Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I Interview Playwrights Part 897: nicHi douglas






nicHi douglas

Hometown: South Orange, New Jersey

Current Town: Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Q:  Tell me about your upcoming reading

A:  the reading is of Black Girl Magic Show (Part One), an absurd dance-theater piece spurred by the popular hashtag: #BlackGirlMagic. it's brand new for me to indulge in my own ideas in this fully realized manner and I can't wait to share. I encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the hashtag right away.

Q:  What else are you working on now? 

A:   I am primarily a performer, so I'll be flitting around town (the MET Breuer is up next) dancing and acting in things. I'm also working on Parts Two and Three of Black Girl Magic Show.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  I grew up going to a private school that very wealthy folks sent their kids too. I didn't grow up wealthy, but was surrounded by White wealth for 75% of the day, 5-6 days a week from the time I was 6 until high school graduation. when I was like 7 or 8, I went for a sleepover party at an especially affluent friend's house. when my mother and I arrived at the house, we rang the doorbell. a man, my friend's father, answered the door. upon seeing us, he said, "No, thank you" to my mother, and then closed the door. it didn't register to me. I didn't understand and still have difficulty fathoming what exactly occurred. like, what about two tiny people (a 5'0'' woman and a child) standing at your doorstep warrants, "No, thank you"? honestly, it's hard, even now -- fully grown-up, with a handle on how I view race and discrimination in this country as it pertains to me as Black woman -- for me to put any of my thoughts on this particular moment in my brief history into coherent words.

my mother paused to breathe. I remember this. and then she did something that I do now when I have to inform a White person, at least I'm guessing that this is what she did. she (maybe 33 at the time) grounded and centered herself. she probably swallowed hard and told herself that this stupid social gathering was worth the humiliation - for me, her child. she rang the doorbell again and quickly and forcefully said, "We're here for the sleepover". and the man. the White man. I wish I could remember what his face did when she said that. I imagine his face was overcome with shame and apology. but I don't think that's what happened. I think his next words were, "Oh, come on in!". as if. as if. as if he hadn't just. closed the door in our faces. mere moments ago.

I know my White friends will read this and think/say something along the lines of, "I'm sorry this happened to you". but honestly, keep your "sorry" to yourself. this memory is half a drop in the canyon-sized bucket. 
 
WHITE PEOPLE: what are you doing to make sure you and people in your family aren't behaving this way? take responsibility. oh, you're not racist? good job. do you know someone who is? get to work.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  who it's run by.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  to be Black, female and "successful" (in any industry) in the Western world requires a great deal of theatrics indeed.

I am most inspired my mother, my sister, Harriet Tubman, and my self.

and I am guided by the spiritual and ancestral energy of the heroic Black women before me (deceased and alive); the list is endless.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I am excited by theatre with a clear point of view, that includes me in its narrative, or includes other disenfranchised folks.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  fuck rules. say what you want to say the way you want to say it. that's my advice for everyone.

Q:  Plugs, please: 

A:  I read this as "Pugs, please". anyway ... have a baby getting ready for pre-school? send him/her/them to Maple Street School. interested in an art class (for ages 0-100)? come to Abrons Arts Center. need someone to choreograph something? EMAIL ME.

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