Tarell Alvin McCraney


How did the idea for The Brothers Size come about?

The Brothers Size was created as a trio folk piece about the bonds of brotherhood. I wanted to tell a story that tested the boundaries of brothers and try the notions of what it meant to be a brother, blood or not.

As the playwright, what is your experience of seeing your play being performed?
Watching this play is particularly hard for me. It is full of emotion that is personal, but I can also see where the craft is and what I was trying to accomplish. Depending on the night, I can see if it’s succeeding or not and that is terrifying.

How do you think the play will translate to an Australian audience?
I’ve never been to Australia, so I don’t know what the audience is like, but I also know that this story has something for everyone… we can all look at these men and say, yup, I have a sibling or a cousin or a parent just like that. I hope it continues to engage.

I read that the play is steeped in the Yoruba religion ‐ could you explain the significance of the Yoruba religion in the play?
You do not need to know much if anything about the Yoruba cosmology in order to understand or relate to The Brothers Size. Like all religions the Yoruba people sought to explain life through stories and acts of gods. The men in this play are named after those gods and have characteristics similar to the deity whose name they carry. But you can find these men in all cosmologies from Judeo Christian to Pre Orthodox Grecian. They have different names, Cain Abel, Ares Hephaestus, but they are similar or the same in many traits. I chose the Yoruba cosmology because in the south where I am from, Florida, those stories and rituals are actually a part of our everyday life but rarely do we recognize them as African. We know that in origin they are a West African retention introduced mostly to the new world via the slave trade but because nothing was written down and these religions had no books, they have survived in the New World for over 500 years by being handed down orally, sometimes smuggled in secret like, down through the generations. I figured if oppression and religious persecution could not break these stories, if illiteracy could not mar them, they were important to keep telling, not for what they tell us about the past, but how they inform our present and outline our future.

 

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