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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Never too late

I had planned to post this on Monday. When I wasn’t able to, I was disappointed and just wasn’t going to put it up at all. But then I felt guilty about letting the week go by and decided that was the wrong attitude; truth is, the questions asked and ideas raised in these posts from other blogs are worth reading whether it’s MLK Jr. Day, Week…or any old time.

First, “Why Am I Afraid to Write African American Characters?” from HowlRound, by playwright and teacher Marshall Botvinick. Make sure you read the comments too – lots of interesting thoughts in there, including this from our own Monica Bauer: 

I grew up in a segregated city, in a Polish neighborhood. When I was 12 years old, the local Accordion Studio was turned, almost over night, into a Rock and Roll Studio, where neighborhood kids could learn to imitate bad top 40 bands. My first drum teacher was also the first black man I ever met, the late, great, Luigi Waites. I wondered how it was that Luigi got along so well with the Accordion Guy who owned the store. Thirty years later, that's turned into a play that Urban Stages will open this March, My Occasion of Sin

When I first started developing this at Nebraska Rep. Theater, there was only one black character in the play: Luigi. The play's climax comes during a race riot, inspired by the all-too-real race riot of 1969 in my home town (Omaha). After the staged reading, the only black person present (other than Luigi) spoke out, saying he was disappointed there was not enough of the black perspective in the play. A year later, a new character, a 14 year old black girl, started talking to me. 

When the play was produced in Omaha this past April, there were Talkbacks given with me sharing the stage with black folks who had lived through that riot. And the most important thing to me was hearing them say that I "got it right, told the truth." So I'd encourage anybody to write about any subject where they have a genuine emotional connection. Be brave. But be respectful. And listen.

Second, Sukari Jones’ “Keeping it Real: Black Female Playwrights and the Myth of ‘Authenticity’” on the Public Theater’s blog. Jones is a member of the emerging playwrights group there, and her post is about her excitement for the recent boom of plays by African American women on Broadway…and how those high profile plays have caused her to reflect on her own identity and work.

Good stuff. Important stuff.


  1. Another recent post that I liked, written by a playwright who commented on Marshall Botvinick's article: