Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Gender and Race Consciousness

BOND: How does race consciousness affect your work?

HALL: I write about black people. And the reason why I write about black people is because as a playwright, I don't see myself as reflected on stage very often. And when I do see myself reflected, it's like, in a servant role, or it's not very complex. So my ultimate goal in this lifetime is to create a body of work that has a complex array of African American characters in it. I will always want to write work -- I write plays that are extremely complex in that they are unafraid of tackling the big issues in our society, such as racism, such as classism, such as homophobia within the black community. I'm interested in those things, but mostly I have dedicated myself in the endeavor of developing characters on stage that are African American. I mean, I'm coming on the heels of someone like August Wilson, who has this beautiful body of work, you know, plays that extend from slavery till now. But most of those roles—most of those plays contain predominantly male roles, African American male roles. And so as a person who is a young, black woman, I want to see the intersection of that. I want to see female and black characters on stage, and so I tend to write really wonderful roles for black women. I mean, I write great roles for black men too, but I see that there is a dearth of work for young, African American actresses and I really want to see that on stage before I pass, which will hopefully be very, very further down the line. [laugh]

BOND: We hope so. Let me ask you to respond to a quote from a man name William Allen. He says there's a danger in continually thinking of race or gender until we learn to once again, to use the language of American freedom, in an appropriate way that embraces us all, we're going to continue to harm this country. Is there a danger of divisiveness when you focus on the concept of black leadership?

HALL: I must say that I don't think there is a danger to focus on the concept of black leadership. I don't think there is a danger in focusing on sex or race. I think in focusing and deconstructing the specificities of that, one can move America forward because that's where we're lacking. That's the one place where we as Americans haven't moved forward on, and so in order to get to the place of freedom and justice and equality for all, we have to dismantle those shackles mentally that we have created in regards to, you know, always putting blacks last, always putting women last. I don't think it's a divisive thing to talk about the problems that certain groups of people come up against.