Ayodele's drama begins with poetry, call it a choreo poem in the tradition of For Colored Girls...." And the poetry is beautiful from the mouth of a poet known as Wordslanger, aka Dr. Ayodele Nzinga. Sad and glad to say, we can appreciate poetry in drama more than in the rap genre that destroys poetry with an over emphasis on rhyming that is mostly meaningless nursery rhymes. But Ayo's poetry advances the theme and this is good.
But, before the poetic beginning, we see a video by Wolfhawk Jaguar. It is based on the Yoruba tradition and it tries to suggest the nature of the myth-ritual that is about to happen. The video shows warriors in the Yoruba tradition and we hear the cast as chorus in a call and response to the Yoruba warriors, thus suggesting a connection between the narrative about to begin and the myth-ritual dance drama we witness in the video.
The play begins in a ritual healing circle of peers, formerly incarcerated men who come to share their testimonies. Dr. Nzinga, writer, director, producer, actress, plays the role of the clinician, guiding the lost and found to their healing destiny.
Again, the poetry is beautiful, meaningful, delightful, but then we transcend to the essential narrative of men talking together, a most unique experience but the ultimate choice of men at the end of their existential existence. Their very bodies and space are of questionable value. If they do not care, for sure, nobody else cares, especially since they are commodities on the stock market, they are constitutional slaves under the 13th Amendment. Yes, they are chattel real, personal property of the State!
Throughout the drama, the brothers come into the circle, check in, share and unravel the conundrums of their lives. Philosophical questions are pondered: what is life, what is home, what is identity, what is being, what is murder and death, what is revenge, what is pain and suffering, what is a mother's love, what is brother love?
After a life time of drama on and off stage, Ayodele constructs this most meaningful tragi-comedy of pain, suffering and ultimately joy. It is tragi-comedy for sure when the young man doesn't shoot the brother pleading for his gun that the man wants to use in a revenge murder.
When Ayodele took us to the video drama, it was overkill. We were still coming down from the central drama so ending the play with the video was unnecessary and a total distraction that sucked our energy away from the dramatic narrative.
Again, the writing was beautiful and powerful. Stanley Hunt's acting is outstanding. One could not distinguish the actors from the recently incarcerated in the cast. They were all believable.
Black August, 2017