THE MESSIAH COMPLEX
by Nia O. Witherspoon
directed by Charlotte Brathwaite
choreographed by Ni'Ja Whitson
original music by Justin Hicks
dramaturgy by Cherríe Moraga
set/lighting by Tuce Yasak
premiered at BRIC Arts Media, Brooklyn, NY, May 2016
co-commissioned by Astraea Foundation
The Messiah Complex is a love story. Or many. It centers on Malika, a teenager on the trans-spectrum, who creates an alter-ego named Messiah, a popular basketball-ball star and aspiring rapper. When Messiah’s secret is revealed at 16, all comes crashing down, and s/he makes a fatal mistake. DJ Messiah, 10 years later, must face the literal ghost of a past mistake unearthed through a nightclub turned ritual. But this ghost wants more than reckoning. Set to the sound of hip-hop, the ring shout, and the wailing of ghosts, Messiah must find a way home.
Featuring a predominately Black, queer and trans cast and creative team, The Messiah Complex 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. This BRIClab Commission 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. Ultimately, The Messiah Complex tells a story of recognition, revolution and forgiveness.
Performed by Mikel Banks, Marcus Brandon, Joel Daniels, Kirsten Flores-Davis, Anyanwu Glanville, Tiffany Salmon, Linda La Montanez, Shelley Nicole, Nabowire Stokes, Kirya Traber, Tanisha Thompson and Ni’Ja Whitson