August Wilson's Four Bs: AMIRI BARAKA

Acting Apprentice Adriana Bordea gives us some more insight into August Wilson's Four Bs, this time looking at the work of writer Amiri Baraka.

ADRIANA: Recently, I have been stuck in major artist's block mode....artists, you know what I'm getting at. Whether you're a writer, actor, musician, painter, dancer, or even a HUMAN above all else, it always seems to creep up at the worst time. But that actually might be the beauty of it, in a weird, cruel kind of way. Can we get past it when our brain is saying "no" but our gut is saying "just do it?" (Ignore the Nike reference!) It gets me thinking, how do the greats, like August Wilson, arguably the most influential African-American playwright of our time, get past it? Simple, the equation he had was the 4 Bs: Blues + Baraka + Bearden + Borges = Absolute Greatness!!!! It's truly as simple as that. 

Wilson chose to get past these blocks by finding inspiration through other outlets which resulted in depth, love, and above all a sense of himself in every piece he wrote. He especially found personal connection to other African-American writers including Amiri Baraka. Baraka was a writer of plays, essays, music reviews, but was best known for his poetry which was both applauded and condemned by the public for its political content. With the Civil Rights Movement occurring, Baraka knew that he could use his writing as a way fight racism in the country by expressing the anger the African-American community was feeling. He once explained that "ideas come from social life, so as your social life changes so does your art." He wanted literature that was something deeper and more real to himself, instead of something printed that portrayed "all" Americans' daily encounters. What Wilson found most in common with Baraka was that they both were adamant about not following Western influences in the way they wrote, but provided a voice for the African-American community. Wilson explains that from "Amiri Baraka, I learned that all art is political, although I don't write political plays." Even though their writing styles may differ, individuals always seem to be connected to one another through the expression of art.

Are you in need of some sweet inspiration that includes dance, music, theatre, and some love? Then come to the little church here at Portland Playhouse and see THE PIANO LESSON directed by Kevin Jones, which includes all of those, of course! The show has been extended all the way to November 16! Can't wait to see y'all there!!!! :) Click here for tickets.

“Art is whatever makes you proud to be human.” -Amiri Baraka 

The Roots‘ fifth studio LP in 2002, Baraka performed “Something In The Way Of Things” (In Town) on their Phrenology LP.