“REPARATIONS”

Encore: November 15, 2019

We will share the details about a provocative new play at the Billie Holiday Theatre that tackles the ripple effects of America’s legacy of racism.

For ticket information click here .

Aired on November 15, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

A RECENTLY WIDOWED BOOK EDITOR HAS AN AFFAIR WITH A YOUNGER BLACK WRITER.

SOON AFTER THEIR DARK SECRETS ARE REVEALED.

THAT IS THE SET UP FOR REPARATIONS, A PLAY DRAWING RAVE REVIEWS AND NOW PART OF THE NEW WINDOWS FESTIVAL.

THE PLAY EXPLORES THE DYNAMIC OF RACE, CLASS, AND GENDER IN TODAY'S AMERICA PROMPTING THE AUDIENCE TO THINK ABOUT THE PRICE OF RACIAL INJUSTICE.

AND TALKING ABOUT THE PLAY, ONE OF THE STARS, LET'S START WITH THE TITLE AND THEN WHAT THE PLAY IS ABOUT.

BECAUSE IF YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT IT, YOU HEAR THE TITLE AND YOUR THOUGHT IS FINANCIAL RESTITUTION AND IT IS ABOUT SO MUCH MORE.

HOW DID YOU BRIEFLY DESCRIBE IT SO FRIENDS AND RELATIVES WHEN YOU DECIDED TO DO THIS?

OH, I SAY SOMETHING SIMILAR TO THAT.

I SAY COME IN WITH AN EXPECTATION AS WE ALL WILL ABOUT REPARATIONS, ABOUT LIKE YOU SAID FINANCIAL RESTITUTION, MAKING AMENDS, AND EXPECT THAT HALFWAY THROUGH THE FIRST ACT, THE EXPECTATIONS YOU HAD IT WILL BE FLIPPED.

AND I NEVER TRIED TO GIVE AWAY THAT.

BECAUSE OF EVERYTHING THAT IT WOULD HURT SO MUCH.

THERE IS A LOT OF GREAT TWISTS THAT MAKE IT, LIKE YOU SAID ABOUT CLASS, ABOUT RACE, ABOUT GENDER.

AND LBGTQ.

THERE IS A LOT OF THINGS IN HERE THAT ARE HIT NOT ON THE HEAD TOO MUCH, BUT JUST PERFECTLY PLACED TO MAKE YOU THINK ABOUT THE THINGS HAPPENING IN THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW.

WHAT HAS THE REACTION BEEN THAT YOU'RE SEEING FOR THE AUDIENCES AFTER THE PLAY IS PERFORMED?

FIRST, I LOVE THE BILLY HOLIDAY THEATER.

WE DID A STORY ON IT HERE IN FACT.

SO MUCH WONDERFUL AND HISTORICAL WORK WITH HISTORICAL ACTORS THERE.

YES, AND THE AUDIENCE IS INSTANT.

I DON'T EVEN HAVE TO WAIT FOR INTERMISSION TO LISTEN TO THE VOICES.

THEY'RE HAPPENING RIGHT THERE DURING THE SHOW AND THIS IS THE TYPE OF SHOW THAT YOU CAN LAUGH, AND YOU CAN CRY, OR YOU KNOW WHATEVER YOU'RE PROVOKED TO DO.

THIS IS THE TYPE OF THOUSAND WHERE THAT HAPPENS.

SO EVERY NIGHT WE'RE FINDING THAT SOME OF THE THEMES HITTING PEOPLE VERY HARD, BUT MORE THAN ANYTHING, AFTER I WALK OUT, AS WELL AS MY OTHER CAST MATES AND WE WALK OUT AFTER THE SHOW TO MEET THE AUDIENCE, WE'RE FINDING OUT THAT PEOPLE ARE BEING HEALED.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS.

THERE ARE SO MANY EXPERIENCES AND DIFFERENT ASPECTS WHETHER IT IS THROUGH PHYSICAL ABUSE, SEXUAL ABUSE, RACIAL INEQUALITY, DISENFRANCHISEMENT, THIS TRAUMA, WE DON'T SEE IT PRESENTED ON STAGE IN A WAY IN WHICH YOU SEE SOMEONE THAT REFLECTS YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE AND HOW THEY'RE DEALING WITH FORGIVENESS AND THAT TRAUMA.

