In the Blood (play)

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In The Blood
Written by Suzan-Lori Parks
Characters Hester, La Negrita
Jabber
Bully
Trouble
Beauty
Baby
Amiga Gringa
The Doctor
Welfare Lady
Reverend D.
Chilli
Date premiered November 1999
Place premiered Joseph Papp Public Theater
New York
Original language English
Genre Tragedy
Setting New York

In The Blood is a play written by Suzan-Lori Parks which first premiered at The Joseph Papp Public Theater on November 1999. Parks borrowed many aspects from Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and wanted to create a play based on the novel. She originally wanted to call the play Fucking A, but scrapped the idea. She later wrote the story based on the main character from The Scarlet Letter, and turned the story into more modern era, and changed the title to In The Blood.[1] Suzan-Lori Parks became a nominee for the Pulitzer prize for this play in 2000, but later won the prize for another work Topdog/Underdog.[2]

Plot Synopsis[edit]

In The Blood tells the story about a mother, Hester, and her five fatherless children, trying to find help to make her children's lives successful. Living in poverty and having the reputation as a "slut" on her, her children and her future begins to grow dim. Hester seizes the opportunity to receive help from her children's fathers, with hopes that one may help them. The play moves to other characters' stories (confessions) such as the doctor, welfare, and her friend, who is involved with Hester's struggling predicament.[3]

Plot Analysis[edit]

In The Blood consists of two acts and nine scenes, and is of a linear plot style. In the nineteenth century, well-made plays followed the formulas of Freytag's pyramid, which, according to David Rush, consists of seven parts for the plot structure.[4] The plot features the following:

State of Equilibrium- Hester needs help raising her five bastard children, while in poverty.

Inciting Incident- Amiga Gringa advises her to seek help from her children's fathers.

Point of Attack of the Major Dramatic Question- Will Hester find help for her children?

Rising Action- Hester finds that Reverend D. and Chilli, two fathers, may help her.

Climax- Reverend D., her last hope, rejected her and called her a "slut."

Resolution- Out of anger, Hester kills her oldest son for calling her a "slut."

New State of Equilibrium- Hester is in jail, and can no longer help her children.

Characters Guide[edit]

Hester's Family[edit]

Hester, La Negrita- The main protagonist of the play, and mother of five bastard children. She struggles to find help from anyone for her children in poverty. Hester was involved with other characters that owe her money. She is shown as a person who is willing to give herself to others when they are in need, but, in return, she only receives pocket dollar bills. She attempts to work hard and make small profit, but becomes more influenced by her friend, Amiga Gringa. Though she tries her best to help her children, she winds up killing her son, and ends up in jail.

Jabber- Hester's oldest son. He is thirteen years-old and is considered slow by his mother, although knows how to read and write better than she. He still has bed-wetting problems. Jabber is Chilli's son, and could be considered Hester's favorite.[5] He is later killed for talking to his mother about the word "slut."

Bully- Hester's oldest daughter. She is twelve years-old and considers herself a "good" person. Bully has more masculine characteristics, and in one scene, she compares the hairs of her private area with her brothers.

Trouble- Hester's middle son. He is ten years-old and has a mischievous nature. He said that he found a police club on the street, but was chased by the police for it. Hester holds onto the club and uses it later against Jabber.

Beauty- Hester's youngest daughter. She is seven years old and considered a snitch from her mother and Trouble. She ran away when Hester was beating Jabber to death.

Baby- Hester's youngest son. He is two years-old and the son of Reverend D.

Character Analysis[edit]

Most of the characters in the play are in poverty and all affected by Hester's past. Five of the characters give insight, called confessions, of what was their previous sexual experience with Hester, and Hester presents her own thoughts near the end. The Doctor's confession is how Hester gave herself to help him out of despair of being alone. The Welfare lady's confession is her first threesome experience thanks to Hester's assistance. Amiga Gringa's confession is what sexual experience Hester and she had to make money together. Reverend D's confession is how Hester's predicament turned him toward God. Finally, Hester's confession is about men's quick love and that she should have thousands of bad children.[6]

Genre[edit]

The genre of In The Blood fits with classic tragedy, similar to Greek tragedy, unlike many of Suzan-Lori Parks' works that are usually drama.[7] The play borrows elements from other classic genres, but not entirely of them. The characters are portrayed as either below or equal to us, as Hester plays the role of the tragic hero. She has the "tragic spirit", or hamartia, when she feels responsible for the troubles she has caused and can't help it.[8]

Style[edit]

The style of the play is based on realism. Elements such as the linear plot, immediate surroundings, character driven story, and the objective point-of-view from the author connects to the element of realism.[9] Overall, the play has a representational form. The audience is not involved with the story, but to interpret what they are seeing.[10]

Language[edit]

The use of language in the play has different denotations and connotations for most characters.[11] Characters who are poorly educated, like Hester, Jabber, and Amiga Gringa use less complex words and syntax. The more educated characters like the Doctor and Reverend D. use a more formal language.

