Written by Ms. Latrice P. Young
One of the biggest challenges I faced with my 2021 OnxyFest production, “Fly Blackbird Fly/Voices We Can’t Unhear”, was in making sure I looked at myself as the director, writer, and actor all individually. I reminded myself that doing so would honor the message and the spirit of the play (one of my biggest goals). While I was the writer, my interpretation of the work as director spoke to me in a way that my writer brain could never imagine and it made me refall in love with the play and the effect that it could have on audience members. I directed my cast with that same significance and urgency; at times even getting frustrated with cast members who incorrectly recited lines, missed the rhythm, lost the flow, or didn’t drive home the meaning of the play through the power of the message.
This play was in the form of a choreopoem and many people are not familiar with this form. Those who are familiar have mostly experienced chorepoetry through its creator, Ntozake Shange in her choreopoem, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf.” I really wanted to do the form justice. It’s a form I wish everyone could study in all schools and continue creating and researching, in addition to traditional theater. In order for us to do the form justice, we all needed to move, sing, and speak poetically because poetry is the heart of choreopoems, the language of theater, the expression of life.
Once everyone knew and understood the writing, we were able to bring out the emotions/feelings, the rhythm, the flow, the message, and the spirit of the play, not just for viewers but also for ourselves. I knew that the writer (who just so happened to be me) wanted everyone involved to go on the journey with the characters, and fully imagine themselves in the same situations and conditions. It took a great deal of honesty and vulnerability for us all to get to those spaces due to the mature content and traumatic experiences explored. However, by the final production, I could confidently say that each and every person in the cast had begun their own flights to healing and are still flying to their individual freedoms. By the end, we all understood that the writing, through many revisions and more to come, was written exactly as it was for a reason.
Now that I have written this play the way I wanted, directed the way I needed, and acted the way I envisioned; I am totally fine with allowing others to explore the play by letting it speak to them through their own interpretations and perceptions. I honestly look forward to others producing my play with my only involvement being the writer. I pray I’m alive to see/experience at least one of the productions. So, what’s my message for readers? Whether you’re acting in, writing, rewriting, directing, producing, or viewing a play/theater, remember to discover and honor the message and spirit of the play and “if you don’t know you better ask somebody”.
Ms. Latrice P. Young, also known as Distinctly Unique, is a choreo-poet, ghost writer, voice actor, private ESL instructor and Creator/Manager of Dunique LLC. from East Chicago and Gary Indiana. She graduated from Emerson Visual and Performing Arts High School in 2014 as Class Poet and Valedictorian and she graduated from Purdue University- West Lafayette as a Creative Writing major with minors in African-American Studies, Communication, Dance, Spanish, & Theater.