'Neon Man' play earns creator a Groucho Award
January 19. 2006
Slash Coleman's play about his relationship with his best friend Mark Jamison, "The Neon Man
and Me," has come a long way since it premiered at Mill Mountain Theatre in October.
Since then, it has won a Groucho Award for Best One Man Play.
The Groucho Award is given by the Comedy Sportz Improv Theater. It honors the Richmond playwrights and
comedians who have graced the theater's stage each year.
The Groucho was quite a surprise for Coleman. At the black-tie awards ceremony, he had decided to leave early,
but as he was saying his goodbyes, "Everyone was telling me, 'You can't leave,' " Coleman said last week.
Soon afterward, he was presented with the award.Coleman met Jamison -- known to many Roanokers as "The Neon
Man" -- while a student at Radford University in the late 1980s. Jamison, a Franklin County native, opened a neon
shop in Roanoke in 1999. His artwork ranges from Roanoke landmarks such as the Grandin Theatre to Burger
Kings. Businesses throughout downtown Roanoke are adorned with glass tubes he bent and filled with neon and
argon gases and pigments.
Jamison died in January 2004 when he brushed a high-voltage power line while installing a sign at a West Salem
restaurant. He was 35.
"The Neon Man and Me" has raised more than $5,000 in funds for nonprofit groups, as well as benefiting an
education fund for Mark Jamison Thomas, the son Mark Jamison never knew.
Jamison's girlfriend, Lisa Thomas, found out that she was pregnant the week after Jamison's death.
Coleman has plans to take the play on the road. He is scheduled to perform in New York and San Francisco, and
hopes to take the show off-Broadway. He would also like to have the show return to the Star City, in perhaps a year