Dear Friend,

I have always been                   peculiar.

As a child, blissfully unaware of the rules governing young girls, I spent hours enacting elaborate and spooky Barbie Doll versions of things I’d seen on T.V.

I took the Sunday school teacher’s reminder that Jesus is “always with us” to heart, making certain to hold the door open for the invisible-yet-present Most High, lest it slam in His holy face.

And I performed a solo show that ended with me singing a song I improvised on the spot before tossing a pile of homemade confetti into the air.

My younger brother laughed. My mother cheered me on.

O, I was and am                      different.

And being different and a theatre artist made it necessary for me to find my heroes, a tribe of others whose ideas about what we can do and how were, perhaps, as far afield as my own. As a student writer, I was enthralled by artists whose work had gone up at Soho Rep. María Irene Fornés. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Young Jean Lee. David Adjmi. I recognized that these playwrights were rigorously engaging the world around them, challenging convention and relentless in their sense of play and adventure.

And they, too, were                    weird.

So you can imagine my response to learning that The Soho Rep., beacon for playwrights I found extraordinary, wanted to produce my play!

It has been a dream to discover first hand how thoroughly this theatre nurtures the artists who work there. Sarah Benson and the rest of the team didn’t just say “yes” to my strange play, they invited me to be in conversations around virtually every aspect of bringing Is God Is to life. I am deeply impressed with their sincere commitment to shifting culture by giving the peculiar, the different, the left-of-center a tremendous platform. As a cultural institution, Soho Rep. teaches through example again and again that there is much to be gained when we trumpet and affirm those sensibilities and voices often relegated to the margins.

I have been fortunate enough to hear from people affected by Is God Is and always connect its ability to reach audiences to Soho Rep.’s ability to support bold work. I like to think of support a wheel that keeps turning, so long as people want it to.

Here’s a short play to illustrate as much. Ahem:

(A PLAYWRIGHT sits somewhere being weird. SOHO REP enters.)

PLAYWRIGHT: Boy, I sure could use a production of my weird play.

SOHO REP: We can do that!

(The play goes up. Everyone’s happy. A month later, SOHO REP sits somewhere. YOU enter.)

SOHO REP: Boy, we sure could use some support producing another play.

YOU: I can make that happen!

(YOU make a generous donation. Everyone’s happy.

Next season. ANOTHER PLAYWRIGHT sits somewhere, being weird. SOHO REP enters.)

PLAYWRIGHT: Boy, I sure could use a production of my weird play.

SOHO REP: We can do that!

(The play goes up. Everyone’s happy. A month later, SOHO REP sits somewhere…you get the picture.

Hopefully, there is no END.)

I have no doubt that a myriad of burgeoning weirdos are watching and waiting for their opportunity to play in the theatrical sandbox, to contribute to the landscape through their stories. My great hope is that you will give what you can to this remarkable organization so that it can continue to beacon both makers and enjoyers of the curious the bold the uncouth

                                                    the remarkable

                                                                                       the unconventional

                                                                                                                       the necessary

                                                                                                                       the necessary

                                                                                                                       the necessary

Aleshea Harris

playwright, Is God Is

 

(Click HERE to make a gift to support Soho Rep.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *