Blood at the Root, by Dominique Morisseau
Words and Images Courtesy of the ODU Theatre
Blood at the Root promises to be a truly newsworthy event, not just for its luminous author and phenomenal script, but also for Brittney Harris' stellar direction and staging. It is an important work, performed at a time when it is desperately needed in America.
When a Black student disrupts the status quo at her high school by occupying space typically reserved for white students, her community erupts in hate speech, violence, and chaos. Inspired by the real-life Jena Six case, which brought tensions to a boil in Louisiana in 2006, this play scrutinizes the intrinsic links between justice, bias, and identity. Moving, lyrical, and bold, Blood at the Root probes the complexities of race, individual freedoms, and what justice means in America when biases have been normalized.
In the words of Maya Phillips, for American Theatre (TCG): [Blood at the Root] aims to take the language of incrimination, of privilege, of prejudice, and transform it into poetry, music, and choreography that does not obscure the underlying sociopolitical messages, but rather highlights and recontextualizes them, steering them away from the straightforward black and white of the issue to instead probe the grey areas of politics and social culpability. Amid music, choral performances, and dance, each student explores his or her proximity to the events and determines their place within a tradition of hatred and segregation.