What play, musical, or theatrical event – anywhere in the world – most excited/inspired you this season?
Here's my contribution:
Having experienced both IN THE CONTINUUM and ECLIPSED, the play I was most excited to see this season was Danai Gurira’s THE CONVERT at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. In fact, the previous two productions had been produced by Woolly as well. It’s encouraging to see a theatre devoted to supporting, developing and nurturing the work and voice of a single playwright. It’s exciting to see the work of the playwright grow under such focused attention. Danai’s writing is sharp and distinctive. Her ability to convey cultural identity is masterful and compelling. Her emotional landscapes are raw, bold, and provocative. Her sense of history, the way that history shapes, defines, obliterates and propels us forward is lyrical, palpable and honest.
While specific to Zimbabwe--to the formation of Zimbabwe’s cultural, historical and political identity as a colony--and set in 1895, THE CONVERT resonated so deeply and completely with me. Specifically, it was the women’s stories that spoke to me. I admired Mai Tamba’s stubbornness, humor and sense of honor. I championed Jekesai’s desire for a better life and for a choice in what her life would be. I also understood the push and pull of her sacrifice.
The Convert is a story of survival. It is the story of social mobility; of access to education, opportunity and wealth; and of the ability to exercise personal freedom. Again, I truly appreciated how rich, challenging and dynamic the lives of the women were. At a time, when the reproductive rights of women are being attacked in this country, this play seemed to speak on some level to the struggles that women are facing today.
This was originally printed in the 2013 Season In Review issue of The Dramatist, the official journal of Dramatists Guild of America.
Of course, D.C. audiences will remember Woolly's powerful production of Danai Gurira's The Convert under the direction of Michael John Garcés featuring Dawn Ursula (Clybourne Park, Eclipsed), Starla Benford, Nancy Moricette, Irungu Mutu, JaBen Early, Alvin Keith, and Erik Kilpatrick. Please enjoy these wonderful production photos by Stan Barouh.