Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Flowers for the Trashman by Marvin X

Prescott Joseph Center For Community Enhancement


A tribute to Black History Month

A preview of the 2009 season at The Sister Thea Bowman Memorial Theater


A one act play


Marvin X

Directed by WordSlanger


An excerpt from


Love by Death

Written and Directed by

Ayodele “WordSlanger” Nzinga

February 22, 2009- Only

2Pm Matinee: $10:00 at the door

5Pm Show: $10:00 at the door

$5.00 in Advance

Reservations encouraged.

Author discussion follows each production.

920 Peralta St. Oakland CA

510-457-8999/ 510-208-1912 tickets-information -reservations.
A We Inhale Production

Flowers for the Trashman, A One-Act Play
Author: Marvin X

Director's Notes

Author's first produced (Drama Department, San Francisco State University, 1965) and published play. Included in the Black Fire anthology, 1968. An example of Black Arts Movement work that seeks to render issues of immediate importance to the Black Community. It is a performative work that has a sharp relevance to the relationships that shape and plague manhood in North American African communities today. As in all good art the theme, while applied specifically, has universal implications that manage to break even the imposed strictures of gender within the piece to speak elegantly about separation within intimates spaces.

Director: Ayodele " WordSlanger" Nzinga, MFA
Artistic Director of the Sister Thea Bowman Theater, The Lower Bottom Playaz, Associate Director Recovery Theater and student of Marvin X.

Marvin X wrote Flower's for the Trashman in the turbulent 1960's. It is his first produced and published play. When asked permission to stage the piece he asked, "Why?" Why is a piece of work over 40 years old relevant at this time.

The answer lies in part in the enigmatic timelessness of the piece. Something becomes a classic because of its ability to endure by translating itself across time. This is a trait inherent in fine art. It is so because the best art seats itself in the basic foundation of the human story. Significant art seeks to know something essential to human nature, it worries itself and us with the making of the human condition. This art can be cathartic, it can disturb, remind or simply call into view from the shadows of unconsciousness; elephants on universal tables.

Created in the historical context of the Black Arts Movement, (BAM), Flowers for the Trashman, is an example of work consciously intended to be preformative, created for and about subjects/issues paramount to the formation/sustainin g of independent black communities concerned with self articulation/ reflection that intends to provoke action. I submit Marvin X's work also passes the litmus for fine art. In it's reflection of intimate estrangement it probes familial relations on the very personal and universal /archetypal level. The work is aligned with an issue of humanness that will be dated only by a shift in the human condition itself. Thus the work satisfies the specific requirements of its lens: black male relationships, while working beyond this specificity/ boundary as well.

The reflection of Blacks in America mirrors the societal dilemmas of American society writ large. While essentially an introspection of father/son communication, Flowers for the Trashman is also a vehicle to examine intimacy, isolation in company, and boundaries on a much larger level. The very specific gender of the piece is also fluid; it is the situation itself that is compelling and larger than the beautifully simple text.

The main character asks, "How can we be so far apart...? So far apart, yet so close---so close together?" This is the interrogation the work attempts. It is voiced in the final quarter of the piece and sums its query emphatically. This question should be of interest to us as a nation as we cry for change. If we knew the answer perhaps the illusive unity we seek could manifest. If we asked this in our houses, our churches, our academic spaces, halls of government, in our communities, out on the turfs of the world where we all breathe the same air; what could we learn about appreciation of difference, each other and the path to unity?

We are in the information age. We hyper communicate in multi modes yet in the midst of this explosion of ways in which to communicate; the art of intimate human exchange goes unattended. We get our news from the corporate media and other secondary sources, we miss the primacy of getting our news from each other. We travel together though the event of our lives with earphones, cell phones, and laptops. We socially network with people we will never meet and who may not be the people they claim to be. Yet our co-workers, neighbors, partners, children, parents go unknown in large and significant ways. The way we are is easy to see, the how we got there, often dies with us. The average child can tell you more about his favorite artist than he can his own family. The everyday adult knows how to talk at children but spends little time talking to them as equal humans with viable information about themselves and their environment to offer. We are alone, traveling together on a blue ball spinning in space, more connected than ever before, and yet we are alone, isolated in our individual stories of self, without an appreciation of how the individual stories inform each other we suffer in isolation.

There is space in Marvin's transparent working of the very personal for us to consciously consider the lack of intimate communication on a variety of levels. All these levels serve the function in BAM directives and serve as a space for introspection on unity and its possibility from the personal to the universal.

I am choosing to direct the piece out of my own passion for communication, my appreciation for the artistry of my mentor and appreciation of the classics. An active love of the classic demands the work be kept alive and allowed to do its work. By mounting classic art we enable its longevity by gifting it to new generations.

"If I don't know the folks on the page; I won’t direct the work."

Ayodele Nzinga , MA , MFA

Black Arts West Tonight

San Francisco's Recovery Theatre opened last night in the Tenderloin district with plays by Geoffrey Grier, The Spot, Ayodele Nzingha, Death by Love and Marvin X's BAM classic Flowers for the Trashman. Nzingha and Grier are students and co-workers of Marvin X, Nzingha since 1981 when she directed the Laney College production of his play In The Name of Love, a poetic drama that Eldridge Cleaver said returned theatre to the Shakespeare tradition. Grier has been associated with Dr. M since 1998 when he performed the role of Huey Newton in One Day in the Life, X's docudrama of his Crack addiction and recovery. Grier now heads San Francisco's Recovery Theatre, an offshoot of X's Recovery Theatre. He is the producer of Night at the Black hawk as the three play production is called, in honor of the famous jazz club which was a few doors down the street from the theatre at 134 Golden Gate between Leavenworth and Jones.

Grier and Nzingha present selections from their full length dramas while X's Flowers is a one-act first produced by the Drama department at San Francisco State University, 1965. Flowers, along with Ed Bullins' How Do You Do and It Has No Choice became repertory works when Bullins and X founded Black Arts West in the Fillmore district, 1966, the west coast counter-part of Baraka's Harlem Black Arts Repertory Theatre.

Nzingha's Death by Love is a touching drama about how HIV/AIDS affects the family. Grier's the Spot is a ritual drama of life on the corner and the impact of prison on the family. Flowers grapples with the father and son relationship. The plays are a painful celebration of Black culture. There is irony in Flowers since the actors are fatherless young men. They are no doubt touched by the play. Since they are brothers in real life, there is a natural unity between them, along with skilled acting learned from their mother, director Ayodele Nzingha. They do not rush their lines and we feel the silences. Ayo's daughter Ayo is the daughter in Death by Love, making this production a family affair.

In the Spot, Stefon Williams is outstanding as father and former street corner hood. His voice reminds one of actors Sonny Jim and James Earl Jones. Stefon opens the Spot with the Sam Cooke classic A Change is Gonna Come.

Bay Area folks should not miss this Night At The Black Hawk which runs tonight and Saturday, 8 p.m. Call 519-355-6339 for information.

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