Directed by Azar Kazemi
First premiered in The U.S.
Production Dramaturg: Jacob C. Shuler
Genevieve VenJohnson (Amelia)
Reginald Robinson Jr. (Jason)
Lighting design by Daniel Friedman
Scenic design by Milo Bue
Photo credit: Emily Williams
Photo Courtesy: The Blind Owl
November 3 through December 10, 2016
A Co-Production with The Blind Owl Company at Halcyon Theatre
Knowing nothing about the play and playwright I went to see dirty butterfly. Mesmerized by the whole production, by brilliant acting and directing, challenged by the content and captivated by the poetic language, the play revived some disturbing memories from the past, as I had been listening to repeated violent acts behind the walls. At mid-nights. Imagining the detailed acts of violence….Thinking about the possible reactions…what should I do?
When a play has the power to revive memories, challenge your past, present and future, it has done its job.
dirty butterfly ceates three characters with their complex situations living in an inner city of London. In a note, Jacob C. Shuler explains: “three characters find themselves unwilling recipients of the effects of domestic abuse. While Jo bears the physical pain alone, Jason and Amelia accumulate a different set of symptoms as sound waves carry the violence through their thin apartment walls.”
One would experience the experience of others through imagination, through sounds, images and words. That’s how the two characters Amelia and Jason experienced and reacted internally different while they listened to Jo being abused by her partner. We never saw Jo’s partner on the stage. We even never heard his voice. All we heard was the overlapping dialogue of the three characters in broken and fragmented lines with frenzied, delirious tones, which brought to our mind some of Caryl Churchill’s plays. The poetic language with vague tendencies expressed different traumatic experiences of the characters which brought Theater of Cruelty to mind. In this form of theatre, shocking the audience by showing them the mere truth is an act of awareness. Simply because people think first with all of their senses and emotions.
As a black woman playwright debbie tucker green writes for those who feel…and feel tremendous affinity with the characters she creates for stage. She emphasizes that she does not write for critics. But writes black characters and “writing black characters is part of her landscape.”
dirty butterfly is not a play only about and for blacks. It’s for all races. But, it shouldn’t be performed before a passive audience. This is a play filled with conflicting surprises. It would sharpens our senses and acutely awakens us through actions and profound emotional experiences. Its intense images can never be forgotten.
With beautiful setting, inspiring lighting design, music and movements, this is a production everyone should dare to experience.
I would highly recommend this play and encourage those who are looking for insightful works of art to see it.