By Tajah Ware
A play by Nathan Alan Davis, Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea was uniquely interactive and thought provoking.
I went to see Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea last Friday night to support my friend Marlene Slaughter. She played Danielle, Dontrell’s younger sister. As I entered the theater, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The room the play was in was not that big and there was no stage – or at least not a stereotypical one. Chairs were arranged to form a square-like shape in the middle of the room – aka, the stage for the show. The stage was a concrete floor and there were trippy effects being cast from the ceiling. I felt like I was in an art show back in Chicago. As the lights dimmed and the eccentric ceiling lights awoke, I was almost instantly intrigued.
Because of the room’s set I was literally almost able to touch the actors. This might turn off some people, but it made me feel like I was in the play. The proximity between the actors and the audience made me feel as if they purposely wanted us to feel as involved as possible.
The opening scene was a dream – quite literally. In the opening scene, Dontrell has a dream about one of his ancestors on a slave ship. This ancestor impregnated another slave on the ship and then jumped off the boat the next day, wanting his seed to live on. Dontrell awakens and is almost frantic.
The whole play revolves around Dontrell and his obsession with this ancestor and how this obsession affects the people in his life. Dontrell wants to learn about the man he dreamed of, but is cautious to bring it up to his father, fearing his father would either come down on him or just ignore him.
Dontrell, like a lot of young African-Americans, is very curious about his lineage. I think this play brings up lot of unanswered questions for some people about their culture, which is a beautiful thing. The point of art is to awaken something in the viewer. There’s no way you could watch Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea and not feel a need to connect or form connections to your ancestors.
This play was interesting without being overly complicated, and touching without being overly sentimental. Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea is a play that will always be stuck in the back of my head.
Photograph courtesy of Tajah Ware