Waiting for Giovanni
By Jewelle Gomez (in collaboration with Harry Waters Jr.)
Directed by Mark Finley
Featuring: Jordan J. Adams, Neil Dawson, Jonathan Dewberry, Robert Walker Jeffery, Ken Simon, Michael Striano, and Joy Sudduth
It’s 1957. Bombs are exploding in Black churches and lynchings are a fact of life for many across the U.S. From these ashes a young Black writer emerges to become a literary celebrity bringing with him both his boundless talent and personal insecurities. Waiting for Giovanni imagines a moment in the mind of James Baldwin in which he struggles with writing a novel that he’s been told will ruin his career.
“Much of the play deals with the power of words, especially Baldwin’s fascination with and ability to use words. Along with the sit-ins, boycotts, demonstrations, riots, and marches, the civil rights movement was a battle over the use of words and the perspectives they carried with them.
“‘Black’ sought to supplant “colored” and “Negro” and in time was itself succeeded by “African-American.” “Homosexual” and “deviant” were toppled by “queer” and “gay,” which in turn are now evolving into an ever-changing spectrum of more inclusive initials. More than acceptance and awareness, the fight for words has been a fight for pride.
“It is this conflict which Gomez captures so poignantly.”