Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, Nicole Bell, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo. Five black and powerless folks whose lives were turned upside down in the US, a white-dominated society that constantly lectures the rest of the world about democracy, equality, justice and human rights.
But this is a society that failed to provide a serious answer to the following enigmatic question: why black people are being treated as second-class citizens 50 years after the ‘I have a dream speech’ delivered by Dr Martin Luther King?
And when things stay the same year in year out even after sreaming for over five decades, outrage and frustration boil down among black communities, inspiring artists to showcase the US’ main weaknesses. This is how Outcry came into being.
Outcry, a fictional experimental play based on the true stories of the above-mentioned individuals, exposes the danger of racism and injustice in the so-called ‘most civilised society’ in the world.
“In this play, the worlds of five very different individuals collide,” playwright Thais Francis tells Moon of the South in an exclusive interview.
“I wrote the play because I was deeply affected by the death of Trayvon Martin. I didn’t choose to write this play, this play chose me to be a vessel into the world,” Francis says emotionally.
“I didn’t understand why deaths like these were still occurring, especially in a ‘progressive’ society. OUTCRY was a response to injustice using theatre as a voice.”
Outcry is set in the dream of Nicole Bell, whose fiancé was murdered the night before her wedding. The play begins when two teenage boys (Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till) meet for the first time and as the story continues the lives of Mamie Till (Emmett’s mother) Amadou Diallo and Nicole Bell unfold.
Through the characters onstage, the audience is forced to ask “What Happens When you Scream and No one Hears”.
Reaching out to South Africa
Now, Francis is reaching out to South Africa – a thriving art community as she put it – to help her develop, produce Outcry and take it to the next level.
Asked why she chose South Africa, she replies: “I chose South Africa because I am familiar with theatre programmes in the country, I was heavily invested in the country and the story of apartheid as a child, and I know that social justice and my production will resonate well there.”
Francis is an actor, dancer, singer, writer, producer and instrumentalist born in Trinidad and Tobago, and raised in Maryland. She graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts, at New York University where she studied drama.
Watch this space!