What I experienced?
Note: If I'm seeing a show, leave 30 minutes extra cus the MTA never works when I have somewhere to be. Mannnn, I was on time but the house held for 20 minutes (reasonably) due to the hellish horrors of the MTA power outage... And it was opening night. Hi-Arts blessed my fam, Truthworker Theatre Company, with free tickets to The Peculiar Patriot at the National Black Theatre. #HARLEMMM . Their shows are always soul food so I was super excited for this opportunity.
Getting into the waiting area was blessed itself. So many Afrocentric humans with knowledge in their skull and flames in their heart... ahh, felt so at home. They had a gallery, a fountain, neon signs, a quilt, and several stations focused on power to the black woman as well as the harsh reality of the incarceration of women.
Now, in the theatre, the projectors show a silhouette of a woman being patted down and she enters through the door, we notice she's visiting someone in prison. She talks to her (invisible) friend, as I realized 2 minutes in, this is a one woman show.
When Liza Jessie Peterson spoke, she spoke to me. She spoke through me. She spoke with an accent I was too familiar with, no sugarcoating on her cupcake but still sweet. She was unapologetically black. Woke without denying the culture and environment she was brought up in. Bamboo earrings and afros, she had me captured. Liza spoke to her visitor on the real about men, the system, the hope she had in her....
You would assume you'd get bored of hearing prison visit conversations but Liza's personality was far from boring. My favorite part about Liza was when she reenacted her boyfriend. She'd switch up and spit straight facts on the prison industrial complex in a way anyone could understand then be like worrrrrrddd up. LMAO it was great, just great. I connected to her so much, about her heartbreaks and passion for the prison system.
The one line that got me at the end was her saying if you told her what mountain or county you were in... she could tell you what the local prison was. That's so sad man. The projector showed pastures and mountains while she compared the prisons to castles... that was a deep breath. IF YOU ARE INTO ANY KIND OF ACTIVISM, OR A DECENT HUMAN BEING - you should see this show. It will make you laugh for sure, maybe cry, but most importantly OPEN YOUR EYES to the real shit going on in the world.
After the talk back and community breath, I needed some time to breathe too. I couldn't help but reflect on my own community and friends. Reflection and fire.... I think that's what this play left me with. ✊🏽
Want to see it?
What did you experience?
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