When the world doesn't make sense, writers look for ways to deal with the insanity. Novels, documentaries, investigative journalism... And plays. Playwrights use the forum of the stage to poke and prod at the issues, to turn them over and ponder them. They don't necessarily provide answers. But they do offer questions.
The Trayvon Martin case -- where a gun-toting man named George Zimmerman shot and killed an unarmed kid and then used Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law as an excuse -- sparked debate and horror in a lot of quarters. It comes as no surprise that the issues of racism, privilege and injustice in our neighborhoods and in our legal system illuminated by the Trayvon Martin debacle have prompted a response on the dramatic front.
New York's New Black Fest, "a gathering of artists, thinkers, activists and audiences who are dedicated to stretching, interrogating and uplifting the Black aesthetic," commissioned Facing Our Truth, a collection of short plays responding to the Trayvon Martin case written by some of America's hottest and most exciting theatrical voices. The playwrights include Marcus Gardley (Every Tongue Confess, dance of the holy ghost), Tala Manassah and Mona Mansour (they co-wrote After, while Mansour is the author of That Hour of Feeling, a Humana Festival play, among others), Winter Miller (In Darfur), Dominique Morisseau (Detroit ’67), Dan O’Brien (The Body of an American) and A. Rey Pamatmat (Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, another Humana Festival hit).
When Facing Our Truth premiered last December in New York, there were six total pieces, including Pamatmat's "Some Other Kid," Morisseau's "Night Vision," Miller's "Colored," "No More Monsters Here" by Mansour and Manassah, and "The Ballad of George Zimmerman," a folk opera written by O’Brien with composer Quetzal Flores.
Facing Our Truth: Short Plays on Trayvon, Race & Privilege is slated to play various places around the U.S., including -- next Monday -- a performance at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. This special reading of the plays in Facing Our Truth begins at 7 pm in the Goodman's Owen Theater on March 3. Reservations are required, but you will not be able to make them online. You'll need to call the Goodman directly at 312-443-3800.