policACT (A Contemporary Theatre) presents UNTIL THE FLOOD by Dael Orlandersmith from June 8 to July 8, 2018. UNTIL THE FLOOD focuses on the social unrest following the fatal police shooting of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this list of books and films to enhance your experience of the show: ACT’s UNTIL THE FLOOD: Beyond the Theatre
The names and places, unfortunately, are tragically familiar: Ferguson, Trayvon, Baltimore, Philando, Tamir, Baton Rouge, and Charles Kinsey— the list goes on. How can we take it in? What does it mean? How can we comprehend?
Obie Award winning and Pulitzer Prize finalist playwright Dael Orlandersmith is bringing her work, UNTIL THE FLOOD, to ACT, with her quest of understanding how we got here and what it signifies. Focusing on Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of unarmed 18-year old Michael Brown, the one-act drama uses eight composite characters from the area to explore issues of race, social unrest, and political power. The characters all are working to find their standpoint with racial matters in our society, but from a personal level, ranging from teenagers to seniors, and from anger to reflection.
In an interview, Orlandersmith said, “I wanted to get a sense of what it felt like, where does race stand here beyond the Michael Brown shooting. So that’s the way it came about… I wrote this three years ago. It’s stronger now because of the assaults on Black men in Milwaukee and Chicago. Trayvon Martin was 2012. Michael was 2014. Only two years since then, the progression, man. So it’s stronger now than it ever was.” The full and insightful interview with Tina Landau of The Interval theatrical website discusses the author’s thinking and process, as well as her theater background and is available here.
Emotions raged following the death in Ferguson. Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, told CNN after hearing that a grand jury had decided not to indict the officer who killed her son, “This could be your child. This could be anybody’s child.” Meanwhile, McSpadden’s husband, her son’s stepfather, turned to the crowd, and screamed, “Burn this bitch down!”
As these events occur in our society, the need for perspective and understanding is necessary. As Orlandersmith says in her interview with The Interval, talking about what inspired commissioning the work, “what [the originating theater] wanted to do was to bring a theatre piece in to help create some sort of dialogue, how it [Ferguson] can be acknowledged.” Some of the ACT performances will include audience engagement discussions.
– Posted by Carl K.