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Why Lenelle Moïse’s Expatriate was so great.

“I love the theatre because you can combine forms of communication.” -Lenelle Moïse

A brief manifesto on why Lenelle Moïse’s “Expatriate” is the kind of theatre I want to create.

  • It had entirely cohesive design elements. From the abstract movements introduced in the first scene to the bowls of water dotting the back wall of the theatre, no element of design was not threaded through the entire show.
  • It blended art forms. I was inspired by the seamless, unapologetic relationship between music, movement and words. It helped blend the worlds of realism and surrealism, giving them each equal weight in being “real.”
  • It was true. It felt as though this piece must surely be autobiographical because of the level of truth in it.
  • It wasn’t preachy. How often do you go to politically-charged, racially-charged, LGBTQ-charged theatre that isn’t preachy??? How did she do that?
  1. Music had a lot to do with it.
  2. It also didn’t apologize for what it felt was true, which probably helped. If she had an opinion about what it means to be black in this country, she stated it and in that moment in the lives of those characters it was true, so it became true to the audience.
  3. She’s just that much of a badass.
  •  It works anywhere/Specificity through universality. Moïse didn’t exclude the audience members who don’t know what it’s like to be growing up Black in the Projects of Boston. She didn’t need to explain it in a monologue. She let the story tell the story, and I walked away feeling as though I understood a window into a world not my own.
  • It demonizes no one. Isn’t demonizing too easy anyway?

I know a lot of you didn’t get to see Expatriate. Here’s an interview with Lenelle Moïse to give you a little window into her point of view as an artist. It includes a sample of the kind of music she performed live during Expatriate, so give it a listen! I’m also providing a link to her website. Keep tabs on this one. She’s freaking amazing.

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