Sunday, February 12, 2017

Welcome to the Everyday Afroplay Production Journal

After the first meeting for this latest incarnation of Everyday Afroplay, to be presented at JACK in Brooklyn this April 2017, and a few subsequent conversations I have had with the author, Daaimah Mubashshir, it became clear that creating a digital space for the creative team to share and discuss materials and ideas would be a productive endeavor. The disparate nature of the play, with its many and varied constituent pieces--shifting constantly in length and breadth of form and substance--and the decision to involve multiple directors taking the piece simultaneously in multiple directions, who will conduct rehearsals at least to some extent separately, signaled a distinct need to carve out extra time and space for communal reflection and creation. Given that there are so many of us, the dimensions of that space and time seemed more appropriately served by the loose bounds of the digital than the demanding confines of the physical.

Additionally, the broad terms under which Everyday Afroplay exists, as an unassuming exploration of blackness, require a focused contextualization with outside materials, popular and academic, that inspire or compliment its fundamental inquiries: How far does blackness stretch? Who is black? What is black? Where does blackness come from? Is blackness real? And who and how can we talk about these things?

Thus, the Everyday Afroplay Production Journal was conceived. In this space, myself and anyone involved in the production can freely share the materials that they find or live with every day that shape their relationship to Everyday Afroplay and its underlying ideas. From writers and thinkers like Fred Moten, James Baldwin, and Nell Irvin Painter, to artists like Chris Ofili, to iconic figures like August Wilson, and their critics when they arise, I hope to present rich and varied perspectives that faithfully tackle the complexities and nuance of race, how we read it, construct it, internalize it, and project it.

Equally, as various portions of the production are rehearsed in likely isolation, I hope to reflect back to the entire group what progress is being made at each rehearsal which I manage to attend. The intention is not so much to give a detailed accounting of time spent and quantifiable advancements in craftsmanship or line memorization made but rather to track where interests lie, where problems with the substance of the play, its structure, or the overall structure of the production--how its being made and why--might come from, how the various pieces might be fitting together and perhaps as a forum for suggesting the direction various portions of the play, big or small, might wisely head.

In its most ambitious incarnation, this document, as a record of our process but also as a performance of our conversations about this piece, might serve as an audience-facing supplement, a place where those spectators wishing for pre or post engagement with the play and its various topics of interest can enrich their engagement with the work.