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Absurdism and Me

I’ll admit it.

I’ve become obsessed with the absurd. Which is interesting. Absurdism is something that’s usually relegated to cream-of-the-crop white male writers—individuals who have hammered the American theatre and changed it for, arguably, the better. I think white men are allowed to be absurd without question because of society’s normalization of the white male experience. If the white male story is a universal story, and the experiences of those outside of that experience are not, it would make total sense for the white male to stand in for humanity, serve as a gateway to stories about the human condition. That said, absurdism, as I understand it, is not about sense. Absurdism is about the ways that language and logic get in the way of making sense of the human condition. So, what’s up?

In my thesis, I tackled Lucky’s monologue in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Obviously, the piece was technically challenging, but the dramaturgical choices that I made were what assisted me as an actor in the telling of that truth. I, a man of color, played Lucky in blackface. Doing so illuminated elements of the black experience I’ve never had the words to describe. Every night, I felt relieved to say what I said, regardless of the fact that I, still, lacked an ability to discuss what I was doing with that piece.

I think in a world that seems to be falling apart around me, absurdism makes the most sense right now. Playwrights like Suzan-Lori Parks, Young Jean Lee, and Aleshea Harris—descendants of Theatre of the Absurd—are more important to produce now than ever. And I really hope to be able to be a part of the telling of those stories. We need an artistic revolution in this country, and we need it now.


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