Interview: In the End Zone with Pravin Wilkins

Interview: In the End Zone with Pravin Wilkins

Playwright Pravin Wilkins in his play dusky

Theater503’s International Playwright Award is a wonderful thing indeed; How this small pub theater manages to attract entries for its biennial award from all over the world really showcases its reputation.

And of course, it’s always nice to see several selected pieces coming on stage over the next year or two. what brings us good duskyThe winning entry of 2020, which will debut on stage in March.

this debut of Praveen Wilkins Brings the football world to stage 503, though it’s not so much about the game (after all the stage isn’t big enough for a football game) but about the consequences caused by a player’s actions: Colin Kaepernick The Man Who knelt down first and started a movement, but at great personal cost.

With such a hot topic, we took this opportunity to chat with Praveen to find out more about the play and what brought him to this tiny pub theater in Battersea.

How did you hear about Theater503’s International Playwright Award? And is that something you’re going to tell everyone to be included in the next issue?

I received the Theater503 International Drama Award at the Playwrights Center, a resource that many playwrights use to track entry opportunities. Of the many open applications I’ve presented my work with, Theater503 offers by far the most complete package from a playwright’s perspective. This is already something I’m asking my playwright friends to submit works, especially as the applications for the 2023 Prize have just started.

Did winning an award help with your homework in Pittsburgh?

To put it simply and honestly, not now. I hope that the impetus for my playwright’s career will really begin when the play is presented at Theater 503 and people get to see my work in full on Stage 503. Since winning the award in 2020, some exciting opportunities have arisen – however, with COVID- 19 recently pushing theater into relative inaction in the US, I am mostly as a teacher and organizer to prepare for the moment was in his rut.

dusky Is Your First Play: Will 503 Have a World Premiere? And will you be here to see it happen?

I am thrilled to say that the Theater503 production will have its world premiere and I will be traveling to London for some rehearsals as well as previews and performances.

The play is set in the world of football: have you ever worried that it would alienate audiences from outside the US?

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No way. i remember when i was little movie undefeated, which revolved around rugby, was quite popular in the United States, although the sport is not widely seen there. I think it’s because this movie, as well dusky, is not just about sports, but about people who play sports and that politics should treat them as national (and sometimes international) figures. personal drama between the characters of dusky It is universal, and the broader conversation about racism in sport and social structures in general extends far beyond the borders of America, as these issues affect every country in the world.

Oscar Russell is credited as the “football coach” for the play, which sounds like an interesting addition; Does this mean we can see a quarterback firing on the stage (did you see how short the 503 stage is!)?

I won’t understand exactly what you’ll see (though, as a former defender, who doesn’t like seeing a quarterback get punished?), some elements of the game will be showcased on stage and Oscar’s professional endorsement is important. Was. , He helped our actors immensely in the task of embodying the particular role and situation of each character. apart from this, Nancy Medina (Director) and Ingrid McKinnon (The Movement Director) did an excellent job of making those moments work on the 503’s tiny stage.

Colin Kaepernick’s career appears to have been seriously hampered by his taking a knee: is this something you wanted to address in your sport – that politics and sports aren’t always easy companions?

Yes, Colin Kaepernick’s career was cut short by backlash from NFL owners and managers, as well as many fans, media personalities, and indeed, the former president himself. But politics, especially caste and class politics, cannot be separated from sport or, frankly, from any part of society. These questions are universal: Kaepernick, who took a knee during the national anthem in protest of police brutality, didn’t politicize the game, it brought up the fact that it already is. Becoming a messenger of necessary but unwanted truth is indeed a difficult task and a dramatically charged situation that dusky to explore.

From our vantage point on this side of the world, it seemed that American football showed a very racist core to its audience. Would that be a fair statement, or was it just a microcosm of what was happening across the country?

I don’t like to paint with a wide brush, but I will say that the hatred and anger from NFL fans has certainly diminished Kaepernick’s support and love amidst his protests. If you were to go to the NFL or SportsCenter comment section on a social media article about Cape at the time and check out the disgusting things people were saying… it was disgusting. With people demanding that he never play again, some even posted videos of him burning his shirt. However, with the election of Trump, a notoriously downright torchbearer of racism, I think we have seen clearly illustrated that there is indeed a deep and enduring white supremacist element across the country. So yes, the NFL fan reaction to Kaepernick’s protests reflects a broader view across America.

Taking a knee has become very political in the US and UK, with many politicians speaking in favor and against, the most famous being Trump himself. Is it still talked about a lot in America, and is it still causing such divisions?

The kneeling symbol not only continues to be widely discussed, but has also resurfaced with Eminem taking a knee during the Super Bowl LVI halftime show, which has received both praise and criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. . In addition, athletes from all over the world – the U.S. From women’s national team soccer players, to Olympic fencers, to European soccer players – at major global sporting events take a knee during performances of songs celebrating national pride: it has become a universally understood symbol of injustice. Protest, especially racial injustice. On the Monday after this year’s Super Bowl, MSNBC commentator Joy Reid wore a Kaepernick jersey as he and a co-host spoke about the halftime show and the ongoing lawsuit by former NFL coach Brian Flores, in which discrimination was alleged. So yes, the symbolic statement of kneeling and the essence behind it are both highly relevant and continue to reveal divisions in American society.

Do you think the racism around booing is the same in the US and UK? Do you think it has made a difference, and is it something that will change?

I don’t know enough about sports in the UK to determine whether fan reactions to players’ race or their stances on racial issues are similar to those in the US, but I believe it’s fair to say that racially charged ridicule is a They come from the same root, regardless of pronunciation. in which they are shouted. And while you can’t really stop booing a booze crowd, you can influence who makes up that crowd and how they view the players who make their entertainment possible. This change will come as the NFL and other major sports organizations focus more on diversity in signings at the highest levels, along with greater outreach to fans in black and brown communities. Due to people like former NFL coach Brian Flores, who is now struggling to hold the league accountable for potentially sabotage rules designed to bring in more people of color as coaches, there is a possibility that Things will get better. But with Colin Kaepernick’s NFL career effectively stripped of an almost certain collusion between NFL owners (who paid Kaepernick an uncountable sum to keep the details of the lawsuit under wraps), it’s clear that progress will be slow and will be frequently interrupted. by reactionaries. forces.

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What’s next for you? Is sports something you would like to focus on for future plays or will you venture into new areas for your next job?

I love sports, but for me social movements are central to my work. The football scene is simply the arena in which these conflicts unfold. More recently, I have been interested in labor movements and the history of American unions. I’m working on two projects along these lines: First, a play centered on a group of fictional employees on a college campus in San Diego, Calif., who must consider failing their union representation when their leaders become administrators. are conspiring with; The second is a TV drama set in Chicago in the late 1800s, covering the events of the Haymarket Riots and the wrongful executions of four anarchist labor organizers. The purpose of the first is to uncover and examine the growing modern renaissance of unions; Second, to honor the activists and organizers of previous generations, whose struggles are inextricably linked with ours. One day, though, I’m sure I’ll be back in the sport—maybe I’ll write something about basketball.

Our thanks to Praveen for taking the time to chat with us. dusky Opens at Theater503 on March 1st and then runs until March 26th. More details and reservation through the link given below.

About the author: Sarah Gracie

"Proud social media buff. Unapologetic web scholar. Internet guru. Lifelong music junkie. Travel specialist."

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