ROUNDABOUT BLOG

Little Children Dream of God

 

Immerse yourself in the world of Little Children Dream of God with our recommended reading, watching and doing lists compiled with thanks to Assistant Director Gabriel Weissman.

TO READ

Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica

by Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston’s account of her travels in Haiti and Jamaica. Hurston, an Alabama and Florida native, traveled the two nations throughout 1936 and 1937 on a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. Her travelogue offers both an American’s and an insider’s perspective on Haitian vodou, since she chose to take a participatory approach to her research, joining in the vodou rituals even as she studied them.

“Dreaming in Haitian Vodou: Vouchsafe, Guide and Source of Liturgical Novelty”

by Adam M. McGee

Dreams play a significant role in Little Children Dream of God. This academic essay by Harvard scholar (and oungan, or initiated vodou priest) Adam M. McGee expands on the relationship between dreams and Haitian vodou culture. McGee’s description of the Haitian vodou dream world as “a porous territory suffused with spiritual powers and entities” offers a real-world exploration of some of the most theatrical moments of Little Children Dream of God, in which Sula encounters her husband in a terrifying series of dreams, as well as a broader understanding of dreams in Haitian vodou culture and scholarship.

Immigration Policy and Facts

The following articles provide a snapshot of the complex systems of US Immigration Policy. The articles include some of the most recent federal developments as well as general and Haiti-specific statistics.

“Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States”

“Remarks by the President in Immigration Town Hall – Miami, FL”

“Haitian Immigrants in the United States”

“For Immigrants, Fear Returns After a Federal Judge’s Ruling”


TO WATCH

“PBS: Egalite for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution”

Sula names her baby boy Toussaint after Revolutionary hero Toussaint Louverture, who led the first successful slave revolt in history (in 1791) and launched the Haitian Revolution. This documentary covers the Revolution’s impact in Haiti as well as the reverberations of Haitian freedom throughout the US.

“Soledad O’Brien Speaks with Jean-Claude Duvalier”


In a 2014 Al Jazeera America interview, Special Correspondent Soledad O’Brien speaks with former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier (aka “Baby Doc”) as well as Robert Duval, a political prisoner during Duvalier’s reign. Duvalier is the son of another Haitian dictator, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Both were known for their brutality. Throughout the father and son’s reigns (1957 - 1986), some 30,000-60,0000 Haitians were killed, and thousands of others were raped, beaten, and tortured at the hands of the Volunteers for National Security, colloquially known as the Tontons Macoutes, or “bogeymen.” “Baby Doc,” in particular, was also known for incurring high debts and embezzling millions of dollars in international aid. The elder Duvalier died in 1971, and the younger died in 2014.

TO DO

The Haitian Creole Language Institute of New York

Though direct descendants of Haitian immigrants, both Joel and Madison have only a shaky grasp on their family’s native language. If you’re looking to expand your own knowledge of Haitian Creole, explore Brooklyn’s HCLI, which offers workshops, seminars, and small-group activities to those looking to read, write, and/or speak Haitian Creole. Winter 2015 classes included Elementary Haitian Creole and Haitian Creole for Heritage Learners. The institute also offers translation services, dialect coaching for performers, and cultural training.


Little Children Dream of God plays at Roundabout Underground through April 5. For more information and tickets, visit our website.


Related Categories:
2014-2015 Season, Little Children Dream of God, Roundabout Recommends


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Magical Realism on Stage

Posted on: March 27th, 2015 by Roundabout

 

In Little Children Dream of God, playwright Jeff Augustin uses aspects of magical realism, a style that originated in literature and visual art. The framework of his play is apparently realistic, until elements of dream, magic, and supernatural phenomena are introduced.

Magical realism first appeared in the works of Latin American novelists like Gabriel Garcia Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges. Novelists of this style allow fantasy to coexist with realism, so that boundaries are erased and neither reality nor fantasy is subordinate to the other. In theatre, magical realist plays have largely been associated with writers from marginalized groups. The re-envisioning of a “reality” dominated by rationalism is a powerful artistic strategy to challenge the status quo and traditional, Western classifications. Augustin joins a growing number of American playwrights who, over the past two decades, have been exploring the potential of magical realism on stage.

Jose Rivera

Born in Puerto Rico but raised on Long Island, Rivera initially tried to portray the Latino-American experience through kitchen-sink naturalism, but his shift to magical realism lead to his breakout 1992 play, Marisol. In an apocalyptic version of the Bronx, a young woman meets her guardian angel, who warns Marisol that the angels are planning a revolution against a senile God. Rivera recalled the impetus for his shift from realism: “I was exploring my cultural heritage by writing in a new form, employing the myths and legends of my grandparents. That was a real liberation for me.”

