news | Friday August 12, 2022
Hot off the press! Moving the Centre: Two Plays is here! Consisting of “Small Axe” by Andrew Kushnir and “Freedom Singer” by Khari Wendell McClelland, Moving the Centre: Two Plays is a stellar double bill.
“Small Axe” follows a white, queer playwright who feels called to investigate homophobia in Jamaica. As he researches the issue and interviews the people whom it affects, his own orientation in the scatterplot of oppressions and intersections becomes unignorable. “Small Axe” features a pantheon of moving, vulnerable exchanges, granting each character their deserved depth. “Small Axe” invites us to discover the ways in which we are connected and asks us to tend to our own gardens for the betterment of the entire ecosystem.
An excerpt from “Small Axe”:
‘I tell you about … intolerance in the Ukrainian community that I have observed and experienced. About religion and machismo and all these things that you mentioned. I say, “I never get it, how people who have experienced the sting of oppression turn around and be homophobic. It’s the biggest contradiction.”
You see, I thought: My tattoo says the exact same thing.
But very kindly, very generously, you say, “No, my friend. It’s not exactly the same.”’
“Freedom Singer” by Khari Wendell McClelland is a musical/verbatim theatre hybrid documenting Khari Wendell McClelland’s research into his ancestral grandmother, Kizzy. Filled with song, recollection, and meaning-making, this excavation into the author’s past pays homage to ancestry, resilience, and the music that carries us from generation to generation. A work of memory and reverence, McClelland becomes an archaeologist; unearthing, reconstructing, and imagining lost aspects of Kizzy’s history.
An excerpt from “Freedom Singer”:
‘For my family, Kizzy is our mythological matriarch. She is a rock in a stormy sea. She is that point of reference, when I feel lost, when I feel despondent, when I don’t know where to turn, I often turn to her. Seems to me that if we all look back far enough, each and every one of us in this room has an Ancestor that’s walked a thousand miles in their bare feet so that we can all be here…
Kizzy reminds me of the distance I have travelled.’
The interplay between the two pieces is like a work unto itself. In between the plays is a conversation between Andrew Kushnir and Khari Wendell McClelland. The plays and their creators facilitate a dialogue about positionality and perspective in cultural production. Exploring the impact of Black “looking back” and the white gaze, these plays raise questions of how we can move toward more ethical, equitable performance practices.
Pick up your copy of Moving the Centre: Two Plays today!