'Death in the Family' is laid to rest
In Full Color produced its first full-length traditional play in NYC at Dixon Place this October with "Death in the Family" by Kendra Augustin.
“Death in the Family” is a series of five tragicomic vignettes about grief, trauma and hope we move on -- if we ever do. Actors B. Bastian, Duane Chivon Ferguson, Natasha Hakata and Alex Mooteelall each took on a wide range of roles to tell these families’ tales. From brothers struggling with the aftermath of their siblings’ fatal actions and sisters searching for hope to murderers looking for redemption, each character shined a light on one way we deal with loss.
Director Benjamin Ernest Abraham says each story in the show was made special by the dynamic of the duo it stars. “These actors have breathed life not only into themselves, but they have also energized the world by building relationships with one another,” he says. “It was amazing for everyone to see the sometimes barbed, sometimes warm, sometimes solemn, but always glorious tête-à-tête that these wonderful artists have.”
He also hoped that the show helped audience members discover something about themselves. “I’ve tried to let the world of the play be a space where we can think. Where we as audience members can really contemplate and grapple with our own experiences with bodily and physical death and how it reshapes our life...But of course, that meditation is not always a solitary and downbeat experience. It can be delightful and bright too! Sometimes it’s good to find a way to laugh at a funeral; it reminds us that we are human.”
The production was a culmination of over a year of work, with Kendra's work first being spotlighted during In Full Color's play development series The Nest. Through work with IFC founder/director Summer Dawn, who served as producer for the show, Kendra was able to craft this beautiful meditation on the different stages of grief.
Kendra, a Black woman playwright from Manhattan, is exactly the kind of voice In Full Color loves to amplify. The award-winning organization empowers women of color and other BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) of marginalized genders through education and the arts.
Augustin says that while the show is often intense, its effects on audiences are widely varied. “In general I hope people enjoy it and that it makes them feel all sorts of wonderful and terrible things,” she says. “I hope anyone who sees it leaves thinking about shame, guilt, and sadness and how it stunts, and I hope they consider opening up more to the people they care about.”
The playwright was thrilled to be showcased at Dixon Place, a venue she has long admired for their commitment to adventure and artistic achievement.
An artistic incubator since 1986, Dixon Place is a Bessie and Obie Award-winning non-profit institution committed to supporting the creative process by presenting original works of theatre, dance, music, puppetry, circus art and literature at all stages of development. This local haven inspires and encourages diverse artists of all stripes and callings to take risks, explore new ideas, and consummate new practices.
This Dixon Place production of “Death in the Family” was made possible, in part, with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts w/the support of the Office of the Governor & the NY State Legislature, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and the Shubert Foundation.
Dixon Place & In Full Color presented "Death in the Family" by Kendra Augustin on Oct. 28-30, 2021.