Parks' rare, seductive theatre at UCT Arena

05 May 2003
In the Blood is a contemporary theatrical response to Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne's classic exploration of human passion and obsession with sin in Puritanical New England is recast in the story of Hester, La Negrita, a woman of passion trying to get "a leg up" on the inner city streets of a sprawling American urban metropolis.

Hester's world is the underbelly of society but playwright Suzan-Lori Parks' street life has a perspective that includes the economic and political dimension of Wall Street.

Parks is a rare, seductive, confrontational writer who creates her theatrical world through the patois of African-American street life shot through with passages of great poetic beauty; the classical, the contemporary and the specificity of gritty, urban-edged vernacular all flow from the pen of this innovative theatrical force.

Parks is unconventional in her approach to theatre offering non-traditional characters in non-traditional readings. Her previous works have offered staged figures that are used to explore the historiography of African-American identity.

In the Blood works with a similar level of metaphor and theatrical presentation but the characters are no longer voices from a historical past, they are present on any street of any urban center.

The 2002 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama, Parks has been described as "in a category of her own". After more than a decade of remarkable work, Parks has the fame and recognition due to her but occupies no comfortable place in American theatre.

In the Blood is directed by Liz Mills and will be performed at the UCT Arena Theatre from May 9 to 17 at 20h00. Booking through Sue Cole on 4807129 or

Tickets: R35 and R25 for students and pensioners.

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