Many great works of theatre are not completely autonomous, and in fact, are responses to other works. In Suzan-Lori Parks “Fucking A”, a dystopian molding of The Scarlet Letter is presented to produce a complex and intriguing work of new drama. Bwog’s Gabby Beans reports from Lerner 5.
As the audience settled into their seats in the Lerner Black Box Theater on the opening night of the Black Theatre Ensemble’s production of Suzan-Lori Parks’s “Fucking A”, electric curiosity surged through the atmosphere. Would the piece be a comedy? Would it be a tragedy? Would it be a musical? As the lights dimmed, the audience couldn’t help but wonder what exactly “Fucking A” would be. However, after having watched the play, there is still no cut and dry label one can apply to this innovative, but ultimately uneven production.
This stylistic ambiguity however, is not entirely due to the choices made by the director (Nailah Robinson, CC ’12), cast, and crew. “Fucking A” is set in a dystopian city-state where characters alternate between contemporary English and TALK, a jarring colloquial dialect comprised of a mixture of several languages. The play includes songs, but the music is employed in a less “musical theatre” sense and in a more Brechtian one, underscoring emotional tensions and causing the audience to reevaluate the scenes they’ve just witnessed. The play chronicles its protagonist, Hester Smith (Jasmine Sudarkasa, CC ‘13), in her attempts to free her son from jail via payments to the governmental “Freedom Fund”, and the ensuing hardships that befall her as she is swept into a maelstrom of political and personal tragedy.