Tuesday, June 26, 2018
It's About Joy!
Joy Sudduth rehearsing her character "Lorraine"
When my friend, Harry Waters Jr. asked me to write something about James Baldwin I thought he meant a monologue for him. He's a great actor (in the original "Angels in America") so I put together a monologue which he liked. Then he said: "Where's the rest of it. I'm looking for a 3 act play." I don't think anyone (other than Tony Kushner) could get away with a 3 act play but I went back to the computer and started to think about it. As fate would have it the monologue--a letter about Emmett Till--ended up really belonging to Lorraine, Jimmy's friend and advocate. Funny how that happens. Joy, rightfully named, brings the urgency of the times and the faith needed to make Lorraine, even in her anguish, seem unstoppable!
(Singing low as she enters carrying napkins and flatware) ‘Deep in my heart, I do
believe, we shall overcome some day.’
The song seems somewhat incongruous with the act of setting a table
but believe me, to a woman, nothing is incongruous. You and I sang
that song quite a bit, Jimmy. We all used to sing then. As if the singing
might wipe the fear and bitterness off of people’s faces. But, there you are. Three centuries of hatred need a little more than a four minute melody.
You are on the road so much! I missed singing with you at the memorial…the anniversary of Emmett Till’s murder.
Most of the Negroes…the Black people…in the little storefront were so choked with sorrow, Jimmy, they couldn’t get the words out. I was choked with irony. How closely tied are sex and blackness in this country? A boy, no more than 15 years old, beaten mercilessly and killed---by grown white men---because he’s perceived to be a threat to white womanhood.
It is 1956, for Gawd sake! How can I…or you…or Richard write a word
and hope it to have a single shred of meaning? It’s as if our dark skin is a
symbol of rampaging desire roaring in their ears!
Whatever words Emmett Till may or may not have said to that white girl—that
store clerk in Money, Mississippi—are irrelevant. Emmett Till had no voice at all.
His skin did all the talking.
Lights down on Lorraine
See you TheFlea Theater/NYC www.theflea.org W4G July 12-Aug 4
produced by www.tososnyc.org