“I write plays about complicated, complex women of color. These women are neither saints or villains; they’re eternally both.”
That’s how Rachel Lynett’s artist statement begins. From Playbill comes news that one of Lynett’s plays, “Apologies to Lorraine Hansberry (You Too August Wilson)” is the winner of the 2021 Yale Drama Prize, selected this year by Pulitzer winner Paula Vogel.
From Playbill’s excerpt of the play:
Alright. Damn. Please continue to take your time.
White folx call what I’m about to do “exposition.” But the Black folx in the audience know I’m about to preach. The world you’re about to see ain’t yours. It’s not a parallel universe, it’s not alternate reality. It’s something else. It lives in the imagination of every person of color in this room.
When I get bored, I like to remove one historical event and say to myself “would that make the playing field fair?” What if there had been a revolt when Trump got elected? Or, what if there had been no slavery? Like at all. Can you even imagine the world without it? Our whole socio-eco-system is built on the backs of people who look like me. And I know, I know, I know. The playwright’s hand is showing. Get over it. That’s kind of the point.
So, re-setting the clock. Slavery never existed. And since I know some of y’all are trifflin, let me be clear. The African diaspora due to the slavery of West Africans never happened. The Roman still enslaved the Greeks and the idea of slavery still exists but Black people, my people, were not slaves. We weren’t forced onto ships, our names and family histories weren’t taken from us. That has been erased.
During the Industrial Revolution, there was a great migration of Africans across the world but especially to Great Britain and the colonies. Though no one came through trying to steal resources from continental Africa, no one came through with resources either.
The African people became incredibly advanced but the only way to mass produce the technology was to take it over seas themselves. Black folk all over the world came up with brilliant inventions and became scientists, doctors, inventors.
But thanks to general xenophobia, many of their inventions, the credit to who invented what, was stolen from them. And when they tried to speak out against it, suddenly people started going missing. And then more and more people went missing. Names vanished from history.
Y’all should know history is written by white folks anyway.
Lynett, a recipient of the Arkansas Arts Council’s 2018 Individual Artist Fellowships and the Walton Family Foundation’s 2019 Artists360 grants, will receive Yale University’s David Charles Horn Prize of $10,000, as well as publication of her play by Yale University Press and a staged reading.