What's it about?
Familiar is a play about a Zimbabwean family that is living in America that tries to both fit in and embrace their roots.
What'd I experience?
There was talking in the theatre, how it usually is before a show. Then, usually darkness falls upon the audience and lights on the stage. But nu uh, it was different. It began with the lights already up on stage. A man (*talks directly to the audience* wow, so I was going to say black man and then I asked myself why that was relevant. I guess it was because the show was about an African family with Zimbabwean roots, but that's not why. I thought to myself, whenever I write plays I never say lights up on a white man…. Because that's honestly all I ever see. My soul kinda cried a little. I actually felt the need to include he was a black man because it was different than what I normally see). This African man was replacing a painting of flowers with a painting of the map of Zimbabwe. Some people noticed him walk on the stage at different times so the audience hushed in a stagger.
The wife came out on stage and pestered him for changing the painting and had put the flower painting back up. It seemed like a silly struggle but it was very meaningful. He picked it up she put it back down. And so on and so on buttt he was trying to show her his love for Zimbabwe. She didn't want anything to do with it not because she wasn't proud of who she was but because she felt it was a past not worth revisiting.
A wedding was going to take place. The oldest daughter was getting married to a white man from Minnesota. It was different for the family and some may have held a little reservation but getting to know the guy they saw how cultured he was and how willing he was to learn. He even clapped and did the chant they do when entering into the house. I definitely want to look up more on that. I knew how intimidating it must feel to adapt to a whole new culture with someone that you are dating (and especially looking to wed), but it's also one of the funnest things in the world. This white man was willing to do the Roora which is a wedding ceremony in Zimbabwe culture where the groom pays a bride price to show they value the bride they are marrying. The parents kindly declined the offer since their chaotic aunt wanted him to pay $10,000 for a ceremony he was not even used to.
The father wanted to go back to Zimbabwe and give back to his people. He felt bad he was a middle class man with a great home and has family and friends that were living back in the slums. This made me hit up someone from my old school to see if the senior dues had passed, so I can give back to my high school by paying peoples senior dues. It had passed though. But now I can look for different ways to give back all around me. It was interesting how the mother didn't want to go because she came out of it and wanted to stay out of it.
It ended off with both the mother and father dancing to African music played by the daughter on an instrument I'm not sure the name of. The daughter was a songwriter and this was the first time anyone in her family really appreciated her art. She was ecstatic. Luckily, I can say I can't relate because my family has always supported me in whatever I am doing. But I can relate when it comes to friends, it's like the first time a friend comes to one of your first shows. It's beautiful. The father started dancing, then the mother felt it in her soul and started dancing as well. Beautiful. I'm not sure how else to describe it. It was a picture perfect representation of her embracing her culture and letting go of her assimilation. Kind of like when Puerto Ricans come here suavementeeeeee lmaooo.
The show definitely rekindled my love for my culture, maybe even made me fall in love with it even more. I knew I wanted to go home. Not back to my Brooklyn apartment. But Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. It was time and it was mine. I started counting down the days till February 25th when I would arrive at Aguadilla airport. My homeland. With the warm sun kissing my face and my spirit free and familiar to what has been missing inside of me for so long. My culture. My home. Puerto Rico.