Ty Sanders’ smile gave it away, that’s why Hortense Mitchell stopped on the street to ask the tall stranger to be in her play, she said. He had that quality about him that engaged people. And even though he had no acting experience, he agreed on the spot to audition.
Tywanza Sanders, 26, was working as a barber in North Charleston after graduating in 2014 from Allen University with a business administration degree. A press release issued by the school described him as quiet with a warm and helpful spirit.
He was all of that and more.
He was the sort of observant person who made people feel at ease, said Nowa Fludd of North Charleston, who would have performed with him in the play. He politely held open doors. Between rehearsals, he would sit clicking away on his smartphone, but if you started cutting up, you’d turn and he’s be watching with that smile.
He competed in poetry slams, and teased fellow cast members in the Royal Missionary Baptist Church play by replying to things they said in rhymes.
“He had that dry sense of humor that you almost had to think about it, and then you started laughing,” Fludd said. She would tell him “You’re so awesome” so much, she said, that he would deflect it by telling her first, “I know, I’m so awesome.”
He was rehearsing not only in the role of a timid husband but also in a second role and as an understudy. On stage, playing timid to Fludd’s aggressive wife, “he would do these little voices that made everybody say, ‘No, no. Don’t do that voice!’ ” she said.
Female cast members would tease him about not dating anyone regularly and he astounded Fludd by saying he didn’t want to get involved until he had some security in life to offer. “Why would I want to be someone who would become a liability for them,” she recalls him saying.
The cast is devastated, Mitchell said. “I just don’t know what we’re going to do right now.”
The title of the play? “Life.”
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