May 20, 21, 25 and 26 at 8pm
647 Fulton Street
The Messiah Complex is a love story. Or many. It centers on Malika, a teenager on the trans-spectrum, who creates an alter-ego named Messiah, a popular basketball-ball star and aspiring rapper. When Messiah’s secret is revealed at 16, all comes crashing down, and s/he makes a fatal mistake. “DJ Messiah,” 10 years later, must face the literal ghost of a past mistake unearthed through a nightclub turned ritual. But this ghost wants more than reckoning. Set to the sound of hip-hop, the ring shout, and the wailing of ghosts, Messiah must find a way home.
The Messiah Complex, a new play written by Nia Witherspoon and directed by Charlotte Brathwaite with choreography by Ni’Ja Whitson and dramaturgy by Cherríe Moraga. Featuring a predominately black, queer and trans cast and creative team, The Messiah Complex is a play about the legacy of the Panthers in the age of crack, where a scratch at a DJ booth incites a replay of the past, an action that interrogates generations of violence on black, queer bodies. This BRIClab Commission brings ritual into the theater, shifting from the secular to the sacred through rites already present in black life—the frenzy of a nightclub, the libations poured on street corners, and the sonic landscapes of hip hop. Ultimately, The Messiah Complex tells a story of recognition, revolution and forgiveness.
Playwright Witherspoon remarks, “As queer people of color we’ve got programs, non-profits that pass out condoms, but do we have a reason to live? This is one of the questions The Messiah Complex explores. This project is unique in its ability to call upon African diaspora ritual language, listen to the shouting of unsettled ghosts at the bottom of the Atlantic (and the subway line), and yet remain frighteningly embroiled in the ghetto history of our present as urban people of color with tribal roots. This project is not afraid to make connections between the ancient and the contemporary, suggesting the existence of a divine imperative for queer bodies that has been all but forgotten.” The cast for The Messiah Complex includes Mikel Banks, Marcus Brandon, Anyanwu Glanville, Joel Daniels, Kirsten Davis, Tiffany James, Linda La Montanez, Shelley Nicole, Kirya Traber, and Tanisha Thompson, with original music composed by Justin Hicks.
$15 in advance / $18 at the door