Tony Kushner

With an angel crashing through the ceiling, diorama mannequins coming to life, and a hallucinated travel agent, magical events are foundational to Angels in America. Kushner recognized Márquez’s influence over many writers of his generation. His interest in magic on stage came from a desire to push theatre’s capacity beyond “that whole sort of illusion-reality paradigm.” Central to Kushner’s vision is an acknowledgement of the theatrical illusion, as stated in his stage direction for Angels: “[I]t’s OK if the wires show, and maybe it’s good that they do.”

AIA

Fort Worth Opera's production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America

Sarah Ruhl

In The Clean House, Ruhl brings elements of fantasy to intrude on the realistic household setting; snow falls indoors, and apples fall from the sky into the living room. A magical lyricism informs Ruhl’s play Eurydice, and she most recently used elements of magical realism and puppetry to explore reincarnation in The Oldest Boy. Ruhl has articulated her interest in theatrical forms that move away from a Freudian-based “realism” on stage: “[I]f you excavate people’s subjectivity and how they view the world emotionally, you don’t get realism.”

A production of Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice at The Pheonix Theatre


Little Children Dream of God is playing at the Black Box Theatre through April 5. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.


Related Categories:
2014-2015 Season, Education @ Roundabout, Little Children Dream of God, Little Children Dream of God, Roundabout Underground, Upstage


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Designer Statements: Little Children Dream of God

Posted on: March 21st, 2015 by Roundabout

 

ANDREW BOYCE, Set Design

Little Children Dream of God in its scope, use of language, poetic narrative, and culturally specific perspective has given me so much to explore. My hope is that we’ve created a world that enriches and emboldens the mystery and poeticism of the play. Set primarily in Overtown—a neighborhood in Miami—as well as numerous other locations, the play calls for a transformative, flexible space that allows for moments of specificity and location set within a larger dreamscape. Our goal has been to create a design that bends to the audience’s imagination and supports the heightened theatricality and ephemeral quality that runs deeply through the narrative and language. We also hoped to find a gesture that was singular in its tonality—but also culturally specific to both Overtown, Miami and to the Haitian community that lives there. In researching this world, we found ourselves drawn to the murals of artist Purvis Young. We found his dynamic, expressionistic work to be whimsical and iconographic, dark and dangerous—yet playful—existing at a crossroads of folksy and urban. This is a modern, timely, American myth tapping deeply into the traditions of a specific community.

Set Design

GINA SCHERR, Lighting Design

The main consideration in lighting Little Children Dream of God is accounting for the many different locations and moods in the piece. As we transition from the ocean to an apartment etc., the light will help locate us within the frame of the flexible set. At the same time, the relationship between dreams and waking life will also need to be delineated with light, while allowing the worlds to bleed together in the liminal space. One major influence that came up during the design process involves the vibrant Haitian immigrant life in Miami. The scenic mural certainly helps illustrate that idea, and the light will play off of that with saturated colors and bold shapes. The darkness of the play, reflected in the scenic design, is another consideration. The light will need to reflect the haunting of the characters while serving the needs of the space. As we shift between vodou dreams and reality, the light will clarify where we are and where we’re going. It’s a marrying of the worlds of darkness and light, good and evil, and past and future.

JENNIFER CAPRIO, Costume Design

When I first read Little Children Dream of God, I imagined the beautifully naturalistic world that Jeff (our playwright) has created, the world in which the play seems to live. This world, however, has a darker, more surreal and magical counterpart that resides in the language, characters, and conflicts of the piece. The two, the realism and the magic, live in a beautiful harmony. To wrap my head around this dichotomy, my first steps were what I consider seemingly obvious—I read the play, I made lists, I talked to Giovanna, our fearless director, to see what she envisioned for the visual language and world of the play. I asked Jeff why he wrote the play. That’s an important piece for me to get inside a new work. Then, armed with this knowledge, I spent several days at the Strand Bookstore, in the library, and on the web researching images. I researched vodou practices so I could begin to understand the darker parts of the piece. I immersed myself in images of Overtown, Miami, to get a sense of the realistic world in which these characters reside. After pouring over images, Giovanna and I decided the best approach to the costume design was to make the clothes as realistic as possible. The only way we can believe some of the things that the characters tell us is to visually believe the characters as honestly as they take themselves. Then, even though this particular show is set in the modern day and the clothes are not being custom made, I drew many sketches so Giovanna, Jeff, and our cast could get a true sense of each character’s visual arc. The next step resulted in a lot of “method shopping,” or trying to figure out where characters would actually shop. Would they go to WalMart or Saks? Once we get believable looks, the team then can address the magical (what does 11 months pregnant look like?). Hopefully all of this collaboration results in an audience completely believing each character and, for a play like this, having the costumes become part of the actors’ physicality so that they don’t even appear to be wearing a “costume.”

CostumeDesigns

 


 

Little Children Dream of God is playing at the Black Box Theatre through April 5. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.


Related Categories:
2014-2015 Season, Education @ Roundabout, Little Children Dream of God, Little Children Dream of God, Roundabout Underground, Upstage


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