I’ve just started meeting with my dramaturg for the Geffen Playhouse production of Black Super Hero Magic Mama. That play begins workshops in September and opens in March, 2019. Jon Lawrence Rivera of Playwrights’ Arena recently (and pleasantly) surprised me with an offer to produce my play I Go Somewhere Else. I wrote that play during my first year of grad school at USC and never looked at it again. Now I’m looking at it and working on rewrites that I’m just now capable of doing in terms of time and also I’m a different writer than I was during the first draft of that play. I’m able to tackle it now, I hope. It’s the only autobiographical piece I’ve written and more time and distance from the central conflict has given me more perspective and more freedom in the writing. That play goes up in August 2019. I also have a play about reverse-gentrification in the South Suburbs of Chicago, Welcome to Matteson!. It won the Blue Ink Playwriting Award at American Blues Theatre. I’m excited about this play because Chicago is my hometown and the play focuses on that period of time when the Cabrini Green housing projects were torn down and the residents transplanted 50 miles away to the suburbs. This part of recent Chicago history is fascinating to me, particularly because this is a story about Black folks for whom another set of Black folks represents “the other.” I’m also (because that’s not enough) writing a brand new play through the Humanitas Prize Play LA Workshop. Five Los Angeles-area playwrights were selected for a year-long development program to create new plays. I just completed a first draft of my play, A Hit Dog Will Holler, about a social media “strategist” with agoraphobia who meets a food delivery driver who’s actually a prolific social-political activist (when she’s not delivering food). It asks questions about how/how much our politics truly matter if we’re not actually out there doing something to effect change.
The most important thing for me as a writer is giving an honest, truthful voice to Black characters. There are so many unique, beautiful traits and eccentricities that I encounter in my everyday life that I’ve yet to see in abundance on stage. We’re getting there with television. Thank God for Atlanta. I need to see real, specific characters in complex relationships on stage. Writing dialogue that feels truthful and valid is my jam.
I write because I need to get these voices out of my head! Since I was a kid, I’d make up stories in my mind and run them over and over. When I was little, I’d just entertain myself “watching” my brain plays. Now that I have an outlet for my creativity, I can get them out and, hopefully, put them into the world for others to read and see.