Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Hard Evidence of Existence

Directed and conceived by Cedric Brown, The Hard Evidence of Existence: A Black Gay Sex (& Love) Show was a poignantly beautiful exploration of black gay love, and what it means to be a black man who loves black men.

One character in the first vignette written by Stewart Shaw, called his lovemaking revolutionary, hair electrified, locs standing at attention from the shear passion of it all -- his love for his man.

What an image, right? There were others: Men kissing men, men talking about kissing men. It was something I hadn't seen much of, and I enjoyed seeing black men showing affection to other black men because in main stream media, black men are not shown in this light -- loving, not brutalizing, each other.

Perhaps more images like this need to get out? It might start a trend.

The series of short stories or scenes excerpted from work by Zakee McGill, Ramekon O'Arwisters, and Stewart Shaw, moved between a son's recollection of his father's acceptance of his identity at a time when hostility would have not only been understood, it would have been expected. I was reminded of a book I picked up the other day: Becoming Dad by Leonard Pitts Jr.

Pitts writes: "My father had wanted his firstborn child, his son and namesake, to be brawney, strong, and athletic. I was skinny, shy and smart. ...I was a nerd. (I) wasn't the kid my father wanted, (the son) a farmer's son with seven years of education could easily relate to."

It was hell for little Leonard, until four years later, Keith came along and his father devoted his attentions to him. What's ironic is, Keith ended up being gay.

The Hard Evidence of Existence had more to do with just navigating the terrain of black on black love, never mind the external intrusions which one couple
encounter in Cuba.

Hard Evidence reminded me of Harlequin and Regency romance stories only recast with black men in starring roles. There was no violence but infidelity, good sex and even no sex. There was humor, yet consistent in all five tales was the great writing, and sensitive depiction of the roles by a talented cast: Marlon Bailey, Robert Hampton, and DaMon Vann.

I spoke to Cedric beforehand about the show closing night of the three day run at Thick House, and he said he was tired of the brawny objectified images of black men and their dicks (he didn't say this, but in the show someone else does.)

In fact, the opening montage shows author Elan Harris' Invisible Life, his first runaway best seller, the story of a brother uncomfortable with his sexuality...all of Harris' books ones where the protagonist is not happy with his life without a man, and most often with a man either.

Cedric wanted to show the average brother who is not ashamed of who he is, nor is his a caricature of the media hype: brothers on the DL, the black downlow phenomena given scathing critique, unlike that of the urban cowboys in Brokeback Mountain where the two men were seen as tragic heroes.

Essex Hemphill and Marlon Riggs two creative men who were proud of their sexuality, appear in clips in the play, their words and images sidebars in the multimedia projections which serve as interludes between frames, scenes, moments or periods between ellipses.

The work opens with a quote from Hemphill about love and sex, and closes with the same, the actors in shorts dancing in muted light...bodies barely audible, the gesture a stroke of awareness on cerebral canvases.


At 12:40 AM, Blogger eshuneutics said...

What a sensitive, fair-minded, and thoughtful post--sometimes, as in this case, balance can be so passionate. I wanted to find out about this play and your information was just right. Thanks.

At 6:21 AM, Blogger Id it is said...

I am glad eshuneutics put up this link. A review so thought provoking yet so simply put. Thanks to your post I read up on the play and I am glad i did.

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Sir-real said...

i was happy to read your review...even more, i was thrilled to know that artistic work like this is sprouting...


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