Just days after the George Zimmerman verdict, the Truth N Trauma (TNT) Theatre Ensemble, comprised entirely of African American actors, performed the devised piece The Only Way Out Is the Way Through. Wearing a hoodie and holding a package of Skittles, the ensemble's only male actor delivered a monologue that spoke eloquently about the threats that young Black men face. By briefly embodying the figure of Trayvon Martin, this performance interrogated the perceived dangers of Black masculinity to reveal that the deadly violence levied against Black men is not an aberration, but rather is the norm. This article seeks to locate the death of Trayvon Martin historically, tracking similarities in the murders and trials of Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till. It then focuses on the monologue, interrogating its themes, its creation, and its effect in performance to discuss the multiple narratives surrounding Black masculinity that emerge through it, narratives which speak truth to the dominant discourse that normalizes the murder of Black boys. Finally, it demonstrates how theatre is an arena in which such divisive issues can be explored, deconstructed, and transformed into a vehicle for social change.
- Black masculinity
- theatre and social change
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)