BWW Blog: Houston Playwright Alric Davis Talks Origins of Original Play DIFFERENT, DAMAGED, DAMNED Set to Premiere at DC's Capital Fringe Festival
In 2011, while I was still in high school, I stumbled upon the Gary Plauche murder case, in which Plauche fatally shot his son's kidnapper and longtime sexual abuser on live television. I was fascinated by the overwhelming support that Plauche received. Many even praised his vigilante acts and his five-year probationary sentence.What was even more fascinating to me was my grandfather saying he would've done the same thing if put in the same circumstances.
I began to write a play that blended the uniqueness of my grandfather and the Gary Plauche incident. It resulted in the first draft of DIFFERENT, DAMAGED, DAMNED that was entitled SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY. Reset in a small Texas town, a father discovers that his son is being sexually abused by his football coach and hatches a plan for revenge based on his own sense of justice. Part action play and part pseudo-Greek play, I submitted SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY to the HYPE, the Houston Young Playwrights Exchange program at the Alley Theatre. Thankfully, it was selected.
During that program, being surrounded by such talented writers, actors and directors, the story grew into something bigger than an action play. With the help of my mentors and peers, I realized that there was a bigger story than I originally summed up.
This was a play about men. Moreover, what it meant to be a man. The questions that haunted me, still haunt me, kept arising within the words of the characters: What's in a man? What does that look like? What does that feel like? How do you know if you're a man? How/when do we recognize it when we see it in others? In ourselves? Does sexuality change/shape our manhood?
My whole life I had dealt with these questions as I stumbled towards adulthood. I was different from most of the people I considered "men." I didn't like sports. I actually hated sports. I didn't have muscles or countless promiscuous sexual encounters. I wasn't particularly strong - actually I had an almost laughable amount of upper body strength. And, as actors are taught to be, I was sensitive. I was always told to "man up" whenever I showed my feelings, so after a while I stopped showing them. So while I felt I fit into a young man's label, I wasn't too sure if I fit into the label of being a "man."
My colleagues at HYPE saw these theoretical explorations within my work and teased it out of me even more. SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY had changed from its original conception and begged for a new name. After countless name changes, I finally settled on DIFFERENT, DAMAGED, DAMNED and it has stuck since. Those three words: different, damaged, damned describe not just the three men within this play but men worldwide.
As men, we are all different. Though I believe we are all designed from the same godly hand, we all were made uniquely. We each have our rhythm-walk, our own distinct drives and desires. Those desires can sometimes lead us to choices that cause damage, on ourselves or others, and leave their mark for us to remember. Furthermore, I don't believe we are born bad. It is when we grow up into our own and stray away from our path that we make mistakes. In some cases, we even become shadows of who we really are. These new beings, beings of darkness and negativity, they are damned. The character's names: Ralph, Cham and Ury are derivatives of the names of Archangels. Though they have these names and innate spiritual qualities, they make mistakes that are relatable and recognizable. They lie, cheat, steal and so on, committing sins to get what they need just as we do. This title felt more suited to talk about something on a larger scale.
The new conception of the play focuses on Ralph and Cham's father-son relationship as Ralph tries to understand why Cham was just arrested for breaking and entering in another part of town. Ralph takes Cham on an impromptu bonding trip in search of the truth. They struggle to grasp each other, both set in their own ways and afraid of judgment. Cham eventually reveals the real reason for his arrest and the incident that follows rocks the both of them inside and out.
I've collaborated with some talented and thoughtful people here at Howard University in order to bring this show to life in a new light. We've undertaken the arduous task of producing this work relatively on our own, but measured by our excitement matched with our overwhelming amount of support and love, we're up for the challenge. I hope that this show leaves a lasting memory and continues to develop into something dynamic.
DIFFERENT, DAMAGED, DAMNED directed by Nate Shelton will be produced this summer at the 2016 Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, D.C. by the Orange Moon Players. Performances are Thursday, July 7 at 7:15 pm; Sunday, July 10 at 2 p.m.; Saturday, July 16 at 2:15 pm; Tuesday, July 19 at 5:15 p.m.; and Saturday, July 23 at 2:15 p.m. at MLK Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street NW.