CulturalDC announced the 25 Finalists for the “2013 Source Festival” full length plays. One of the 25 finalists is Rockford native, Nathan A. Davis. I learned about this because someone posted the press release on his Facebook page. I have not heard of this festival, but a friend who lives in Washington DC tells me this IS a big deal. For those who may not know the connection…Nathan A. Davis is my son.
While I don’t know much about CulturalDC, I know about this play. It’s called “The Wind and the Breeze” and this isn’t the first time it’s earned recognition. It was one of six plays selected for the 2012 NNPN/Kennedy Center MFA Workshop. Last summer Nathan spent a week at the Kennedy Center in DC working with professional actors, and directors to do a staged reading of the play. The NNPN stands for “National New Plays Network” and their mission is to find new voices for American Theater.
It is probable, that opportunity led to this one. The Source Festival is an invitation-only submission.
“The Wind and the Breeze” is set on a bridge in a Midwestern, economically struggling, smallish, working class city. In the rough draft, the city was unnamed, but in the final draft it’s Rockford. I don’t know how people will feel about that once they have seen the play. If they want a glowing, idyllic portrayal of Rockford, they will be disappointed. Hopefully they’ll be amazed at Nathan’s ability to make them see and feel and understand something in a way that will remain long after they’ve seen the production. That was one of the criteria for the first play competition he won.
My husband, George, and I moved to Rockford because we wanted to start a family and live in a community with arts opportunities. Rockford was close enough to Milwaukee for me to study with a master mime artist, and New American Theater was thriving, albeit housed in a storefront with a support beam on stage.
A year after we moved here, George was in the “Great White Hope” at NAT and Nathan was born the week after it closed. Six years later I worked at Spectrum Progressive School as a mime and drama artist so our children could go there. Spectrum incorporates the arts throughout curriculum, and encourages children to fully develop their interests and talents. Nathan’s first acting role was the Gingerbread boy in kindergarten. His final middle school class project was adapting Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” into a full length play. He was one of the script writers and played Gandalf in the production. Nathan graduated from District 205′s Auburn High School’s CAPA Theater program.
So Rockford turned out to be a good arts community for us, and our children, and now some grandchildren. Our daughter is a published writer, and just finished her memoir. Her children now go to Spectrum Progressive, and while I don’t know what they will ultimately become, right now there is dancing, singing, and drawing abstract shapes on my walls.
I do not know if “the Wind and the Breeze” will be selected for the DC festival. Over 100 were invited to submit and it has made the final 25. Only three will be chosen to be produced. Regardless of whether it wins, this play will be seen someday, and perhaps soon. There were 100 readers of the Festival submissions and he’s already heard a theater producer in New York was impressed enough to remember it and him. And it’s being considered for the Kennedy Center’s Lorraine Hansberry Playwright award.
When this play hits the stage, I’ll organize a field trip for friends, family, and teachers, so the “village” that raised him can see the results.
About “The Wind and the Breeze”
He didn’t ask for it, but coming of age in working-class Rockford, IL, Sam became a legend: Undisputedly the best rapper in town, as well as the surrogate big brother of his generation. But as his former mentees plan a move to Atlanta – with dreams of making it big in the music industry – friendships realign, new battle lines are drawn and more than one kind of storm is thickening the air.
The Wind and the Breeze is a penetrating meditation on the yearnings of the Hip Hop generation in the American Midwest. It probes depths both comic and tragic, exploring the fragility of friendship, the specter of unspoken expectations, the pull of collective fate and the fluctuating line between courage and cowardice when we choose to stand our ground on shifting sands.
Nathan Alan Davis is a Midwest based playwright whose chosen influences include Hip Hop, classical tragedy and mysticism. His plays have been developed at CENTERSTAGE (Baltimore), Chicago Dramatists and the NNPN/Kennedy Center MFA Playwrights Workshop.
As a performer, Nathan has worked with theatre companies throughout Chicago including Collaboraction, Goodman Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, Pegasus Players, Raven Theatre and Steppenwolf Theatre. Internationally, he has served as a writer, performer and dialogue facilitator in South Africa for the dance/drama troupe Beyond Words.
Nathan is pursuing his MFA in Playwriting at Indiana University Bloomington. His BFA in Acting is from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Playwright’s Artistic Statement:
I am compelled by transcendence. By our ability to reframe, re-imagine and re-define the world as we move through it. A story can find the hidden order in chaos. A play can give us the language of beauty in the face of catastrophe. My characters tend to be capable of heightened eloquence and expression.
I love Hip Hop and the spirit that animates it.
I am haunted by the injustices of our collective history. I write to call account and to revive the dead.
I seek out humor – laughter it is not merely a comfort, but the joyful elation felt when truth finally knocks on the door.
I am a playwright of mixed race. The African Diaspora and the Western Tradition are both essential parts of my identity. I do not forsake one for the other. I let them collide, support and invigorate each other.
I am a Bahá’í. I work for the realization of an ever advancing, united world civilization.