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‘Neon Man and Me’
Show about Franklin County native wins best drama
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Photo by Lauren Morrison: Slash Coleman, winner of the the 2012 United Solo Award for Best Drama for "The Neon Man and Me," stands on the red carpet in New York.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A one-man show about Franklin County neon artist Mark Jamison who was killed in 2004 topped the best drama category at a festival in New York last month.

Slash Coleman's "The Neon Man and Me" was presented with the award for 2012 Best Drama at the third annual United Solo Theater Festival on Nov. 18.

"The Neon Man and Me" is a tribute to the life of Coleman's best friend, Jamison, who was electrocuted while he was hanging a neon sign in Salem.

Jamison was a 1986 graduate of Franklin County High School and owner of the Neon Man Sign Co. in Roanoke.

Coleman's show premiered Oct. 14, 2005, at the Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke.

Coleman has toured nationally with the stage version of the production since 2006 before it began to air nationwide as a PBS special in 2010, he said. It has since been seen by over 77 million viewers to date.

Coleman has used the production to raise over $100,000 for non-profit organizations, children's hospitals and bereavement groups, he said. Funded in part by the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), the show has grown to include a public school curriculum entitled "Healing Community: Helping Students Come to Terms with Tragedy, Loss and Violence."

"The show has now enjoyed two short runs at two different off-Broadway theaters," Coleman said. "I'm now in the process of building the creative team to launch the production on Broadway by 2014."

Coleman, a Richmond native, is a playwright, novelist and short-story writer, whose work has been featured in The Washington Post and American Theatre Magazine.

The United Solo Theatre festival is an annual international festival for solo performances held in New York City.

 
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