Lisa B. Thompson’s Underground (winner of the Austin Critics Table David Mark Cohen New Play Award) reunites Kyle and Mason, a pair of old college friends who have gone from radicals in their youth to successful professionals approaching middle age. The two have a chance to catch-up, reminisce and engage one another in a battle of intellects over the best road to Black liberation. As their argument becomes increasingly passionate and more personal, news reports reveal a police search for the leader of a Black radical political movement focused on reparations. From flashbacks to their first meeting to the final game of chess that could change their lives forever, Mason and Kyle each pose to one another the central question of Underground: how far would you go to protect your people?
This event is part of our year-long exploration on the theme of “Home, What does it look like now?” How can we reconsider home in the 21st century as we cross states and borders seeking comfort, safety and identity? Against the backdrop of a global pandemic and state sanctioned violence against black bodies, the Center for Black Visual Culture (CBVC) will explore the significant ways black visual narratives respond to the cultural, dynamic political, social, economic as well intimate changes that force us to (re)interrogate previous conceptions of home.
This reading of an excerpt from Underground will be followed by a conversation with playwright, Lisa B. Thompson, Bobby and Sherri Patton Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and author of Underground, Monroe, and The Mamalogues: Three Plays, and William Darity, Samuel DuBois Cook Distinguished Professor of Public Policy, and co-author (with Dr. A. Kirsten Mullen) of From Here to Equality, Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century, about the price of freedom, calculating reparations, and whether Black Americans will ever be “home” in the U.S. The event will conclude with time for audience Q&A. Cosponsored by the 370J Project, NYU; and the Department of Photography & Imaging, NYU Tisch School of the Arts.