AUTHOR | POET | PLAYWRIGHT | ACTIVIST | EDUCATOR
Winner of the 2015 Cleveland Arts Prize Emerging Artist Award for Literature
BLACKEYED: PLAYS AND MONOLOGUES
Review: "Blackeyed: Plays and Monologues by Dr. Mary E. Weems"
Writer: Vince Robinson
In the realm of African spirituality lies a concept of the energy described as the "Creator" by some and by others as “God” – embodying all that exists. Science describes things in other terms, namely, organic and inorganic. Within science, inorganic connotes an object or substance not considered to be a living thing.
Blackeyed, a collection of plays and monologues, deftly accomplishes the idea of giving life to things deemed inanimate while simultaneously exemplifying academic concepts such as auto/ethnography, ethnotheatre, poetic inquiry and others against a backdrop of the Black experience. One need not have an understanding of dense pedagogy to be affected by the vastly tragic narratives contained in this important work. Simply reading this material will lead the reader through the maze of life experienced, observed, filtered and interpreted by Dr. Mary E. Weems.
Blackeyed thusly is an appropriate title for this work. Through her lense we are able to clearly envision the divinity of abandoned artifacts discarded in the wake of a foreclosed dwelling. We get a clear picture of the full impact of the tilt of a hat that carries the spirit not only of its wearer, but its wearer’s predecessor. We imagine the depth of pain caused by loss, betrayal, incest, mental illness and the myriad of issues wreaking havoc on the souls of Black folk. Even in the midst of anguish, we momentarily dally in a brief interlude of loving thoughts.
Weems’ resonant poetic voice shines through the characters in bursts of dialect and nuance. Human conflict, racial undertones and the struggle for civil and human rights reverberate. If one were to attempt to connect with a glimpse of the lives of African Americans in this country absent from classroom history books and the limited cinematic mainstream depictions, Blackeyed is perfect starting point. In all of its admitted “messiness,” it provides context, perspective, form and substance.
Through it all, the spirit of cultural authenticity is woven through the fabric of these narratives, perhaps unbeknownst to its author, connecting the DNA of the ancestors who planted the seeds of exposition in a griot long before her awareness of their existence. In the Now, they are undoubtedly marveling at the flower that blooms much to the delight of those exposed to its hauntingly tragic beauty.