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Broadway’s Thoughts of A Colored Man

Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

The Thoughts of a Colored Man play by Keenan Scott II examines the motivations, struggles, and passions of seven modern Black men who reside in a Brooklyn neighborhood. The play is the first Broadway production to include an all-Black cast both on and off the stage.

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Characters:

Characters are distinguished by the features they exhibit but are never given names. Love, Lust, Passion, Anger, Wisdom, Depression, and Happiness. Each man narrates his narrative while incorporating dialogue, slam poetry, song, and monologue. In doing so, the men demonstrate a depth of experience that encompasses the characteristics of every character. It demonstrates how every man’s experience is both distinct and common.

Thoughts of a Colored Man

What Does The Playwright Keenon Scott Want To Portray?

The premiere was a happy occasion for him since he had spent years wanting Black men to feel heard. After “growing up in this city, traveling these streets, seeing the marquees and billboards my whole life. Never believing I would be on one of them,” he adds. According to Scott, he wrote it so that Black men’s diversity and complexity would be highlighted like never before.

Working with the performers was one of Scott’s favorite parts of staging “Thoughts of a Colored Man.” Working with these wonderful men in the rehearsal space is great, continues Scott.

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For us, it served as a place of healing, counseling, church, and safety where we could come each day and feel free to be our authentic selves. He further adds, “I feel like I have a little DNA in every character. It’s also fantastic to bring a little of myself onto the theater.”

What Do The Performers Playing Love And Depression Said About The Show?

Actor Dyllon Burnside Playing Love:

Dyllón Burnside, who plays the role of Love claims that he was drawn to the part. But given that each role’s defining qualities are complex, he might have played any of them. The appeal of Keenan’s writing, according to Burnside, is that any one of these men might be mistaken for Love at some moment.

 Burnside compares the audience to an eighth character, saying, “We’re dependent on the audience to give us the response, to give us the ‘amens’ and the ‘uh-huhs’.”

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Everybody wants to be Black until it’s time to be Black, says the character Lust in one of the show’s lines that hits home for Burnside. According to the actor, it expresses the notion that Black cultural assets may value. He claims that while “everyone wants to be able to dance like that” and “sing like that,” “they don’t want to be that” when it comes to truly being Black.

Actor Forrest McClendon Playing Depression:

Putting a face to depression is a privilege, according to Forrest McClendon who played Depression. He explains the mental illness of his character as temporary and something that many Black males go through. He says, But we don’t have time to discuss that.

McClendon thinks that part of that is dismantling the conventions and preconceptions that surround Black actors.

To truly feel like me, McClendon explains, “I wanted to come onto the stage as an actor, not have to sing, not have to dance, and not have to dribble a basketball.” And that is exactly what I have to do at the beginning of this play.

So, Broadway’s play “Thoughts of a Colored Man”, in addition to laying the groundwork for appreciating its protagonists’ humanity, yearns for a society free from racism.

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