Ronald Lopes sometimes gets requests from people interested in telling the story of his sister, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.
He’s come up with a bit of a test to gauge how serious they are.
If you want to know my sister, go to Usha Village in Honduras.
So, several years ago, actress and playwright Kerisse Hutchinson, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lopes, did just that.
Hutchinson visited the Central American nation, where she not only discovered a place of spiritual grounding for Lopes, who was best known as a third of the popular R&B all-female group TLC, but also experienced healing herself after the death of her sister.
“This is when he (Ronald) took me seriously,” said Hutchinson, who initially reached out to Lopes on social media. “He invited many others to Honduras and they never went. I knew that I needed to go because Honduras was extremely important to Lisa. It was her spiritual home.”
She found a rich land, where people came to the Usha Village to reconnect with nature and themselves.
Hutchinson has written and will perform a one-woman play, “2 the Left: A Tribute to the Life of Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes,” which premieres in Atlanta at the Synchronicity Theatre for a two-week run from Aug. 1 through Aug. 11. The multimedia production chronicles the life and spiritual journey of Lopes as she seeks her artistic voice. It’s directed by Tom W. Jones II.
The play was selected for the “Synchronicity Stripped Bare: Arts Incubator Lab Project” in the 2017-18 season.
RELATED: Gallery of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes
MORE: Remembering Lisa Lopes: Singer dreamed of a creative rebirth
A New York native, Hutchinson moved to California and landed a lead role in the hip-hop musical “Honey Bo and the Goldmine” at the La Jolla Playhouse.
She had always gotten comments that she looked a lot like Lopes, who died at age 30 in 2002 in a vehicle accident in Honduras.
A professor suggested Hutchinson do a project on Lopes, who was known for sporting a black stripe under her left eye. “It was my choice to say yes or no,” said Hutchinson. “I decided to say yes.”
The play took two years to research before she started writing.
It’s not the first project on TLC or Lopes, who garnered her share of headlines for bad behavior, including the infamous 1994 burning of the home of then-boyfriend Andre Rison, who was an Atlanta Falcons player at the time. There was the documentary “The Last Days of Left Eye” directed by Lauren Lazin and the film “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.”
Hutchinson, who moved to Atlanta from Los Angeles in 2017, said she was a fan of Lopes and the group, but still didn’t know a lot about her.
“As a one-person show, I could really explore who she was,” said Hutchinson.
Hutchinson never met Dr. Sebi, who had a profound influence on Lopes. The herbalist, who died in 2016, helped others detoxify to gain better physical health. “She bought land connected to his village. She wanted to start healing people.”
“People don’t know how spiritual Lisa was,” said Hutchinson, who believes Lopes knew she would die young.
Before going to Honduras in 2013, Hutchinson lost her 23-year-old sister, Tiye. Being there, though, helped her heal.
“Especially with my sister transitioning, she (Lopes) helped me just navigate that space,” she said.
Ronald Lopes is satisfied with his sister’s portrayal.
“You have to take a moment to walk in her shoes and see what type of person she was,” he said. “I want people to have a better understanding of who Lisa was — not just externally, but internally as well as spiritually. She was always talking about energy and balance. You have to understand her struggles and the message she was trying to get out of her. Kerisse gets all of that in her play.”
He said his sister didn’t see death as the end.
It was more the transfer of energy from one form to another. In a way, that helps comfort those who loved her.
“She talked about energy never dies, it just transforms. That’s true throughout the universe,” he said.
“2 the Left” is not a biopic, but rather focuses on Lopes’ spiritual journey and attempts to find out what her legacy is about. “She was very layered,” said Hutchinson. “I could probably research her forever and find new things. I think she would be proud of this play. I think it is continuing her legacy. I want people to have a better understanding of who Lisa was, not just externally, but internally and spiritually.”
“2 the Left: A Tribute to the Life of Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes”
Aug. 1-11. $15-$45. Synchronicity Theatre, 1545 Peachtree St. NE #102, Atlanta. 404-484-8636, synchrotheatre.com.
About the Author