SO MY CHARACTER, THIS YOUNG NOVELIST, WHO IS TRYING TO GET THIS CHARACTER AND THE JUSTICE THAT HE WANTS FOR BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA, HE IS STRUGGLING AND BATTLING WITH A LOT OF THOSE PARTICULAR THINGS.

AND WHEN I TALK TO PEOPLE AFTERWARDS, THEY'RE HOLDING THEIR CHEST AND THEY'RE HOLDING THEIR HEARTS, AND THEY'RE SAYING THANK YOU.

THEY'RE SAYING THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR PRESENTING THIS.

THANK YOU FOR THE PLAYWRIGHT, MY STORY WAS REFLECTED ON THAT STAGE AND I FEEL LIKE I CAN GO FORWARD, AND HELP AND HEAL FROM THIS.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT YOUR CORPORATE BUSINESS WORLD AND YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN A VERY DIFFERENT BUSINESS THERE.

I WANT TO DO THAT.

WHAT DO FANS SAY WHEN YOU SAY GUESS WHAT I'M GOING TO DO NEXT.

I'M LUCKY TO HAVE VERY SUPPORTIVE FAMILY MEMBERS AND GREAT FANS TO DO IT.

I FEEL LIKE EVERYTHING IS ROOTED IN THERE, TOO.

LOVE AND FEAR, AND SOMETIMES YOU FEAR IF I GET OUT OF THIS PARTICULAR CAREER I WON'T HAVE THE FINANCIAL STABILITY OR I WON'T FIND SUCCESS, AND THOSE ARE JUST ALL OF THE FEARS AND I CHOSE LOVE AT THE TIME AND I SAID I HAVE WIBEEN WORKING IN CORPORATE AMERICA 13 OR 14 HOURS A DAY, AND THAT IS WHAT I LOVE TO DO.

THEY CAN SEE IT IN MY EYES, THEY TALKED ABOUT IT, THAT I DID NOT SEE WHEN THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT MY CORPORATE JOB.

THEY'RE LIKE YOU HAVE TO GO BE HAPPY.

I ONLY SAW THAT YOU GET TO THE BACK END AND YOU SAY TO YOURSELF YOU KNOW WHAT?

WHY DIDN'T I TRY THAT, WHY DIDN'T I TAKE A SHOT AT IT.

YEAH, YOU WILL FIND OUT.

LET ME ASK ONE BIG PICTURE QUESTION ABOUT THE PLAY.

IN LOOKING AT SORT OF THE MISSION STATEMENT, THE DESCRIPTION ABOUT THIS, AND WHAT THEY'RE DOING, ONE OF THE LINES THAT CAUGHT MY ATTENTION WAS THAT THE QUOTE THAT WAS AFRICAN-AMERICAN STORY IS THE VERY FOUNDATION OF THE AMERICAN STORY.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT MEANS?

HONESTLY I THINK THAT QUOTATION IS FAR REACHING, AND IT IS PROFOUND IF CAN MEAN ANYTHING TO ANYONE.

BUT TO ME, WHAT I THINK IT IS SAYING IS THAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT SURROUNDED THE AFRICANS BEING ENSLAVED AND BROUGHT TO AMERICA AT THAT PARTICULAR TIME, AND THE 1600s, THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE, THE COUNTRY TRULY BEGAN WITH SLAVERY.

I MEAN, WE CAN LOOK --

SO INTERWOVEN THAT YOU CAN'T --

YOU CAN'T SEPARATE THE TWO.

YOUF CAN'T SEPARATE THE INDUSTRIES FROM THE COTTON, THE TEXTILES, THE BANKS, AND ALL OF THE INDUSTRY THAT CAME.

WE'RE LEARNING MORE AND MORE ABOUT THAT NOW.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES BUILT LITERALLY ON THE BACKS OF SLAVES.

IT IS A FLAY IT MAKES YOU THINK, IT MAKES YOU WANT TO TALK, AND THAT IS THE GREATEST VIRTUAL OF ANY KIND OF ART THAT WE CAN PROVIDE.

I THINK THE FOLKS IN THE THEATER, FILM, AND TV WORLD ARE THRILLED THAT YOU MADE THAT SHIFT.

APPRECIATE IT.

A REMINDER FOR YOU FOLKS OUT THERE, REPARATIONS ARE PLAYING AT THE BILLIE HOLIDAY THEATER

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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