Theme/Ideas[edit]

The central theme of the play is about society's oppression of the people in poverty and adulterers. Most of the characters who Hester's confides to, will either take advantage of her or have already done so.[12] Characters like the Doctor, Reverend, and Welfare already have homes and families, but don't put much effort into helping Hester and her children out of poverty. The meaning behind the title "In The Blood", is that Hester's own state of mind on how the adulterer, poor, and reckless person is in her blood.[13] The idea of the hand of fate is symbolized by the eclipse, giving some implications that Hester's fate is inescapable and will live with the label she has in her blood.[14]

Spectacle[edit]

The production of the play is very limited and sparse. The playwright had noted that the setting needed to reflect the poverty of the world.[15] Characters of the play interact very little with the scenery, but is shown to give the audience some sense of where this is happening. The audience is grabbed by the opening scene with the word "slut" written on the wall.[16]

Music[edit]

The only song in the play appears in scene 7, called "The Looking Song." The music and lyrics were written by Suzan-Lori Parks.[17]

Sample Production History[edit]

World Premiere Production- In The Blood had first premiered at The Joseph Papp Public Theater in New York on November 1999. It was directed by David Esbjornson.[18]

Edison Theater- In The Blood was also shown in Edison Theater in Los Angeles on July 18, 2003. The play was directed by Laura Marchant.[19]

Schaeberle Studio Theatre - In the Fall of 2004 PACE University, located in lower Manhattan, produced a well received production of show. The week-long run was sold out.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Suzan-Lori Parks Interview." 10 Oct. 2007. Academy of Achievement. http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/par1int-6
  2. ^ Steven Barclay Agency. 2008. Petaluma, California. 26 Feb. 2009. http://www.barclayagency.com/parks.html
  3. ^ Parks, Suzan-Lori. Dramatists Play Service, INC: New York. 2000.
  4. ^ Rush, David. "A Student Guide to Play Analysis." Southern Illinois Printing Press, 2005. Carbondale, Illinois. p. 39
  5. ^ Parks, Suzan-Lori. Dramatists Play Service, INC: New York. 2000.
  6. ^ Parks, Suzan-Lori. Dramatists Play Service, INC: New York. 2000.
  7. ^ Schafer, Carol. "Suzan-Lori Parks's Venus, In the Blood, and Fucking A." Comparative Drama. Vol. 42, No.2, Summer 2008.
  8. ^ Rush, David. "A Student Guide to Play Analysis." Southern Illinois Printing Press, 2005. Carbondale, Illinois. p. 107
  9. ^ Rush, David. "A Student Guide to Play Analysis." Southern Illinois Printing Press, 2005. Carbondale, Illinois. p. 191-203
  10. ^ Rush, David. "A Student Guide to Play Analysis." Southern Illinois Printing Press, 2005. Carbondale, Illinois. p. 202
  11. ^ Rush, David. "A Student Guide to Play Analysis." Southern Illinois Printing Press, 2005. Carbondale, Illinois. p. 79-82
  12. ^ Guida, Wenda. "In The Blood." 19 Dec. 1999. Talkin' Broadway Off Broadway. http://www.talkinbroadway.com/ob/12_12_99.html
  13. ^ Jefferson, Margo. "NY TIMES THEATER REVIEW; 'The Scarlet Letter,' Alive And Bitter in the Inner City." 23 November 1999. http://www.charlaynewoodard.com/reviews/blood.html
  14. ^ Schafer, Carol. "Suzan-Lori Parks's Venus, In the Blood, and Fucking A." Comparative Drama. Vol. 42, No.2, Summer 2008.
  15. ^ Parks, Suzan-Lori. Dramatists Play Service, INC: New York. 2000.
  16. ^ Hirshhorn, Joel. "In The Blood." 3 Aug. 2003. Variety. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117921461.html?categoryid=33&cs=1
  17. ^ Parks, Suzan-Lori. Dramatists Play Service, INC: New York. 2000.
  18. ^ Parks, Suzan-Lori. Dramatists Play Service, INC: New York. 2000.
  19. ^ Hirshhorn, Joel. "In The Blood." 3 Aug. 2003. Variety. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117921461.html?categoryid=33&cs=1