Paul Outlaw
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NOW Festival 2019: BBC (Big Black Cockroach)

BBC (Big Black Cockroach)

Premiere (“12″ single edit”):
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater), Los Angeles, CA
August 1, 2019

Conceived, written and performed by Paul Outlaw

Directed by Sara Lyons

Lighting design by Chu-hsuan Chang

Sound design by Jonathan Snipes

Addition fight direction by Edgar Landa

Produced by OutlawPlay and REDCAT as part of the 16th annual NOW (New Original Works) Festival

The creation of this project was supported, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA) Emergency Grant
 
 

“One morning, Gregor Samsa awoke from unsettling dreams to find that he had been transformed into a monstrous vermin.” —First sentence of Franz Kafka’s Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis), 1915

“Strolling in a verdant grove, Tiresias saw two serpents coupling. When he smacked them with a stick, they separated and slithered away. At that moment he was transformed from a man into a woman for the next seven years.” —From Book 3 of Ovid’s Metamorphōseōn librī (Books of Transformation), 8 AD

“Just as a transgender person might be born male but identify as female, I wasn’t pretending to be something I wasn’t but expressing something I already was. I wasn’t passing as Black; I was Black, and there was no going back.” —From Rachel Dolezal’s In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World, 2017

Writer-performer Paul Outlaw explores themes of American bigotry, white fragility, black virility and gender confusion in this one-person performance inspired by current events and the classic tales of transformation by Kafka and Ovid. The audience is introduced to Greta, a white, conservative American woman who awakens to find she has been transformed into what she considers “a monstrous vermin”— an African-American man. BBC (Big Black Cockroach) invokes the language of xenophobia, racism, misogyny and sexual violence, veering between an almost slapstick comedy and nightmarish horror.

Outlaw has worked closely on the development of this new work with director Sara Lyons, with whom he recently collaborated on their Kathy Acker-McKenzie Wark project I’m Very Into You. Outlaw’s muscular performance, guided by Lyons’ cogent, elegant direction, is enhanced by the nuanced interplay of Chu-hsuan Chang’s stark, angular lighting design and Jonathan Snipes’ multi-layered, haunting sound design.

VIDEO COMING SOON

“This challenging work impacted me the most of all the works in the [New Original Works] festival this year. Paul Outlaw’s boldness blew me away as he inhabited the character of a white, wealthy, conservative woman who wakes up to find herself trapped in a black man’s body … We see Outlaw’s character move through the transformation of a woman who orgasms from the pleasure of the power she holds to a fearful and confused woman trapped in a man’s body, rich with the ‘stench of blackness’ …The power of BBC’s exploration of xenophobia, black virility, and gender confusion left me speechless and stunned.”
- Bianca Collins, Artillery Magazine full review

“Paul Outlaw is a powerful actor and performer who has written a gut-wrenching one-man drama that was as raw to watch as it is to listen to Billie Holiday sing ‘Strange Fruit.’ Beautifully directed by Sara Lyons and enhanced by the severely stark and aggressive lighting by Chu-hsuan Chang, Outlaw confronts and exposes both white and black stereotypes, fears of ‘the other’ and common racist statements made by people who think of themselves as non-racist or bigoted…The subjects Outlaw investigates are sadly not new, but very old and past the time this country to have an open discussion about, but it is the way Outlaw presents these subjects, the directness of his theatrical tools, and, again, the rawness and undecorated honesty with which he turns the mirror around for us to see ourselves. I hope that Outlaw continues to perform this work and that I am there to see it mature even further.”
- Jeff Slayton, LA Dance Chronicle

“Paul Outlaw’s BBC (Big Black Cockroach) was the best use of space of the evening. The use of light set each new scene and the writing was superb. The power of this work is a see-for-yourself kind of experience. Paul Outlaw will challenge you and leave you stunned.”
- Amber Adams, Broadway World - Los Angeles

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS (to view NSFW images, be sure “SafeSearch” is off after logging in to flickr)