Very interesting…i’ve sent out many letters of application for grants, residencies and whatnot for playwrights….i received another rejection today, the third, and it came at a time when i sat in rehearsal today and i watched black people do what they never get to do on stage….be complicated, full and beautifully human…those actors made me “ache” and hallelujah….and today for the first time i realized – I am a playwright. that the things i write about are as important to other people as they are to me whether or not i get the grant or get produced….letting go of all that is truly powerful…it connects me to other human beings…so i can look across a room and see a African American, burst into Spanish because Oshun was riding her to glory or to see a young man learn a Cuban lullabye in a language not his own in 24 hours ..and to watch him love the words, love the lost mother and find the power to bring her back from beyond even in a world where it is “so very hard to be black all day long under a white sun”….
this cast of actors are people who i’ve always wanted to give a job….because i’m an actor, i know when another actor is true and I’m willing to go to the limit fighting for them….and i thought: you are doing exactly what you want to do and are telling the exact story that you want to tell about a world black people dream in, but we never see on stage. and as i lined up the rejection letters today saying how my play made it to the finals, but alas was not accepted and those letters and today’s rehearsal finally helped me see: i am an exceptional playwright and it requires a love that is fearless, complicated and vigilantly committed to speaking truth in a profoundly deep way in order to feel my work…and i was set free….
i didn’t need to be going to any of those places that rejected me because today, my people sang to my soul….i loved Good Bread Alley into being, and these actors loved it into a play….i am doing what I’m supposed to be doing…what nobody else is doing: the hard thing, the thing we’re fearful we can’t sell or package or produce or fit it into our pat structure….which has it’s place….but i know how to do this writing thing (which scares the shit out me) because I must….I must paint a true picture of a people a century or so out of slavery…what we’ve become is magnificent….and i respect everyone’s choice of story….but no gets to give me the title” playwright”, that’s my inheritance. since we didn’t get our 40 acres and a mule, and since my grandmother scrubbed a white woman’s floor so i could go to Vassar College and watch her pass away before she could see me graduate…no, no…hell to the no…..I am a teller of the stories and i love, i mean love watching black artists revel in their humanity for the first time in my 15 year acting career…i was able to give them something worthy of their gifts…naw….I am right where i’m supposed to be….
April Yvette Thompson