By Dione M. Davis
Award winning Canadian playwright and executive producer Trey Anthony brought together an amazing cast including Angie Stone, Melanie Fiona and Terri J. Vaughn for her stage play ‘da Kink in My Hair. The play orates the experiences the diverse characters have had in their journeys in life. Set in a Caribbean hair salon in Canada, the creator of balance is the character Novelette, a West Indian hair stylist who is the confidant to the all female cast and is the crux of the play.
Anthony, who wrote the play 13 years ago as a result of what she called a “necessity” was in transition from comedic roles and stand-up. She auditioned for more dynamic roles just to face several roadblocks. She found herself auditioning for parts as the baby mama and crack head and was even asked if she could “Ebonics it up a bit more.” “There needs to be a way that we can authentically see black women on stage,” said Anthony. Expressing that we are more than just the ‘Jezebel’, the ‘Strong Black Woman’ and the ‘Funny Black Woman,’ the 4 time NAACP Theatre award recipient created an avenue for black women’s voices to be heard.
We all know that the hair salon is a place where many black women come to not only look good and maintain their tresses, but to often times gossip or seek advice on personal matters. There’s something about black hair salons that offers an experience no matter which one you go to throughout the world. We walk in to get a new look, but we leave a piece of ourselves and take away insight. It’s a no brainer that the Anthony centered this play around extraordinary women in a salon, a place where revelations are made. The characters include Shannon (Melanie Fiona) who struggles with being seen for her brains and not her beauty, Sherelle (Terri J. Vaughn) who seems to have the ‘superwoman’ syndrome and has it all but is overwhelmed by loneliness and Nia (Angie Stone) who internalizes the fact that her mother preferred her sister with lighter skin.
Ming Lee’s Snob Life Studios in Castleberry Hill, an opulent hair salon hosted a press conference where the cast of ‘da Kink in My Hair shared dialogue on this important play and why everyone should go out and see it. Resembling For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf written by Ntosake Shange in 1977, ‘da Kink in My Hair has something every black woman will not only be able to relate to, but grow from.
The three faces of the play bring their voices and connection to each character to bring a healing and deeper understanding of who black women really are. “For me, acting is my ministry. It’s the way that I serve my community, it’s the way I serve mankind,” said actor Terri J. Vaughn. She stressed the power in the monologues and how rehearsals became very emotional.
Singer and member of TV show “R&B Divas” Angie Stone shared how impressed she was with Anthony’s vision. “Trey did an awesome job just being able to walk inside of each woman’s issue. I look at this play as being a parallel to me being a song writer.”
Singer Melanie Fiona and fellow Canadian had a unique connection to the play. She saw the play at the beginning of her career, so she was familiar with its power. When she got the call 10 years later it came full circle. Her character was tailored and demonstrates a deep illustration of her own tests in life. “I experienced my own challenges with people treating me a certain way based off of my appearance.”
The main character Novelette expressed that if you want to know a black woman, you touch her hair. During the press conference, I was able to ask the playwright about what the play will address in terms of that statement. This was her response:
I think with what we go through with our hair, you cannot gather any group of black women for longer than 10 minutes without a conversation happening about our hair on some level. I think if there is one thing I think that this play brings is it goes deeper than the hair. The hair is just a very symbolic token of all of the issues that happen underneath the hair. So, I always play with that. It’s about the kink in my hair. It’s about getting the kinks out, but also embracing the kink. I think every woman will come to this production. And I think that these guys were so eloquent in expressing that and see themselves in that. And it goes further than the good hair bad hair because I think we all know that discussion. It goes much deeper than that. It’s about who we are as women inside. I call it the unmasking of the black woman of who we are. [Because] I think all of us walk through the world of how we are publicly. But very few people get to see us privately. And I think this is what happens with the kink. We unmask the public persona to see who these women are privately and everything they go through and share. That’s what you’re going to be able to get from that. Who are we as black women when we believe nobody is watching or listening and seeing us.
‘da Kink in My Hair will run September 6-8 in Atlanta at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.