Moment: A Scarf
In the introduction to her play, Fires in the Mirror, about another community’s unravelling, Anna Deavere Smith says, “everyone, in a given amount of time, will say something that is like poetry.” Zubaida’s monologue at the candle vigil is like poetry. Bart’s music elevates it to an aria. Words, music and candles? It’s like we’ve placed some grand opera in the middle of small town, Wyoming. It’s beautiful. And it makes it easier to act, now that I’ve gotten over worrying about being lost within the music and movement. I hardly even think about the words as I say them – they feel so natural.
When I found out I’d be playing Zubaida, I described her to a friend as “the cool-ass Muslim girl with the wikid monologue.” I love that monologue. Last semester, when President Broadhead sent out an email about the bad press around Duke and the frat emails, I thought of Zubaida’s words. He seemed to be saying “we need to show the world that Duke isn’t like this; that it’s just a tiny minority of students who are making everyone else look bad.” And in my head, Zubaida started talking: “No! We are like this. We ARE like this. WE are LIKE this.” I have a feeling her words will be with me for a long time.
And isn’t that cool? Just like she tells Stephen Belber – it’s so unreal that I, Kimi Goffe, a girl from Jamaica, am in North Carolina playing a Muslim girl with parents from Bangladesh, in a play about Wyoming written by a group from New York. I’m on stage, acting like I’m her, and she’s in my head, helping me articulate my feelings about the world around me. That’s so weird.
Moment: A Definition
Decide: To decide is to make up one’s mind as to what shall be done and the way to do it.
“Two years ago, because I’m Muslim, I decided to start wearing a scarf.”
Zubaida chose to wear a scarf. Contrary to popular images of Muslim women being oppressed and forced to wear the scarf, Zubaida’s scarf was her choice – something she decided. Realizing the importance of this word changed my performance of the monologue.
The beginning of the monologue also changed for me on Thursday night, when I was practicing before rehearsal. I realized that Zubaida is explaining herself. It’s almost as if she’s being asked, “So how come you have such a good Wyoming accent?” Or, “How long have you been in the U.S.”? That’s what it means to be an outsider – constantly having to explain yourself. It’s like Jonas Slonaker having to explain that he’s gay and still voluntarily lives in Laramie. It’s like Matt having to explain to Doc O’Connor that he’s gay and going to a gay bar, is that okay? It’s like me having to explain to Americans why I sound so Jamaican and to Jamaicans why I sound so American. So, it activated the monologue in a whole new way.
Family: any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins.
“As the grandmother and person who raised Russell, along with my family, we have written the following statement.”
The word ‘family’ is a very painful one for Lucy Thompson in this monologue. Her family is disintegrating. Her daughter was murdered in January and now, only three months later, her grandson is going to jail, maybe for the rest of his life. Certainly for the rest of her life. She will never see him outside of prison again. She knows that going into this speech. When I’m Lucy, I think about what she feels when she says ‘family’ or ‘we’ or ‘our.’ Is she reminded every time of her daughter? It makes the monologue hurt that much more.
Mercy: compassionate treatment of or attitude towards an offender, adversary, etc, who is in one’s power or care.
“You have shown such mercy in allowing us to have this plea…” (Lucy Thompson)
“To show mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy.” (Dennis Shepard)
It’s almost as if they are speaking to each other. One begging for mercy, the other granting it. This struck me as I was listening to Jacob perform tonight. They are on opposite sides of this case, but they are on the same side as well. To borrow from Doc O’Connor, the whole thing you see, the whole thing ropes around mercy.
Mercy mercy me
Things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Where did all the blue skies go?
(“Mercy Mercy Me”, Marvin Gaye)
After Matthew, in Laramie, (after Laramie at Duke?), things ain’t what they used to be, no, no.