by Rachel Lynett
“A family of black women mourning the death of a young black man.
It’s almost like some Greek tragedy.”
When I’m feeling particularly clever, I like to say that Good Bad People is an adaptation of a Greek tragedy. Ask me which one and I would love for that answer to be all of them. What draws me to the tragedies is probably the same thing that drove me to write this play: how can you mourn someone with dignity and simultaneously fight for justice at the same time? What does justice look like when even “grief time” slows you down? And more importantly, why do we ask those who are mourning to carry the first torch in the revolution? As empowering as it is to see, why does Lezley McSpadden[i] have to run for mayor to get justice for her son and the young men that look like him? Like Antigone carrying the body of her dead brother and demanding justice, June and Audre have to choose: fight for justice for a brother who was wrongfully killed or bury their brother in peace without the world watching. I hope one day no family has to make that choice.
[i] Lezley McSpadden is the mother of Michael Brown. Her son was wrongfully murdered by a white police officer on August 9, 2014. Four years later, almost to the day, McSpadden announced her run.
The "theme" of our April call for submissions was "public safety." This category was intentionally broad, and Rachel's play Good Bad People touches on it in a couple of different ways. First and foremost, it deals with systematic racism and police brutality. Alone, these are issues that directly impact the safety of our citizenry -- especially citizens of color, who are disproportionately affected. But the play also touches on gun violence. The characters in the play are grappling with the death of Amiri, who was shot to death by an officer. Guns cannot be taken out of the equation.
Talk Back Theatre aims to share a playwright's work and use it as a jumping-off point for conversation. Our post-show conversation will center around these public safety issues. TBT is forming the panel now, and we know that in addition to providing a platform to talk about racial justice, we will be discussing grief and loss and the nature of storytelling -- and why it's so important.
Yesterday we introduced you to Rachel Lynett, our Fall 2018 Playwright. Now we share a bit about the chosen play, GOOD BAD PEOPLE, which will serve as the artistic centerpiece for a community conversation around grief and loss, gun violence, racism and police brutality, and the media's place responding to tragedy. The play was developed with Jackalope Theatre and dramaturg Heather Helinsky, and we are so excited to bring it to our SoCal audience!
In GOOD BAD PEOPLE, June returns home in an attempt to make amends with her family after her brother, Amiri, is shot by a police officer. But when her family refuses to make a statement and her personal beliefs are questioned, suddenly June is forced into the spotlight and must decide which is more important: making amends with her family or standing up for her brother's life.
After reading through over 150 submissions and making some tough calls, we are pleased to announce our next playwright! Meet Rachel Lynett below, and stay tuned for a post tomorrow to learn about her powerful play we'll be bringing to Orange County in September: GOOD BAD PEOPLE!
Rachel Lynett is an Arkansas-based playwright and theatre artist. Her recent playwriting credits include HE DID IT as part of UCF's inaugural Pegasus PlayLab (June 2018); GOOD BAD PEOPLE as a finalist for Artemisia, A Chicago Theatre (2018), a finalist for Henley Rose Award (2018), part of American Stage Theatre Company's 21st Century New Voices New Play Festival (2018), part of Jackalope Theatre's CIRCLE UP series (2017) and a finalist for Unicorn Theatre Plays In Progess (2018); WELL-INTENTIONED WHITE PEOPLE as the Downstage Left Residency with Stage Left (2017), part of Orlando Shakespeare New Play Festival (2017), and receiving honorable mention for the 2017 Kilroys for her play (2017. Her play, ABORTION ROAD TRIP received a workshop production produced by Theatre Prometheus as part of Capital Fringe where it won Best Comedy (2017) and then was later presented by Theatre Prometheus, as a part of the 2017 Kennedy Center Page to Stage Festival. Other recent credits include her play ABORTION ROAD TRIP credited as a semifinalist for The Bridge Initiative 2017, CHOOSING YOU as part of the CulturalDC Source Festival 2016, BREATHE ME IN as a semi-finalist for the O’Neill Playwright’s Conference 2016, and BREATHE ME IN as a finalist for the Kernodle Play Award (2016). WELL-INTENTIONED WHITE PEOPLE will have its world premiere with Barrington Stage Company in August 2018.
With heavy hearts, we want to honor our founding advisory board member, Courtny Eddeen Greenough, whose memorial took place in Temecula today. Courtny was a driving force in launching TBT, and we join the rest of the local arts community in mourning her loss, remembering her impact, and celebrating her life.
Thank you to everyone who came out to our staged reading of ANOTHER REVOLUTION last night, and congrats to creative team on a great show! Another big thank you to our insightful, articulate, and all around awesome panelists who led a great conversation post-show.
With the support of our audience, TBT raised almost $100 to support the Stoneman Douglas students' March for Our Lives. If you didn't get a chance to contribute last night, it's not too late to check out this link and support these young activists as they work to change the world.
Thank again to everyone who made last night possible, and keep your eye on this page for news about our next open call for submissions... It's right around the corner!
A casual chat with Patrick about Talk Back Theatre and the upcoming reading!
Let's talk about Reason #3 to see ANOTHER REVOLUTION: the real world issues. As part of its mission, TBT collects contributions for a cause chosen by the playwright that reflects the themes or subject matter of her play. This cycle, playwright Jacqueline Bircher has chosen to support the Stoneman Douglas students and their March for Our Lives, a contemporary testament to student activism.
In 1968, student protesters were on the front lines of the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, fighting against a culture that perpetuated racism and forced their peers into a senseless war. Now, exactly 50 years later, the courageous students of Parkland, FL are following in their footsteps, turning thoughts into action, and a tragedy into a movement.
I hope you'll join me in supporting these fearless young men and women by donating to the March For Our Lives. They are the direct descendants of the students of the 1960s who fought for peace, equality, justice, the environment, and the future of this tiny blue dot we call home.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr told us: "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Stand with these kids. They're bending the universe.
Please consider contributing via the link below, or in person at our March 8 staged reading event of ANOTHER REVOLUTION.
GoFundMe here: https://www.gofundme.com/8psm8-march-for-our-lives