Reflections: Playwright Paul William Taylor Sr.’s “He Was A Slave”
Paul Wm. Taylor Jr.’s plays are always a communal and educational event. Generations come to see his plays and often discuss thought provoking scenes all during intermission. It’s what we have come to appreciate and expect from this insightful writer’s introspective dramaturgy.
This February, playwright Paul Wm. Taylor Jr produced another production at the Community Actors Theater(CAT) in San Diego California. His one act drama “He Was A Slave” explores ways in which ancestral memory interweaves throughout African American’s real lived-experiences as synchronic life events intersect and mingle on a diachronic cultural time continuum.
Paul Wm. Taylor Sr. has written several plays with successful production runs–see my review of his play “Rants” that examines African American inter-generational relationships, https://sonictapestry.wordpress.com/2016/06/23/theater-review-rants-at-san-diegos-cat-theater/
Although Taylor tours some of his plays on the K-12 public school circuit, He enjoys being in community at Jennie Hamilton’s Southeast San Diego theater. His play “He Was A Slave” is one of his education plays.
Playwright Paul Wm. Taylor Jr.
Without giving away too much of the plot, the play opens with Scottie Nic center stage (yes, the same Scottie Nic stunt double for Terry Crews in the “Longest Yard”). Nic’s opening monologue is a short lecture about Black history month. His narrative is interrupted by a thick rising mist from which emerges George, the slave character played by Paul Wm. Taylor Jr. Using mist as a motif for ancestral phatasmogoric absence and presence, time is collapsed and expanded. Young actress Heleena Mosley and San Diego actress Shea Coleman create a phantom Greek chorus, commenting on pathos filled moments from George’s life with song.
Chronology intersects and merges at various points throughout the play, informing the audience about African American lives throughout history. Taylor juxtaposes contemporary lived experiences as a way for his audiences to consider a longitudinal perspective on Black lives and how they matter in America in a world in which much experience is as Amiri Baraka said, “The Changing Same.”
Shea Coleman, Paul Wm. Taylor Jr., Scottie Nic, Heleena Mosley
Shea Coleman also enjoys working in community at San Diego’s Community Actor’s Theater. Although her list of acting credits include many venues, she notes that being back on CAT’s local stage helps her stay balanced.
San Diego actress Shea Coleman
A panel discussion followed “He Was A Slave.” Paul Wm. Taylor Jr, Gloria Verdon, Heleena Mosley and I examined ways in which America’s systemic racism and slavery impact today’s society. Our discussion embraced lively audience commentary/dialogue and lasted for over an hour.
If you have a chance, catch one of Paul Wm. Taylor Jr.s’ plays. Sit back, watch, listen closely, and enjoy.