about this production:
• It will cover 140 years of black history in Oceanside
• The course of Oceanside’s history was impacted by Biddy Mason- the first black woman
to own property in California and became one of the richest women in Los Angeles.
• The stories will spotlight selected entrepreneurs throughout Oceanside’s history.
The drama will explore the stories of:
– Charles Tapsico who came to Oceanside in 1914 as an auto mechanic.
– Charles Etta Reece came to Oceanside in 1937 and started the first catering service and
opened her own restaurant in 1948. She founded the North County NAACP, established
the Oceanside Girls Club and was awarded the Sojourner Truth award in 1969 by the
– San Diego Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club.
Three men (George Mitchell, Roosevelt Campbell and Oscar Culp) are believed to be the owners of the first storefront and commercial property. In 1966 they opened a TV repair shop and then a furniture store. They remained in business for 60 years. They also owned the Blade Tribune building. There are countless barbers and beauticians who have owned businesses and we will feature Adele and Pearl, two pioneers in this industry. Present day is Bliss Tea & Treats, the first black owned storefront tearoom in downtown
• While contributions of African Americans in Oceanside are countless, these individuals have been chosen to be recognized this year and in the future we will highlight other individuals who have contributed to the history of Oceanside. The goal is to continue to collect information and share this information through the Oceanside Historical Society and future annual events.
About Oceanside Theatre Company…. Oceanside Theatre Company (OTC), the resident professional theater company operating the Historic Brooks Theater in downtown Oceanside, is a focal point of the Oceanside California Cultural District (OCCD). OTC’s mission is to produce professional theatrical, visual art, and musical productions for the entertainment and enrichment of the community, present
educational opportunities in the arts for children and adults, and provide a safe, state-of-the-art public venue for expansion of artistic endeavors in North San Diego County and greater Southern California. OTC produces a four-show mainstage theater season in the 198-seat venue, as well as a Music Series, play readings and various other events in the adjacent black box theater, Studio 219. An important part of OTC’s mission is inspiring and sharing the arts with local youth through the Youth Theater Arts Program, which includes Summer Theater Camps and Youth Theater Arts Outreach in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside during the school year. To learn more visit www.oceansidetheatre.org.
About the Oceanside Historical Society …. The Oceanside Historical Society is proud to be a financial sponsor of this event. The Society serves the community through its history center, website, publications, and walking tours. Most services, including the history center and history walks, are completely free. They have one of the largest historic photo collections in the county and a vast database to aid researchers on
nearly every subject concerning Oceanside history. Located at 305 North Nevada Street in Downtown Oceanside, hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 am to 2 pm. The Oceanside Historical Society is proud to have MainStreet Oceanside as a partner. oceansidehistoricalsociety.org
About the Director: Linda Bisesti
Linda Bisesti is Professor Emeritus from Cal Poly Pomona, Department of Theatre, an AEA, SAG-AFTRA actor, a director, and the Artistic Director of SCSF Guild. Guest Artist work includes The Gaiety School of Acting, Ireland, as well as Wellesley College Summer Theatre. Linda’s directing credits range from Shakespeare to contemporary plays, her invited production of Intimate Apparel to the Kennedy Center
American College Theatre Festival, Region 8. Linda recently coached the Blumhouse podcast series, The Mantawauk Caves. Her partial TV/Film credits include HBO’s Here and Now, How to Get Away with Murder, American Horror Story and a recurring role on ABC’s The Conners. Reginal credits include Shear Madness, at Boston’s Charles Theatre, Steel Magnolias at PCPA and various roles in Shakespeare productions for regional companies.
About the Producer: Rushell Gordon
Rushell Gordon is the owner and Founder of Bliss Tea & Treats, a Board Member of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, Graduate of the Pepperdine University Graziadio Executive MBA program with an undergraduate from St. Mary’s College of California with a major in Organizational Communications. Rushell spent twenty-five years as an executive for major corporations overseeing global programs. Leveraging her years of experience, Rushell opened her first storefront restaurant/tea room Bliss
Tea & Treats in Oceanside on May 8, 2020. Rushell is actively involved in the community and is passionate about creating services and programs that uplift and advance the growth of Oceanside as the best place to work, play and have tea. Located at 301 Mission Avenue #101A Oceanside, CA 92054 ww.blissteatreats.com
About Kristi Hawthorne
Kristi Hawthorne has been a resident of Oceanside since 1983 and joined the Oceanside Historical Society in 1987. She has served on the executive board for over 30 years and was hired as its first director in 2021. In 2000 she wrote “Oceanside: Where Life is Worth Living”, a comprehensive history of the city. In 2022 Hawthorne wrote an additional book, simply entitled “The History of Oceanside” providing a fresh new look at the development of Oceanside and the diverse peoples that make us who we are today. She is a
writer for the popular O’sider magazine and hosts a blog “Histories and Mysteries” which spotlights historic buildings, events, and people, along with true crime stories.
Meet the Actors
Roslyn Samone Glasco is an actor, recently graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a B. A. Degree in Theatre. She has worked for the Southern California Shakespeare Festival Guild performing at Casa
Romantica and most recently in Doubt at the Newport Theatre Arts Center as Mrs. Miller.
Valynsia Sims hails from the San Diego area and since graduating from Cal Poly Pomona with a B. A. in Theatre, she has performed as Imogen in “Imogen Says Nothing” and Ross in Macbeth.
JoeJoe McKinney has preformed and most recently appeared as Benjamin in Rent at the California Theatre. An accomplished singer and performer, he is currently attending Cal Poly Pomona as a threatre major pursuing a BA degree in theatre.
Myles Cox is in his senior year at Cal Poly Pomona, graduating this spring with a BA Degree in Theatre. He last appeared as one of the leads in Mr. Burns: A Post Electric Musical, as Matt.