Style on Stage LA

Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm's Eye-Opening Play

by Rasi A on Aug 28, 2023

Unearthing Real Issues

"Br'er Cotton," a brilliant play by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm, showcases a teenager's deep-rooted anger over racial tensions. Set in Lynchburg, Virginia, it captures the struggles of a young boy, who feels a strong connection to the unfortunate black men who've lost their lives. Simultaneously, his family's home seems to be sinking into a cotton field, a powerful representation of the emotional turmoil the characters experience.

A Personal Touch

Chisholm's connection to the story is heartfelt. He and Michael Brown, a young black man tragically killed in 2014, shared the same high school, though not simultaneously. Brown's death stirred something deep within Chisholm, fueling him to channel his anguish into writing. This St. Louis native, celebrated by American Theatre Magazine, skillfully blends his personal experiences with pressing societal issues in "Br'er Cotton."

Generational Perspectives

Three members of a family, from different generations, view the world's racial tensions uniquely in the play. The grandfather, mother, and teenage boy each carry distinct opinions based on their age and experiences. Such diverse perspectives highlight the varying ways people cope with racial injustice. While a tiered dress might have different layers, like the play, each layer or perspective is essential for the overall structure and understanding.

An Insightful Interview

When asked about the play, Chisholm shared intriguing behind-the-scenes details. The inception of "Br'er Cotton" was intriguingly based on a 'bake-off' where Chisholm drew two elements, a kitchen sink, and the Tower of Babel, both of which found their way into the story. He also emphasized the importance of awareness, stating how being a black man in America requires one to constantly be alert and understanding of the societal dynamics.

Chisholm's Creative Process

As a writer, Chisholm's process is a blend of introspection and spontaneity. He carries a small book, jotting down snippets of conversations, slowly piecing them together like a puzzle. His time at Juilliard has taught him the art of producing quality content even under tight deadlines. Much like crafting the perfect attire, where every stitch matters, Chisholm's writing ensures each word has a place and purpose.