up in a Black, leftist family in the ‘60s life could be both complex
and simple - on the one hand there’s parents explaining the effects of
economic imperialism on
post-colonial Africa to a five year old,
but on the other hand we all looked real cool in berets. Our
parents took us to rallies that became riots, peace marches that became
battles, but through it all we were sure of one thing - that
the only way for the American Dream to come true was through
revolution, and Huey P. Newton was the god of the Revolution. Handsome,
articulate Huey, Messiah of the Left,
was going defeat the imperialists with one hand and create the
socialist utopia with the other.
And then, one day someone told me I looked like him- like Huey. I
can’t say what it meant to me. Okay, imagine it’s right after the
American Revolution - only we’re all
black and we lost - and someone says “Anyone ever tell you -
you look like George Washington?” Wouldn’t that feel great? And each
person who told me I looked like Huey told me a story about him, how he
changed their life, about his bravery, his inspiration his... cruelty?
Wait a minute... rape? Uh, yeah. Good and bad stories, worship and
warts, I heard all of it. And I look like this guy?
So what do you do when you find out that your hero, the icon of the
Left, is just a human, with all the faults and more, like any other
person? Does it invalidate the Movement? Does it mean that everything
your parents taught you was wrong? Was the country that chased you
through the streets and killed all of your heroes right all along? Or
can you listen to the message, and let the messenger be human?
So this show is a true comic drama of the search for an answer. A one
person, multi-character history of
my life, the Sixties, and the stories all these people were
compelled to tell me.
Because I look like Huey.
The original idea for this show came after yet another person told me I
looked like Huey Newton, while I was coincidentally playing Huey at the
Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in San Francisco. This play is the result of
four years of research into the history of the Black Panther Party,
interviews with people that told me I look like Huey.
Did Anyone Ever Tell You...? was
developed at the Z Space Studio with the Afro Solo Theatre, in San
Francisco, directed by Velina Brown. It opened at the New York
International Fringe Theatre Festival August, 1999, before moving to the
Vancouver Festival of Fringe Theatre. It’s world theatrical premiere
was at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco, March, 2000.
Ever Tell You...? was awarded the San Francisco Bay Guardian
Upstage/Downstage Award for Best Solo Flight 2000, and received a best
Solo Performance nomination from the Bay Area Critics Circle.
booking information contact Michael Sullivan at (415) 928-0592, or
e-mail at email@example.com