After beginning performances November 2, Erika Dickerson-Despenza's cullud wattah officially opened at the Public Theater November 17. The play, which previously earned the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, is scheduled to run through December 5.
The Afro-surrealist play follows three generations of Black women living through the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. “As a playwright, I aspire to be a delicate sculptor of everyday horrors,” Dickerson-Despenza shared in an earlier statement. “I wrote cullud wattah to explore the politics of disgust, shame, and refusal by highlighting the rupture of government intervention at the intersection of capitalism and environmental racism. The play examines the impact of these horrors so routinely visited upon dispossessed peoples, namely Black women. I wrote this play specifically for Black women on the margins of the margins.”
Cullud wattah stars Crystal Dickinson as Marion, Lizan Mitchell as Big Ma, Andrea Patterson as Ainee, Alicia Pilgrim as Plum, and Lauren F. Walker as Reesee, along with understudies Jennean Farmer, Ta’Neesha Murphy, and Chavez Ravine.
The production, directed by Candis C. Jones, features a set by Adam Rigg, costumes by Kara Harmon, lighting by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, sound design by Sinan Refik Zafar, hair and make-up design by Earon Chew Nealey, prop management by Corinne Golorgursky, original music by Justin Hicks, and movement direction by Adesola Osakalumi. Janelle Caso serves as the production stage manager.