Penn State Theatre’s “Blood at the Root” takes cultural conversation international


“Policemen come up and tell us to get out
of there like we was criminals or something.” “I saw it, it was like was like ten of y’all,
it looked something out of civil rights or something.” “Felt like it too.” Blood at the Root makes a difference by starting
conversation. “Ask me, they ain’t got to do all that, just
let folk be what they want to be.” A conversation about race, about gender, about
class, challenging people to think differently. “I’m going to get me some shade.” “What for? Don’t go over there! Ain’t nothing
but a bunch of snobs and cliques sitting under that tree.” “And today, me too.” “Cool, thank you.” The graduate acting program commissions a
play for the third year class and Steve Broadnax the head of our program met Dominique Morisseau,
our playwright in New York, and asked her if she would be interested in being the commissioned
playwright for our class. “So I just want you to know –” So she came in and started to work with us
in a series of workshops that we didn’t know where they were going to go or what the point
of any of it was but what she was really doing was learning who we were as people. “You said that — ” “Who cares what I said?” I remember in workshops talking about my mom
and my little brother and how important they really are to me and that’s the biggest thing
I take from myself into Deandre is that need to do better for his family. “No matter you’re right. No matter you’re
true. Black face male body ain’t gonna listen to you.” You know, I came into this program and really
not an activist, really not — I wanted to learn more about the craft but I guess the
purpose of theater is to bring the issues to the forefront. “Punk! Soft!” We’ve just recently received an award at the
Kennedy Center in Washington DC for the hip-hop theater creative award and I mean to just
be honored and acknowledged by that organization for quality of work, especially coming out
of Penn State, coming out of our MFA graduate program was an honor. “We all American. But why everybody else get
— ” So I’m very proud of the group that is leading
Penn State to hopefully make a mark. Something that went just from a — let’s try
some workshops — to now winning awards at the Kennedy Center, you know, traveling the
world with a show that I can fully stand behind and that I feel fulfilled as an artist doing.
And finding it at 21 is unreal and also scary ’cause I don’t know when I’m going to have
an opportunity like this again, you know, it’s not every day that you come across a
project that you believe in wholeheartedly and will take you across the world. “Black kids protesting, white kids pranking,
who — ” This is living proof of what happens if you
really truly believe in yourself and your dreams and I know that’s cliche but I’m — like
I said, I’m a country boy, I’m — I come from nothing, you know, I’m living my dream.

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