Sizzling Storyteller Ardre Orie Talks ‘The Heart Of A Man’ Stage Play Centered Around Men’s Mental Health [Exclusive]

Ardre Orie Presents The Heart of A Man

Source: Markeon Edwards / Markeon Edwards

A playwright is getting to the heart of the matter during mental health awareness month with a play centered around creating safe spaces for men.

Ardre Orie is the visionary and executive producer behind The Heart Of A Man, a stage play that will be performed at Atlanta’s Synchronicity Theatre, with two shows on Saturday. The writer and director has enlisted Black men from diverse walks of life to give insight into the male psyche. Fueled in part by her want to better understand men amid her healthy decades-long marriage and the death of Philando Castile, Orie wants watchers to listen and learn about masculinity, vulnerability, and compassion.

Ahead of The Heart Of A Man premiering Saturday, May 18, Ardre Orie told BOSSIP about the play’s mission, the dynamic cast, and her sizzling storytelling career.


Tell us about The Heart Of A Man.

I have this theatrical production coming up and it is really about mental health awareness for the month of May. It’s an all men’s cast, it’s dynamic and just a dope concept. And there’s me behind it, a Black female. I wrote and I am executive producing this, but it is really about men being able to have a safe space to share. Many people say, ‘Well, why would you as a woman want to tell men’s stories?’ Well, because I’ve been married for 21 years and it’s a manifestation of a lot of the things I learned from my husband throughout this time, but I also realize that if the men in our lives are healthy, then they can be strong enough to provide a great foundation for us. But if they’re not healthy, then we can’t have the best types of relationships and exchanges that we can have. And so that is really my why behind this. Lastly, The Heart Of Man was kind of a response to [the killing of] Philando Castile, and of course, everyone else was deeply troubled and I thought, ‘Well, what can I do? How can I help?’ I felt very helpless. And so it made me start to really say, ‘What is it that men are feeling? What are you experiencing? And is anyone even willing to listen? And are we as women listening?’ So that’s kind of the roots of the production.

Tell us about the men in this cast, I feel like I saw Scotty from Grillz By Scotty in there…

Correct, you saw Scotty from Grillz by Scotty. You saw Stevie Bagg, Jr. who’s currently on BMF, and Jason Louder who’s also currently on BMF. We have someone recently who was recently featured as a writer on Beyoncé’s last album as part of the backup choir; you name it. These guys are true actors, Karon Riley, who’s married to Terry J. Vaughn, comedian Rodney Perry, Maurice Johnson; those are some of the standouts.


Ardre Orie Presents The Heart of A Man

Source: Markeon Edwards / Ardre Orie Presents The Heart Of A Man


How did you get into storytelling and how did that lead you to The Heart Of A Man?

So I wrote and published my first book at the age of 10 and I knew then that that was really something that I loved. I loved telling stories. I was in a single-parent home and shortly after I wrote that book, I remember I had this book signing and my mom came into my room and she said, ‘Here!’ and she handed me a full hand of money. And I was like, ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’ And she said, ‘This is yours.’ We would literally sell books out of our trunk to people in my community in my hometown of Gainesville, Florida. I was kind of known as the little child prodigy who wrote the book and that was great. I just really learned that words had power and that words in stories were a way for people to come together.

Shortly after that, my mom was involved in a really tumultuous domestic violence relationship. And so writing kind of became a place for me to put the things that I couldn’t say out loud in other places. It was house business and the domestic violence rules were very stringent at that time, so you couldn’t get a lot of help. You had to almost be dead or near dead to even get assistance. So navigating that process with my mom was a heavy burden, but I kept writing and writing. And so when I moved to Atlanta, I resigned from my job. I had gone to school for education and was an assistant principal and I resigned, moved to Atlanta, and wrote another book. And so that book was a book that a lot of people felt like was their own, and it established a sense of community, but it got a lot of attention.

And so from that attention, I had someone who was the very first season of Love and Hip Hop, their publicist came to me and said, ‘Hey, do you know how we can get this book written?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I can write it for you. I can write the book.’ I didn’t even know ghostwriting was a thing at the time. So, I wrote the book in 30 days because the season was starting and that person needed a storyline. And then I kind of became the go-to person for the network if someone needed a book in their storyline. And so with the books, a lot of times I was just transforming characters. If someone said they made one choice, I would say, ‘Well, what would be different about their life if they made a different choice?’ And that’s how I got into the theater portion of things because I’m creating characters.

Ardre Orie Presents The Heart of A Man

Source: Markeon Edwards / Markeon Edwards

Why is it important for The Heart Of A Man to premiere during mental health awareness month?

I feel like we have started to remove the taboo association of mental health and we’ve started to make it a hot topic it’s very necessary because in this country and also in the world, particularly with people of color have a lot of things that affect who we are, how we show up. We have to code-switch, we have to hide our emotions and feelings to be in the workplace and to try to just exist. And so we need to have safe spaces where we can discuss our issues. We need to have safe spaces where other people can come to hear truths according to us and not someone else inserting themselves. And so that’s really what my theatrical productions have become. They’ve become spaces where we talk about things that might not be comfortable for everyone, but that are necessary. And the goal is that they spark necessary discussions outside of the play for the heart of a man, the goal is that men get the stage.

I also have an all-female cast, and so that is for women to have the stage. I also have a production where they come together and it’s “he said, she said,” but this particular one during mental health awareness month is critical because so many men are hurting and they’re not feeling that they can speak freely. A lot of times I hear from men that even when they express their emotions, they have to be delicate in how they express those emotions to us. They have to not raise their voice, they have to make sure they say things in a certain way, and so a lot of times men just refrain from speaking at all, and we’re seeing increased rates of suicide. So this is addressing that.

Where can people get more information about you and The Heart Of A Man?

Date: 5|18|2024

Time: 2 Shows (2 PM Matinee, 7 PM Encore)

Location: Synchronicity Theatre|ATL

Attire: All Black. Black Tie.