Boston Latin School tackles bold, important theater with ‘Da Kink In My Hair’
This term, the Boston Latin School theater department tackled “Da Kink in My Hair,” a 2001 play by Trey Anthony about black womanhood. Student directors Samantha Lee and Azhani Duncan-Reese say the show was part of an ongoing effort to perform plays that tackle social justice issues. The play will be performed at the Massachusetts Thespian Festival at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School on Feb. 9.
“Da Kink in My Hair” tells the story of a clairvoyant hair salon owner who uses her empathetic powers to connect with her clients and the challenges each individual is facing. “I think what we really wanted people to understand was how this one group of people that you might group together, women of color, is not a monolith. It’s a group of people with very individual stories,” says Lee. Both directors agree that the social justice-themed plays are receiving a better reception in the current political climate than in the past.
The casting of the show presented a significant challenge. “We have such a lack of diversity at this school. It’s getting better, but at this current point in time, it’s so hard to find people of color,” says Duncan-Reese. “Trying to put together a cast of all black females seemed impossible, but we did it.” Visual and performing arts teacher Joseph Gels, who assisted the students with the production, says many of the students of color had other time constraints such as jobs and other extracurricular activities that presented them from participating.
Once the roles had been cast, Lee says, the journey was an emotional one. Many of the actors related to the stories their characters told, which made the show all the more personal for its performers. Duncan-Reese says, “The thing that I’ve learned is that we’re all so different, but all the same in a way. You can find a lot more friends in places you didn’t think you would have friends. If you take a moment to stop, wait, and take in the scenery, things will surprise you.”
After a successful run Jan. 24-26, the students will perform one final in-school show on Feb. 8 before heading to the Massachusetts Thespian Festival.
Ultimately, the student directors hope the show has helped spread some understanding about the diverse experiences of women of color. They also hope the production has an impact on the BLS students. Lee says, “We were personally very excited about the hope that seeing the show would encourage other kids and people of color to participate in theater and to feel like they would be welcomed.”
On the web
BLS play information: https://bit.ly/2TzsPEd
Massachusetts Thespian Festival: