MEET THE PLAYWRIGHT: Tarell Alvin McCraney

January 26, 2023

In 2007, I begin writing Choir Boy. I completed a degree that year and believed I would
never be in a formal school setting as a student again. My education about the world, its
joy and cruelty, were far from over, but I was reflecting a great deal about the education
system in my home country, state, city, and even neighbourhood. What were the pieces
of history, the modes of story telling, and the unspeakable and yet powerfully legible
lessons, passed on to me in that 20-year period? What was I to do it with it?

In that reflection it was clear my most valuable lessons came from my classmates. The
bullying and isolation in school fed the fire to be close, to hold friends, true friends,
tight, and to build towards the ‘beloved community’* regardless of how much we saw
the world differently. I returned to teaching hoping future pupils would not endure
those lessons now that I had learned them.

No one could have told me that bullying because of difference would not only challenge
students today but be apparent, applauded, and endorsed on so many levels: with
capital riots on Jan 6th, with legislation that challenges colleges to walk back every
mode and mean of expanding the fight against racism, and even in my own
neighborhood this play about young Black people dealing with the very real world issues
of homophobia, classicism, and gender expectations could not be seen by those same
young people because of new ‘don’t say gay’ laws and anti-queer sentiment in our
school systems.

I wrote this play back then as a reminder of how far we’d come, but it
serves today, still, as an immediate lament on how very far we have to go.

Tarell Alvin McCraney

*a term popularized by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, an aspirational vision of a community
centering values of justice, restoration, accountability, and healing

From 14 Feb