Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wig Out!

It was the same feeling I experience after eating a new dish and immediately knowing that I like it yet not being able to immediately identify all of the ingredients that make it so tasty to me. The sounds, sights and feel of the Vineyard Theater production of Wig Out! written by Tarell Alvin McCraney were delicious and after savoring it in my mind I realized what that secret ingredient was that made it so good.

The cast, lighting, costumes, wigs and makeup and skilled direction are all notable but the ingredient that makes it so good is the script by McCraney that taps into the desire of all men and women to simply belong. It is a desire that transcends and enters into the psyche of people no matter who or where they are. It is the desire that is often the basis for love and hate, clarity and confusion. Everyone wants to belong – to something, some group, or sometimes just somebody. It is a difficult journey to navigate – finding at first, and maybe even all at once – who you are, where do you fit in the world, how do you fit in it and how to maintain that mental and physical positioning. The play explores each of these questions through its characters and even tinkers with the question of what does one do when the place they thought they fit, they don’t anymore. Where do you go then, a new world or just a new place in the old one?

While the playwright explores the idea of belonging in a world, a family and in ones own skin that are universal issues, he chooses to do so in this work in a world, family and in the skin people from an often underrepresented, marginalized, financially poor black gay co-culture that the mass of audiences of the show are unfamiliar. That is an additional unmistakable beauty of the production as a means to educate through art sense. It shines the light, if only briefly, on the humanness of us all regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and class. Wig Out! is a much welcomed and delicious body of work.