(PATERSON, NJ) -- The Paterson Performing Arts Development Council (PPADC) announced that Monica Prince will be the organization’s 2023 Playwright In-Residence. Prince’s choreopoem Roadmap will be the centerstage featured play of PPADC’s Annual Hamilton Arts Festival (HAF). Now in its third season, the festival runs June 15–24, 2023 and features a series of events including theatrical productions and film screenings.
PPADC’s Playwright-In-Residence program provides a monetary stipend and developmental support to writers, which includes working with a dramaturg, director, and other production team members to mount a mainstage production of Roadmap. The residency program was created to expand the diversity of plays produced on the main stage, to generate public value through the interaction of playwrights with local communities and to foster unique narratives in the arts.
Monica Prince is a teacher of performance art at Susquehanna University and the author of How to Exterminate the Black Woman: A Choreopoem, Instructions for Temporary Survival and Letters from the Other Woman. She writes with a performance lens, trying to emphasize that what she says matters and deserves a platform. She brings a brilliant mix of mysticism, real world sobriety and movement to Roadmap, which asks its lead character, a young Black American man to thwart his inevitable murder.
“I wrote Roadmap after learning about the CDC statistic that stated that the most likely cause of death for Black men aged 15-34 is homicide,” says Prince. “As a Black woman whose primary responsibility is to love, support, and protect Black men (historically, culturally, socially), I needed an outlet for the rage and grief this built within me. I wanted to talk about the suffering we experience as a Black community, vicariously and directly, while couching the choreopoem in Black resilience, love, and testimony.” Prince also shares that in essence she created this choreopoem for her little brother, father, husband, and all the Black men she’s ever known and loved—and for the people who shape the lives of Black men around their survival and longevity.
In Roadmap, the lead character, Dorian, tries to save his own life by looking into his past and his present. He wishes to live a full life without violence and to grow old. But the world tells him he can't—because he's Black and part of a legacy of fatality at an early age. “I hope audiences recognize the privilege of making it past 30, past 50, past 70 (years of age), especially for a Black man,” says Prince. “I hope they leave the room filled with the kind of love that goes into loving someone no one else wants to keep alive; how it tears you apart while simultaneously lifting you up. I hope they realize that the genocide of Black Americans isn't new, but we can make it unpopular.”
PPADC’s Board President Denise Womack says, “not only is this a smartly written work that blends ancestry, spiritualism, psychology, and the very real challenge for Black men to not become an expected statistic into a compelling call to action, but it also represents something of a full circle moment for us.” Womack explains that “Prince was an instrumental contributor to our very first festival’s 2021 residency team, helping hone “For Colored Boyz on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown when Freedom Ain’t Enuff” by Bryan-Keyth Wilson; and now, with Roadmap, we get to reiterate what makes this genre critical to the narratives of our stories and to highlight that Prince is one of the genre’s most relevant voices.”
According to the Dramatist Guild of America, just 9% of BIPOC playwrights get to see their work make it to the mainstage across the United States. For women writers of color just a mere 3% nationwide ever get to see their work produced. This statistic has barely moved since the inception of PPADC’s residency program. So, echoes founding Board member Carolyn M. Brown, “We are thrilled to continue to be in a position to showcase the caliber of work that Prince brings to the table. We have had great success in bringing our residents’ productions to the next level and this is one certainly not to be missed off that list.”
PPADC’s Playwright-In-Residence and Hamilton Arts Festival are made possible with funds from the Passaic County Cultural & Heritage Council, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Paterson Performing Arts Development Council (PPADC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is dedicated to fostering collaboration with other local organizations and community partners to provide increased access and opportunities to artists of diverse backgrounds. PPADC is on a mission to establish pathways for new and accomplished artists to develop new works and to offer cultural events to communities in Paterson, NJ. PPADC is an Affiliate Member of New Jersey Theater Alliance, the country’s first statewide professional theater service organization, representing a consortium of 40 performing arts and theater companies.
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