In a drama that taps straight into these angry, anguished times, a Black artist responds to a police beating by becoming his white friend’s ‘enslaved person’. Pulitzer-winner Parks explains why she rewrote sections to make it even harder-hitting
In the summer of 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, protests began in Washington Square Park, a pigeon’s flight from Suzan-Lori Parks’s New York apartment. Parks and her son went almost every day, marching and chanting and waving signs, helping America along in its overdue racial reckoning.
Parks, 58, a Pulitzer-winning playwright and in-demand screenwriter, has been doing this for decades, though rarely with so much cardboard and poster paint. Her work – lyrical, incantatory, bleak and bright – digs into what she has called, in her 1993 drama The America Play, “the great hole of history”, the exploitation and exclusion of Americans of African descent. So it’s no surprise that Parks has written precisely the play for this anguished moment, White Noise, which had its UK debut at the Bridge theatre in London this month. The surprise is that she wrote it years ago.