Ungrateful Daughter: One Black girls story of being adopted into a White family... that aren't celebrities.
nytheatre.com q&a preview by Lisa Marie Rollins
July 30, 2012
What is your job on this show?
When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I’ve been performing in some capacity or another since I was young. I sang all the way through high school until I became a cheerleader and wanted to yell instead of sing. At university I got involved in theater in a formal way, and my very first mentor and theater profession, Kathryn Ervin lit a fire in me. She was the first person to help me to understand something about my multiracial black identity. She did it through contextualizing the history of black theater and performance as a method of resistance, as a method of expression in completely complex circumstances. I was changed forever after that. It was the first time I saw myself as belonging somewhere. Additionally, I’m first and foremost a writer, and the scripts that she chose for us to work on were so beautiful, so it got me thinking a lot about the literary aspect of stagecraft. At that time though, I loved working backstage and on the production side, watching everything come together. I was on stage in a few productions and enjoyed stage time and stage play as well, so I got to experience both. In the past 6 or 7 years though, I find that I’m happiest just being in the theater doing ANYTHING. I could stay there all day and sometimes I do.
Why did you want to be part of FringeNYC?
I love the buzz around FringeNYC, the quirkiness and the full on firecracker energy I feel from it each year. There are many folks that I respect and whose work I adore from the San Francisco / Oakland Bay Area and around the world who have brought their shows to FringeNYC, so I feel like I’m in amazing company. I’m excited to let the East see what I’ve been writing and how I take on a subject that is only usually seen in media as “Celebrity Adopts a Brown / Red/ Yellow kid from the Third World of Wherever! Isn’t that awesome?” Also, I know many folks have been waiting for me to bring it here for a long time, so I’m thrilled to finally have the NYC Premiere.
Do you think the audience will talk about your show for 5 minutes, an hour, or way into the wee hours of the night?
It is totally my hope that people will talk about my show until the wee hours of the night. The text is very multilayered, and from the feedback I get from audiences, it seems that there are different moments that touch people. I hope there will be long discussions about ‘what do you think she was saying there’? or, “do you think she meant to have this as a subtext?’ or ‘wow that part made me cry or laugh so hard’. I have a joke that adoptees who come see the show might need therapy after, so, I’m always down for a cocktail.
Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
Surprising. Its funny how strongly people react to the title. Especially adoptive parents and potential adoptive parents. Most folks get it, but some people just focus on the "Ungrateful" part, and dont actually get that its a satirical play on the idea that adoptees *have* to be 'grateful' because we were saved from whatever horror people tell us we would have had. It's just a push back against that. And the play really has two other subplots going, that are deeply connected to the impact of international / transracial adoption, but again, aren't just about some chick whining on stage about her parents.