NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2015 Volume 15.2 - Page 34

Suzan-Lori Parks’ FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS: By PAUL CARTER HARRISON PHOTOGRAPHY BY EVGENIA ELISEEVA COURTESTY OF WWW.AMERICANREPERTORYTHEATER.ORG an arrested development 32 “Since history is a recorded or remembered event, theatre, for me is the perfect place to ‘make’ history — that is, because so much of African-American History has been unrecorded, disremembered, washed out, one of my tasks as playwright is to — through literature and the special strange relationship between theatre and real-life — locate the ancestral burial ground, dig for bones, find the bones, hear the bones sing, write it down.” — Parks, “Possession1” Ah, forever thus, what a great gettin-up-in-da-mornin’-day that will be when the Ancestral Spirits awaken Ms. Parks as she takes on her mission to resurrect their song. It was not too long ago that an Artistic Director of one of America’s most popular Regional Theatre companies gleefully announced to me that her company was performing selections from Ms. Parks’ 365 DAYS/365 PLAYS, a series of embryonic ruminations conceived as one-play-a-day-for-a-year, written, according to Ms. Parks, as “a daily meditation, a daily prayer celebrating the rich and strange process of a writing life.” It seemed to me like much ado ‘bout nuttin’ so I asked, without intentional impertinence, but mere curiosity, “Why?” to which the Artistic Director replied, “It was fun,” provoking my incredulous response, “Fun?” — this effectively shut down the initial pleasantries of our lunch, which suddenly got swallowed-up in dyspeptic silence. It occurred to me that no matter how serious Ms. Parks’ aspirations, the national circuit of regional theaters does not take her seriously. To them, her whimsical post-modern deconstruction of black experience amounts to a welcomed entertainment for a mid-brow regional subscription base only too happy to assuage the monotony of their doldrums