Favorite Place: Prospect Park
Favorite Writer: Jhumpa Lahiri
Favorite Band: The National
Favorite Frightening Experience: Spending a night in the Amazon Jungle
Originally from Bangladesh, Samiha is always, as the kids may say, down for anything. She is currently studying Economics at The New School while trying to figure out what to do with her life. When not getting formally educated, Samiha can be found wandering around New York City or nonchalantly leaning against subway station pillars. Samiha is also an aspiring capitalist and hopes that one day she can make a small, but positive difference in the world with her capitalist schemes.
The tears come before the show even begins. For the first time in my life in America, I sit in a theatre where the show playing is titled in a language that I for far too long thought made me strange and unlovable.
Contrary to what its name might suggest, Underpants Godot is NOT (!!!) Samuel Beckett’s famous play Waiting for Godot being performed in underwear. Rather, it is a play about the play being performed in ways that the author may not have liked.
She doesn’t speak, she only yells to makes her pain known. Initially I feel a little annoyed – why does the brown woman always have to be portrayed as hysterical and out of control? But soon another part of me is strangely excited by this as I realize that no one is trying to quiet Medea or silence her rage – why aren’t more brown women shown angry in this way?
I lower my head as I walk under the shutter and step up into a small and warmly lit space. There are clusters of mismatched chairs surrounding what looks like a stage area, indicating that this is, indeed, an independent Brooklyn theatre.
A subway thunders through the theatre. The train stops and I get on. The discordant sounds of the train galloping through tunnels makes me feel anxious, like I'm running late for something. I peer into one subway car after another. In each one lies the usual dismal scene: passengers sitting or standing with vacant expressions on their faces, passively being transported from one place to another.
Four characters, through four other characters, confront parts of their identities that they’d rather forget: a woman whose mother left when she was a child meets her mother again, a transgender man who has always suppressed his femininity talks to his female reflection, a lonely comic book artist is confronted by a character he created, and a man on an acid trip talks to God about his habits.
Before the show even begins, I sense an air of whimsy at Hadestown, as the theatre has been turned into an amphitheater (of sorts) with a circular stage surround by tiers of wooden chairs and an orchestra. Even with audience members around me discussing distinctly New York City topics, like brunch and Broadway, I feel like I’m in a different place and a different time.
The women assemble on stage and introduce themselves as they were in the sixties: Elaine Brown, Afeni Shakur (Tupac’s mother!), Kathleen Cleaver, Assata Shakur, Ericka Huggins, Deborah Hampton. They are just a few of the numerous black women that took charge and initiative in the legendary Black Panther Party.
Can we take a minute to talk about how often women are shown senselessly murdered in works of fiction – especially in works by men? Or if they are not the ones being murdered they’re the ones “unhinged” enough to commit murder? Whether in television crime shows, movies, or even the news women are so rarely characterized as anything other than weak or psychotic, as victim or assailant.
Blood at the Root looks at this story through its roots in the months preceding the charges, in the months when the Jena Six were still considered boys, not men. It begins on an unusually hot fall day in the fictional town of Cedar, Louisiana. All the six onstage can really think or speak about is how insanely hot it is.