Playwright Nick Mwaluko
It is nearly impossible to merge great art and smart politics.
Too often, even the most noble attempts end up wonk-HEAVY and art-LITE: “Let’s make a rap about water privatization!!” And when the art + politics formula fails, it fails big, in an awkward disaster of inauthenticity.
So when I met up with my friend last night to check out this new Fire! series of new plays featuring Black LGBT characters, I was at least a little cynical. I love the theater and I supported the idea, but some bad political drama (that shall remain nameless) from my recent past still hung heavy in my conscience.
I’m glad to say that this series, which kicked off last night with a reading of Are Women Human? by Nick Mwaluko promptly put me in my place and reminded me of the unique power of artistic expression to teach us about our lives and the times and places we share with others.
The reading, staged simply with minimal set and the most basic props and costumes, revolved around Sam, born Samantha, convinced that God intends her to be a boy. Along the way we see Sam grapple with gender and sexuality as s/he negotiates parents, bosses, friends and even a hilariously grim testosterone wielding doctor. With compelling performances, this abbreviated staged reading of Mr. Mwaluko’s work achieves tension without melodrama and weaves together the exasperations and elations of his lead character with subtlety and charm.
The series created by Freedom Train Productions and running on through the end of August, features plays in development, so you can expect a few bumps along the road. But if this blogger’s opinion matters (and it does) you should check out one of the next installments.
Are Women Human? plays again tonight and Super by Andre Lancaster (the project’s creative director) follows next week:
Plays in Development that Matter.
Every Wednesday and Thursday in August
South Oxford Space - 138 South Oxford Street, btwn Harriet Tubman and Atlantic in Brooklyn, NY