15 Ramadan 1441

It may come as no surprise, but there are perks to pandemic living—also known as, when shit hits the fan and splatters over all the walls of the room you are so privileged to take shelter in.

One of those perks is you feel liberated to say what you mean because you know what really matters and you are hyper aware all of our days are numbered.

Today, my students were scheduled to take their final exam. I replaced the exam with a collaborative group assignment (which I will share in another post after Ramadan) in which they were asked to write a short play. I assigned each group the subject matter they were to address with a set of characters selected from the books they were assigned to read throughout the semester. They all offered a reading of their short plays today.

For example, two groups were assigned the subject “On Racism” and given the following cast of characters to choose from:

  • Claudia Rankine/The narrator from Citizen
  • Malcolm X from The Autobiography of Malcolm x
  • Circe from Song of Solomon
  • Miguel de Cervantes/The Narrator from Don Quixote
  • Any of the characters from William Shakespeare’s Othello

One group chose to have their characters discuss one of 45’s many racist tweets in a podcast hosted by the character Claudia Rankine. At one point in their play, Malcolm X says, “Only the ‘devilish white man’ would say such a thing!” To which white Brabantio—father of white Desdemona who secretly marries Othello, a black military general for the Venetian army—responds,

But that cannot be I. I am not a devilish white but a noble white, fair in skin and spirit. Have you not heard of how I oft invited over the Moor Othello and granted him the honour to inform me of his vast military engagements and coloured life experiences? 

Oh, to say I had a good, long chuckle would not fully describe my state.

After each reading, the wonderful artists received feedback. I pulled from the Liz Lerman method I learned from my fabulous playwriting teacher and comedy writer Kate Moira Ryan, and asked everyone to respond in the Zoom chat with affirmative statements of meaning for a minute. Then I asked for two questions for the artists about their creative choices.

So, for the above group, when the second question took some time to be formulated, I asked, “Who do you think Brabantio will vote for in 2020?”

Students immediately responded, *rump!

Oh, to say I had a good, long chuckle would not fully describe my state.

And I concluded, I know I’m being recorded, but you right—Brabantio is a d*ck.

And no autocorrect, I didn’t say duck.

The end.


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