From the Director
At the first rehearsal for Choir Boy, director Kent Gash addressed the cast, creative team and MTC staff to talk about his perspective on the play and the immediate importance of this story.
No play happens in a vacuum; no play happens outside the world and the context in which we all live. And as we have seen in recent events in Baltimore, African American male lives are at risk. It’s hard not to feel like an endangered species sometimes.
A play like this is an opportunity. It is an opportunity for us to be in dialogue with the people that we live and work with in a given area, to say, “Here is a slice of African American life. Here is a glimpse into African American existence of young men who are at a critical juncture in their development and in their lives. They have nothing but potential, they have bright futures ahead of them, they’re in an educational institution, and they are striving to be the best and the brightest and to contribute to our country, to our culture, and to our world."
This is not a story that we see every day; this is not a story that we’re seeing the headlines of in the news, and yet this is the real story. The real story is that we are infinitely dimensional, complex — that there are institutions dedicated to our development that aren’t necessarily part of the mainstream, but that people need to know about. And the promise of a young man like Pharus, who is incredibly intelligent, charismatic, talented, warm, kind, and also happens to be African American, and also happens to be gay, and isn’t apologetic about any of it — well, that’s a conversation and a story that we need to hear, and that we need to know about, because it is not a story that is familiar. It’s not a story that we know. How he navigates his education and his time at Drew Prep – there are lessons in it for all of us.
This is our second chance at telling this story. Something that we talked about a little bit in the first read through at Studio Theatre in Washington D.C. [where Gash directed a production of Choir Boy in January 2015] is sadly something that remains of paramount importance. I think [playwright] Tarell Alvin McCraney has really created something extraordinary, and I’m looking forward to being able to tell this story again, this story about young men who are on a journey towards living some kind of authentic life, to living truthfully. What are the sacrifices that are sometimes asked of us if we choose to do that? How do we sustain that life, and continue to contribute to the world?
This is a story that’s really important to me. It has become more and more important to me in the passing years. I worked on the first reading of it at Manhattan Theatre Club. I’m really thrilled to have an opportunity to tell the story again, and to be in the Bay Area, an area that I love, an area that has a large black population, that has a large gay population—and those populations aren’t always talking to each other. Maybe this play is an opportunity to begin conversations.