The Illyrian Players In Association with Watts Village Theatre Company present...
THE RED LETTER PROJECT: In the Blood and Fucking A by Susan Lori Parks An ongoing theatrical experiment created to inspire dialogue and empathy around misogyny, racism, reproductive rights, and mass incarceration. A unique experience where you can sign up to engage your own community in this blend of storytelling, ceremony and discussion.
These two plays will be performed... ...in rep ...on alternating Mondays ...in a new performance space every week
Instead of a typical ticketed performance, this experience is free and for a privately selected audience. One host will invite their own community to this immersive night of storytelling and discussion. Anyone can submit to host a ceremony! Money is not an obstacle for anyone wanting to experience The Red Letter Project. Keep reading for more information.
IN THE BLOOD and FUCKING A are two sister plays written by American playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, published in a collection called "The Red Letter Plays". Both plays are loosely inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, exploring similar themes through a modern feminist lens.
THE PERFORMANCES: Where and when can I buy tickets? You can't. There are only two ways to experience the ceremony. You can be invited by a host, or you can become a host and bring one of these stories to your own community.
Why are we doing The Red Letter Project now? Our intent with The Red Letter Project is to use theatre to create a safe space for radical empathy, where audience and performers can engage together around urgently relevant issues in our country – including misogyny, misogynoir, reproductive rights, mass incarceration, and the failure of systems that purportedly exist to serve and protect the vulnerable. We hope to share the growth and healing that theatre can catalyze with those who are often excluded from the not-always-accessible world of theatre.
FEATURING THE TALENTS OF: Alana Dietze, Bruce A. Lemon Jr., Charissa J. Adams, Elitia Daniels, Katie Canavan, Kevin Tomlinson, Lorinda Hawkins Smith, Mercedes Manning, Michael Matts, Tamika Simpkins, Willie Waren Jr., Zach Brown DIRECTED BY: Carly D. Weckstein with Mary Ellen Moreno (AD for In the Blood) MANIFESTED BY: Arie Levine, Thea Rodgers, Tad Shafer WITH HELP FROM: A'raelle Flynn-Bolden, Will Herder, Learon Inbar, Alex Marshall-Brown
Tell Me More About These Plays:
In the Blood and Fucking A are two sister plays written by Suzan-Lori Parks, published in a collection called The Red Letter Plays. We are performing them in rep, on alternating Mondays. Make sure to sign up for the week of the play you’d like to host if you have a preference. Both plays are loosely inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, exploring female sexuality in a patriarchal world steeped in misogyny and misogynoir, poverty, mass incarceration, abortion and more. Each play centers on a different incarnation of an illiterate woman named Hester who is being failed by the systems that claim to serve her. They are both brilliant scripts full of epic tragedy, dark comedy, and live music.
Content Warning!! Both plays contain explicit language, violence, sexuality, sexual violence, violence against women and violence against black bodies – please make sure your guests are aware of this content. If you have specific concerns feel free to ask us about further details. We do not recommend inviting guests under 16 years of age (mature teenagers are welcome).
Summary: In the Blood - 2 hours including ceremony and discussion In The Blood is the story of homeless mother, Hester, and her five fatherless children. Living in poverty with a reputation as a “slut”, she seeks help in bettering her children’s lives, only to find herself used (emotionally and sexually) by those who claim they are there to help her - the institutions of medicine, welfare, religion, marriage, and capitalism. Includes 1 song. Finalist for the Pulitzers Price in Drama 2000. featuring: Alana Dietze Elitia Daniels Kevin Tomlinson Michael Matts Tamika Simpkins Zach Brown Summary: Fucking A – 2 hours including ceremony and discussion Fucking A is a dystopian story about a working mother, Hester, who has become her small town’s abortionist in order to pay for her incarcerated son’s release. He was sent to prison as a child, and his release fees continually increase over the lifetime he has spent in prison. Unbeknownst to her, her son, now dubbed ‘Monster’, has escaped from prison and is being tracked by hunters bent on a cruel collection of the bounty on his head. Includes 10 songs. Includes made-up language of TALK with visual translation (women speak in TALK when referring to their sexuality, reproduction, menstruation, abortion, etc.) featuring: Alana Dietze Bruce A. Lemon Jr. Celia Mandela Charissa J. Adams Katie Canavan Kevin Tomlinson Lorinda Hawkins Smith Mercedes Manning Michael Matts Willie Warren Jr. Zach Brown
What Will This Event Look Like?
Instead of a typical ticketed performance, these ceremonies are free and for a privately selected audience in a new space (maybe yours!) alternating every Monday night. One host (you?) will invite their own community to this immersive evening of storytelling and discussion. Our ensemble will curate a safe space of radical empathy in which your community can experience these stories.
I think I might want to host! What would that mean?
Great! Hosts will be inviting a select group of people who you think would enjoy, benefit from, or otherwise positively engage with these ceremonies or storytelling and discussion. We do not recommend inviting guests under 16 year of age, due to mature content (mature teenagers only).
Hosts do not need to provide a space for the event. We can help you find a local space to host this event for your community. but if you have a space available, that is a plus.
Our first four performances are open to friends and family of the cast, as well as interested hosts. If you want to get a taste for the experience before hosting, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP for one of the following dates:
Monday, August 28th – In the Blood Monday, September 4th – Fucking A Monday, September 11th – Fucking A Monday, September 18th – In Blood (Inquire for Locations) We will be off for a couple weeks in late September, and then start scheduling hosted performances:
Monday, October 10th - In the Blood Monday, October 16th - Fucking A Monday, October 23rd - In the Blood Monday, October 30th - Fucking A Monday, November 6th -In the Blood Monday, November 13th - Fucking A Monday, November 20th - In the Blood
Who Is The Playwright? Named among Time magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next Wave,” Suzan-Lori Parks is one of the most acclaimed and brilliant playwrights in American drama today. She is the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama (Topdog/Underdog 2001), and is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Award and the prestigious Gish Prize for Excellence in the Arts. At Mount Holyoke College she was mentored by James Baldwin, who steered her toward writing plays specifically because of the animated nature of her writing. Her writing is powerfully relevant, incendiary art. “Words are spells in our mouths.” -SLP
Who Are The Illyrian Players? We are a sex-positive, intersectional, feminist theatre ensemble committed to nurturing a community for artists to embrace their roles as healers and activists through ritual storytelling. We seek to reclaim the power of theatre as a subversive art form with which to change the world. We aim to create work that reconnects sexuality with spirituality, and questions their disconnect in our modern world. We gravitate toward stories that explore sexuality and gender, whether reclaiming these themes through a feminist lens in classic plays or digging into them through modern masterpieces.