Contributed by Marcus Dargan
One does not easily forget the first time they write, direct and produce their own play. For me that play was Antichrist Lament. It was 2006, a post 9/11 America struggling with racial profiling and terrorism. I initially wrote it to address reparations; however, the work grew into a commentary on contemporary racism in America from the perspective of the African American male.
I had so much to say and wasn’t afraid to say it. I made of list of every issue concerning the Black experience and found a way to incorporate each of them in it. I eventually threw in everything but the kitchen sink in that play.
It was sincere, raw and personally passionate. That production was definitive for me as an artist and this past week I had the opportunity to reflect on and embrace my first experience through viewing Bisa Dawes’ The Boogeyman: Diaries of a Broken Home.
The Boogeyman is Bisa’s first venture as a playwright, director and producer of her own show. Presented as part of the Summer 2014 Thespis Theater Festival, The Boogeyman, just like the first work of any artist, is also sincere, raw, and personally passionate.
Wendy (Michelle Cammarata), Leah (Sasha Morales), and Tyrone (Thaddeus Street) have all lost their innocence at an early age growing up in broken homes. They now live in abusive relationships with others and within themselves. They take distinctly different paths yet they share a bond in the cycle of abuse that has infected their adult lives.
A successful business woman, homeless man, and incarcerated murderer find strength in one another to overcome the demons that haunt them when placed in a support group together. The monologues in which the characters share their personal stories and accompanying scenes of rape and abuse are sincere, candid and brutally real.
Bisa does not hide the grotesque and vulnerable aspects of the human condition. She challenges the audience to view the true horror in the actions of abuse and how it transforms ones physical and spiritual being.
Though The Boogeyman is crude and raw, it is very genuine. It is surreal in that it often tells the story through rough transitions of dream sequences, poetry, modern dance and contemporary song.
There is one scene in which the cast stops the performance to sound off statistics on child abuse. It is a heartfelt plea to effect change, not from a group of actors, but from everyday people within our community.
The personal passion and commitment behind the work and its message is evident in the entire ensemble. The cast of 19 is reflective of diverse talents, ages, and backgrounds. This includes two children (one as young as seven years of age), a comedian, film and theatre students, and seasoned professionals. These emerging artists, actors, dancers, and musicians generously perform alongside each other sharing the stage collectively to a standing ovation.
I look forward to seeing how The Boogeyman and Bisa’s future works as an artist develop and refine over the years to come. I wonder if she will continue to incorporate a large diverse community and address social concerns. I also wonder if she will continue to use a multidisciplinary approach to storytelling and if so, how it will mature. Lastly, I wonder if she will look back in about 8 years and say, “Gee, I was so sincere, raw and personally passionate back then.”