by Suzan-Lori Parks
Yale School of Drama Iseman Theater, October 1 – 3 2015
Director: Joan Macintosh. Sets: Joo Hyun Kim. Lighting: Elizabeth Mak.
Sound: Fan Zhang. Costumes: Katherine Touart. Projections: Johnny Moreno.
Photography: Christopher Thompson.
Fucking A, the troubled story of a mother, her son, and her fucking A. It was vitally important to me that I balance on the same emotional tightrope that the play treads, taking care to equally represent the danger, gallows humour, sorrow, and vengeance that are ever present. Playing with the projected TALK animations as well as with the songs written into the script became fascinating challenges, for I had to make sure that the vocabulary I used never departed from the established world of the play.
From the beginning of the process, I saw lighting as constantly echoing the violence and injustice in this poor seaside town. Research images came from shantytowns in Cuba and South Africa, and from lighting practitioners who use light in a graphic and expressionist manner. In a thrust configuration, diagonal sources of light became a significant way to cut through the space. I also used diagonal slashes on the walls to imbalance every scene, in imitation of the raw brutality of the action.
The production made a particular choice to dress the character of Monster in a hoodie a la Trayvon Martin, and I used that to either obscure his face to reinforce the stereotype of a male black criminal, or to reveal his face to highlight his humanity, his pain, and his suffering.