“Blacks in America want to forget slavery–the stigma, the shame,” August Wilson told the New York Times in 1987. “That’s the wrong move. If you can’t be who you are, who can you be?” Wilson’s theatrical mission–unique in his time–was, he said, “about reclaiming those things which were lost during slavery.” This is one of the major themes of Personal History, a drama by Dominic Taylor.
Personal History follows an African-American couple as they navigate three moments in American life, stretched out over a century in the city of Chicago. The highly educated pharmacist Eugene enters the world of the play in 1903, outraged that he is overqualified and underemployed. At an elegant parlor party hosted by his white business associate, Eugene scandalizes the other guests by challenging their comfortable liberalism. He also meets his future bride, Bethany, herself an accomplished business owner. As the action shifts from 1903 to the 1950s and eventually, to the 1990s, their relationship changes. The play is a snapshot of the history of African Americans and their struggles in this country.
Produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc. (www.playscripts.com)