BLACKBOARD: Tell us a little but about yourself and why you write....JAMES: I was born in California, but grew up in Las Vegas, NV. I’ve lived a few places Wilberforce, Ohio where I went to school at Central State University and Washington, D.C. – I studied film at Howard University in a MFA Program, and I lived in LA before moving here to New York. I just started writing plays in the fall of 2010 when I started the Graduate Dramatic Writing Program at NYU. Before that my entire concentration as an artist was on filmmaking (writing and directing) but I really fell in love with playwriting and the intimacy of theater.
BLACKBOARD: Why did you write this play?JAMES: I was thinking about the commonality and differences of my grandparent’s and my parent’s generations. What each generation experienced and endured as Black people in America. I wanted to do a play that explored this and that is my original reason for writing the play, and then during the process of writing, the play just took on a life of its own.
BLACKBOARD: How did you find Blackboard?
JAMES: I found out about Blackboard from a friend and fellow NYU alumnus Franz Reynolds.
BLACKBOARD: What is important to you about a community of black writers?
JAMES: We’re halfway through 2012, and I have lost count of how many times I have been disgusted this year by the stereotypes and cultural misperceptions of African Americans in film, television and theater. In most of these productions that I’ve seen the actors are African American but the writers are not.
I think what is important about a community of black writers is an opportunity to explore our humanity, and in most cases I have found that when we are doing this exploring we are challenging these one dimensional ways that we continue to be depicted in most mainstream film, television and theater.
BLACKBOARD: How do you want people to feel after they have heard this play?
JAMES: Of course, I want people to feel as if they have had a satisfying theater experience, but I don’t really think about an exact way that a person should feel after they have heard the play. During the play, I want people to laugh at certain times and I try to have at least one moment (hopefully more than one) that will make the audience cry. In my opinion, when the audience laughs or cries that means they are most likely engaged with the play.
I always hope that the play has themes that people are able to converse about with each other once the play is over.
Some Old Black Man by James Anthony Tyler - Monday, August 13, 2012