Just announced – Psalmayene 24 will join Mosaic Theater’s Senior Artistic Staff where, over the next three years, the DC playwright and director will create new works, participate in Mosaic’s community outreach programs and audience interactions and initiate a new Directors/Playwrights Cohort. This is being made possible by an award from The National Playwright Residency Program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in collaboration with HowlRound Theatre Commons. The program provides salary and benefits for three years. The residency begins July 1, 2020.
Psalmayene 24, responding to the announcement: “In many respects, I am a native son of the community that Mosaic Theater serves. Having grown up in Brooklyn, New York, and now having lived in the Washington, DC area for more than half of my life—over 25 years—I proudly call DC my home. I came of age, as a man and an artist, in DC. I wrote my first play in DC. I met my wife in DC. So, as my adopted hometown, I feel a strong connection to many of the theaters in the DC area—especially Mosaic. True to its name, Mosaic is a theater with a wonderfully diverse audience. As someone who grew up in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn during a time when it was a beacon of multiculturalism, I feel most at home in communities where diversity reigns supreme. (And when I say diversity, I mean diversity of all types: race, class, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) As an artist who sees myself as an integral member of the community that Mosaic serves, it is my belief that I am well qualified to represent authentic creative impulses that reflect the spirit of this community.
“My intention is to impact this community through the National Playwright Residency Program by creating plays that act as a reflective prism meant to reveal and illuminate the soul of the community. There is a validation that occurs when people see a play that speaks to their particular experience. Plays have the ability to feed parts of the human spirit that we didn’t know were malnourished. When plays voice the humanity of a specific community, these plays have the potential to sing in harmony with universal yearnings that connect us all.”
Mosaic Theater describes the proposed projects on the drawing boards : “Mosaic is excited to help develop a new project already in the drafting stage, written and to be performed by the author himself, entitled Dear Mapel, based on the Psalmayene 24’s letters (actual and imagined) to the deceased father he hardly knew, sharing a coming-of-age story within a coming-to-terms hole in his heart. Additional projects include a hip-hop theatrical portrait of DC’s controversial “Mayor For Life,” Marion Barry. Just as provocative and dynamic is The Street Corridor Initiative, a showcasing of proud DC voices culled from interviews of residents along H Street where Mosaic performs, focusing on two public transport vessels bringing residents up and down the corridor; the infamous X-2 bus and the newer, suspiciously regarded play-toy of gentrification, the DC Streetcar.
“Another proposed work, Freedom Strike, tells the story of a Black performance artist who cuts off the head of Abraham Lincoln from the Emancipation Statue—a controversial DC statue of a freed Black man and Abraham Lincoln. The play will investigate the cost of freedom on the Black body. Additionally, Psalmayene 24 will return to the work that initiated his literary relationship with Mosaic, Les Deux Noirs: Notes on Notes of a Native Son, a reimagining of the meeting between author Richard Wright and essayist James Baldwin, originally commissioned as a response piece to Nambi Kelley’s adaptation of Native Son, which Psalm directed as part of Mosaic’s “Native Son Rep.” Entertaining and vital, a streamlined text and staging of Les Deux Noirs will be fashioned to make the production more wieldy for touring through our “Mosaic on the Move” initiative, and for future productions to come.”
Article by Lorraine Treanor for DCTheatreScene.com.