Company One production of ‘Black Super Hero Magic Mama’ explores grief with compassion and levity
This week, Company One Theatre (C1) launches its first in-person production since 2020, Inda Craig-Galván’s “Black Super Hero Magic Mama,” directed by Monica White Ndounou. Produced in collaboration with American Repertory Theater, Boston Public Library and Boston Comics in Color Festival, the show explores what happens when grief doesn’t follow its societal script.
When Black mother Sabrina Jackson’s son is killed by a white police officer, she retreats into the world of superheroes and comics that she used to enjoy with her child. In this imaginary space, she is able to control her own narrative in a way that her grief and the societal expectations around it won’t allow her in the real world.
Craig-Galván was inspired to write this show after watching Black mothers give press conferences and lead prayers in the wake of their children’s murders due to police violence. “I had a son who was two years older than Tamir Rice when that boy was killed. And my initial thought was, I couldn’t do what his mother’s doing,” she says. “It’s unfair that there’s an expectation of Black mothers to push past their grief for the sake of other people when the worst wrong has been done to them.”
She began to wonder, what if a mother couldn’t show up in the way she’s expected to? What other ways might that grief manifest? Craig-Galván explores these heavy themes with a balance of humor and levity.
The first draft of “Black Super Hero Magic Mama” was written in 2016. Since then, and particularly due to increased police violence in the past few years, Craig-Galván has made changes in the script to reflect our current moment. She has tweaked the humor in the piece so as not to burden anyone who is dealing with these experiences in real time, and she’s updated the dialogue to reflect new information. In one scene, Sabrina reads a Harry Potter book to her son, and the dialogue now reflects the author’s problematic political statements.
“A play is still a living breathing thing. It can always be amended and adapted and advised,” says Craig-Galván. “It’s important for me in this play to let it grow and breathe and for Sabrina and all the characters to change as things change in the world.”
“Black Super Hero Magic Mama” will run at Rabb Hall at the Central Boston Public Library in Copley Square from April 22–May 21. Tickets are pay-what-you-can for all attendees. In tandem with the production, the “Branch Out With C1” series will host programs around Boston with community partners facilitating conversations about the play and the real-life events that inspired it and centering healing and coping resources.
“Nobody should be thrown away; everyone should be embraced, particularly the marginalized kid who is often overlooked, and the mother who is given unrealistic expectations,” says Craig-Galván. “We’re responsible for each other.”