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Imperceptible Mutabilities In The Third Kingdom

Baca Downtown

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks calls Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom “an African-American experience in the shadow of the photographic image.” In four scenes connected by a dreamlike logic rather than a developing narrative, characters struggle to find themselves in that shadow—the representations and definitions made by white folks. A white male scientist in the first scene, called “Snails,” studies three black women (Mona, Jonah, and Verona) through a camera planted in a cockroach. The roach sits in the living room; at two feet long, it’s too big to kill. They refer to it as their “infestation problem.” Of course, what’s really infested in this allegory are their identities. The women are almost “other” to themselves. “Once there was a woman named Mona,” says Mona, “who wondered what she’d talk like if no one was listening.” Would she say “ask” then? Or “ax”? Mona’s been

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