Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Black Power Babies

By Dominique Morisseau

My play, SUNSET BABY, began as an experiment that Jose Rivera gave to me and my fellow writers in the 2011 Emerging Writers Group at the Public Theater.  He asked us to write a quick and fast play in ten minutes, and gave us all of these creative elements to storm the play with.  It included an orange rolling on the stage.  Someone eating food.  A ton of things that are not at all included in this play.  But what I did was write a quick scene between a father and a daughter who were estranged and had agreed to meet in a restaurant.  Daughter was giving the Dad a hard time.  This ended up being what SUNSET BABY is bulit on.  This dinner date that never happened.

That was the spark that got me writing this play. But once I discovered what I was writing, the inspiration to SUNSET BABY changed.  These few important things are what became my driving inspiration:  1- a picture my father took of me as a little girl (the picture described in the play is it), 2 - all of the Black activists throughout time that have shaped the world in which I live, and 3 - Tupac Shakur - one of the most complex and brilliant hip hop artists there ever was. 

  • The inspiration behind the pic my father took is self-explanatory.  I'm a knock-off of my ol' man and this is an homage to him, whether he wants it to be or not.  When you see the play, you’ll understand. 
  • The Black activists of the past--- this is different.  I am grateful for their contributions to the freedoms that I enjoy, yet I stand in recognition of their complicated struggles.  I find their layers intriguing.  How do you build a world and a home at the same time?  What gets lost in the struggle? These are the questions that ignite my play. 
  • Tupac Shakur-- this is most important.  He would've been in his forties now were he not a victim of gun violence in 1996.  I was always moved by his deeply thoughtful yet contradictory music.  One minute he'd be an intelligent orator breaking down the poverty-mentality of a lost generation, and the next he'd be the contributor to a violent generational abyss. How can my generation be so brilliant and so self-destructive at the same time? 
This is the question that guides my play.  In these explosive political times that we are living in, there is a great divide between the generations and how they perceive their role in politics.  This play puts each generation in direct contact with its greatest opposition, and forces them to pull off their gloves and make an impact happen.  State their position.  Be fearless in their cause (or lack of cause).  Believe in their rhetoric until it becomes the gospel.  And then see if they can’t be surprised.  This is about the parents of Black activism and its offspring confronting each other.

It is not a blame game.  It is not about dis-crediting a movement or a people.  It is about the un-treated wounds between the generations, and the hope for healing.  It is about love.  That is all...  


Sunset Baby will be part of our Rough Reading Nov. 12th at Stanford and 13th at the ACT Costume Shop in SF. It is 100% FREE of charge. A $20 donation in advance comes with a reserved seat and a drink!

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