Issue 1 : Fall 2010

About Author:

  • Keli Garrett

    Who is Keli Garrett?

    Keli Garrett's plays have been produced and developed at Dixon Place in New York City, The Women's Project, the Zoo District in Los Angeles, Penumbra Theatre, The LAByrinth Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, 24...

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Uppa Creek

Uppa Creek, an Anachronistic Parody in the Minstrel Tradition. It was originally written as a commission on a Kara Walker piece, "A Means to an End...A Shadow Drama in Five Acts" by the RISD Museum in 1999. The play has subsequently been produced at Brown University's Rites and Reason Theatre, Zoo District in Los Angeles and Dixon Place in New York City. Through the New York Production the piece was considered for an 47th annual Obie Award in 2002. The piece is a full length play running just over fifty minutes.

 

Part I: “A change in hams-- I  mean hands !”

                                                ol’ Negress

 If the Massa should say jump-

                                                Massa

Jump!

                                                ol’ Negress

You say-

                                                Young Negress

                                                (jumping)

 How high?

                                                Massa

 Oh, I should say that the four inches or so you have covered will be  fine.....for now.

(enter Li’l Massa)

                                                li’l Massa

Mammy? I say Mammy? What you say about giving over them goods, huh? What ya say ‘bout satisfyin’ this awful canakerin’ I got down in my tummy? What ya say  you hand me over  one of dem teets of yourn?

                                                ol’ Negress

                                                (to Young Negress)

I ‘spect you heard of the old sayin’ “pass the buck”. Li'l Massa, how would you like a fresh piece- uh, I mean a new mammy to gnaw on?

                                                li’l Massa

Funny you should mention it, Mammy. I was just ‘markin’ to my mother-salt of the earth-ivory towered Ms. Anne with the patience of Ruth, always too busy at plottin' to catch house niggas in the act of stealing’ biscuits than to worry about the plight of her own flesh and blood- frigid cold- nonsexed-stuck on her pedestal, but a better woman than you will ever be-

                                                ol’ Negress

Uh huh.

                                                li’l Massa

Just ‘markin to her the other day that now that I’m gettin’ older on it won’t do for the Massa’s son to be botherin’ with some ol’ Negress with deflated bosom and thin milk.

                                                ol’ Negress

Tha’s right.

                                                li’l Massa

My father has fresh meat, why can’t I?

                                                ol’ Negress

Good question.

                                                li’l Massa

So mammy, who’d you  have in mind?

(ol’ Negress presents Young Negress)


                                                li’l Massa

                        (falling to his knees, embraces Young Negress’ breasts)

Speak not another word  woman  for you are happily replaced!

 

 

Lights.

Music.

Part II: “Bitch’s Brew”

 

                                                Young Negress

                                                (mixing over boiling cup)

The potion is almos’ right. A pinch a calamine with a dash of salt peter and we be all right. Gotta have this ready for the next --hmph-- feedin’. Gots to make sure all’s in perfect disray fo’ I stray  the hell on outta here (laughs)  My ship- well my taxi’s comin’ in soon. Tou-Tou- my revolutionary comrade and lover in arms, I’m spectin' yo’ fax later in dis day. Short and cryptic, he say. Better be. Last time he got through, faxed me a damn manifesto. I fax ‘em back, “Baby, short and cryptic is da direc’ opposite of long and specific! Stick wit da plan! A time and day in short code.” (places mixture in microwave and  punches start) Course it be simpler to feed it to him directly but I ‘spect I got the constitution to handle my own brew. And while they’re bawling over their dead boy, I’ll be burrowing away to freedom! Thank you Jesus!

 

 

                                                li’l Massa

                                     (calling offstage and entering on his knees ala Al Jolson)

Mammy!

 

 

(Young Negress ignores him and continues to add to her potion)

 

 

                                                li’l Massa

                                    (arms outstretched)

Mammy! Feed me Mammy!

 

 

                                                Young Negress

Be wicha in a moment Li’l Massa. Just gotta take my nourishment. Cain’t milk the cow unless the teet is full.

                                                li’l Massa

 I’ll milk ya Mammy!

 

 

                                                Young Negress

I know you will you little degeneratin’, lip smackin’......

                                                Ms. Anne/voice off

Girl! I say Girl!

 

 

(Enter Ms. Anne with li’l Annie. Li’l Annie mimics her mother in every gesture and move)

 

 

                                                Young Negress

Ma’am?

 

 

                                                Ms. Anne

What time is it? I say what time is it, girl?

 

 

                                                Young Negress

                                                (playing the dumb role)

Why missus, judgin’ by the set of the sun which is hotter than hell, by the way, and the (She licks the the tip of her forefinger and holds it up to the wind)  speed of the wind travellin’ at ....oh, I say ‘bout zero point one felosophy it must be around noon.

 

 

                                                Ms. Anne

You stupid girl! It is one on the o’clock. What does that tell you, hmn?

 

 

 

                                                Young Negress

Besides that it’s one o’clock?

 

 

                                                Ms. Anne

It should tell you that it’s tea time you duplicitous imp. Where is my tea-

 

 

                                                Young Negress

Well missus.....I

 

                                                Ms. Anne

How many times do we need to go over this, you incompetent chit. You are nothing like ol’ Mammy, that is for sure. You lack her obsequiousness, her lily spine, and her strong back for Work! Work! Work! No questions. No comments. When I say I want tea on the verandah at one, girl, I don’t mean one fifteen, one o five, or even one o one. I mean one sharp. Sharp! Sharp! Sharp! You got that! You striplinged dunce?

 

 

                                                Young Negress

 Yes’m.

 

 

                                                Ms. Anne

So where is it?

 

(the micrawave DINGS!)

 

                                                Young Negress

                                                 (a moments hesitation)

Right cheer.

 

                                                Ms. Anne

Well, it best be enough for two. Young Missy Anne is joinin’ her mother this afternoon like a real high on the horse shit don’t stink southern belle, prettier and better than you will ever be. Once she is safely wedded and  bedded to a future member of our fine southern stock she will gladly be a progenitor for the race by  bearing her husband at least two fine blond blue eyed blue blooded cause we say so brats who will grow up to continue the oppression of your little nappy headed comquats! You got that?

 

                                                Young Negress

Yes’m, I do. (Pouring potion into tea pot) So sorry I’m runnin’ behind this afternoon. I declare, I’ve made enough tea for two if not three. Nothin’ finer ‘ol’ massa say than acts of true gentility bred into the south's finest. (in Massa’s voice) “Why if women of the south drink tea out of the finest porcelain on the finest plantation porches why so too should our men folk- once in a while.  For nothin’ is a better sight  to see than southern white men and women confabulating in genteel manner and regal posture as to set an example to slovenly white trash and nigger alike that they can only aspire and never achieve our cherished status as God’s chosen people doomed to reign over them always”.

                                                Ms. Anne

Master really said that, you mimicking mince?

 

 

                                                Young Negress

Yes’m, he did. I oughta know. Why it was just after supper last night  in my quarters, just after I had snatched off his boots and shuck his pants-

 

 

                                                Ms. Anne

That’s enough you Jezebelled wench! It does sound perfectly sound to me. The first part, I mean. You say you have enough tea for three, huh? Well, three it shall be. Come along little John. Today you shall forego your afternoon feeding and sit on the goddamned verandah and drink liquid out of a cup for a change.

 

To Read the rest of the play, please click UPPA CREEK. This play cannot be reproduced or used without the permission of the author.

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