Fabulation—Letter from Ari Roth, Founding Artistic Director
Welcome to Mosaic’s Season 5, a “Season of Awakenings,” where we’re about to experience a series of eye-opening revelations; of characters waking up to their own blind-spots, venturing forth on unexpected journeys that land each in brave new places. It’s quite an amazing season we have in store, and an amazing journey we’ve been on as a theater company since Mosaic’s founding in December of 2014, and our first production on this very beautiful Lang Theatre stage 10 months later. We’ve been waking up too, at each stage along the path, to a series of discoveries we didn’t know about the world, about ourselves, about what it means to be alive in this transforming city, making and sharing art—and life experience as well—here on H Street in Northeast DC.
Our art holds up a mirror to the world and our immediate surroundings. It also holds up a more magical mirror to our own inner psyches, as well as to the past, rendering it afresh. As a theater, we’ve come to experience more and more renderings of what it means to be black in America, as our audience becomes more diverse and as our community grows deeper in what we learn about each other. In preparing for Lynn Nottage’s fascinating Fabulation Or, The Re-Education of Undine, we learn from our brilliant braintrust at the center of this production, director Eric Ruffin and dramaturg, Faedra Chatard Carpenter, that the secondary title Lynn Nottage has given her tale is a contemporary recasting of Carter G. Woodson’s 1933 “The Mis-Education of a Negro.” In her brilliant dramaturgical material (portions of which are available on our website), Faedra references scholars and educators who walk us through Woodson’s seminal text, chapter by chapter, to show the astonishing parallels between Woodson’s blistering presentation of how America has taught African-Americans so poorly—both by not extolling the cultural richness of Africa, and in failing to acknowledge and celebrate black brilliance with respect to African American history— offering a critique of the systematic and institutionalized racism that promotes inter and intra racial bias. Lynn Nottage somehow incorporates and acknowledges all of this “mis-education” in walking Undine, and by extension, the audience, back to a wellspring of sustaining spirit. Meanwhile director Eric Ruffin beautifully orchestrates the rhythms, movements, and meaning of Undine’s journey homeward, framing the odyssey of Fabulation as a collective birthing—or re-birthing—of a soul once lost, now found.
To be a part of such a soulful journey as a theater company is thrilling for us, converging from different backgrounds as we do here at Mosaic, ignorant as we’ve been of so much of each other’s respective histories. Our playwrights and their interpreters are forcing upon us an experiential reckoning about the towering cultural contributions and great lives that have come before us, and we now share that learning in a room together and draw closer.
Increasingly at Mosaic, I hear audience members thanking me for bringing forth some new aspect of our multi-stranded history. In forging these stages of awakening, we are rewriting our culture to become more inclusive, more aware of the horrors and hopes that are interlaced into our nation.
Mosaic couldn’t be prouder of the learning-journey we’ve been on. Join us as we continue down the road, in struggle and community, together. Best way to do that? Subscribe, Save, and Connect! Happy new season!
Ari Roth, Founding Artistic Director