THE MESSIAH COMPLEX
Written & Directed by Nia O. Witherspoon
Messiah is a play about the legacy of the Panthers in the age of crack, where a scratch at a DJ booth incites a replay of the past, an action that interrogates generations of violence on black, queer bodies. The production features a ten-member cast and creative team comprised of predominantly queer, trans, and people of color.
In the play, a teenager on the trans-spectrum, creates an alter-ego named Messiah, a popular basketball-ball star and aspiring rapper. Set to the sound of hip-hop, the ring shout, and the wailing of ghosts, Messiah embarks on a journey to find a way home.
Messiah ponders how black nationalism, despite its legacies of sexism and homophobia can live on in contemporary black queer and female bodies. The characters in Messiah fight against the injustice of being forgotten like many queer and trans people of color across history. In her play, Witherspoon places women, queer, and trans folks back into the center of the black liberation struggle-where they belong.
Using a traverse stage, Messiah creates an immersive experience that brings ritual into the theater, shifting from the secular to the sacred through rites already present in black life-the frenzy of a nightclub, the libations poured on street corners, and the sonic landscapes of hip-hop. With this access to "the sacred," audiences can engage with the past, present, and future to shift reality towards creativity, justice, and freedom.
Playing at La Mama
May 23 - June 02, 2019
Downstairs | 66 East 4th Street
Thursday to Saturday at 8PM; Sunday at 5PM