'Alemu' is a very complicated character. He is carrying with him quite a lot of baggage from his youth growing up in Africa (the continent, not the country!). He however, needs to exorcise these demons while also navigating the social norms that we take for granted here in America.
Are there any connections that you see between you and your character?
Yes. I see a lot of connections between myself and my character. I too grew up in Africa, Zimbabwe to be precise, but the struggles of an immigrant knows no borders. From navigating being in a foreign country (where people drive on the wrong side of the road or the toilet water spins in the opposite direction), to language and cultural barriers, to simple social norms like knowing what might be everyday practice between immigrants, might be completely unheard of by someone who has never left the country - the list is endless. I am also deeply touched by the AIDS pandemic that has swept across the continent and agree and empathize with my character about the stigma that many here in the U.S. incorrectly assume the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa is primarily because of promiscuity. I also feel for the character, because so many times I have found opportunities to make positive contributions to "the people in my heart" (back home), but so often, my help has been through a proxy.
What do you like most about this play? Do you have a favorite line?
I like the fact that the play unashamedly addresses some really big societal topics, like AIDS, adoption, homosexuality, friendship, multi-cultural issues and issues of race (or maybe I should say, issues of heritage/culture - because there is only ONE race ... the human race). Also, I like the way Annie grapples with the decision to adopt - it's realistic, because we all struggle with big decisions and question whether we are really doing the right thing and look to the affirmation of friends and the advice of strangers to help us along the way.
My favorite line is "Yes. Yes. You must pick up the poop" ... in the context of the scene, it's just funny and awkward and fits perfectly with the odd character that I play.
How would you describe the play to our audience?
The play is about a White American couple that plans to adopt a child and when their initial plan fails, they decide to adopt a child from Africa. They have a a lot of hangups about whether they are doing the right thing, if they will be good parents, and how they will function as a "cross-cultural" family and it takes the intervention of their peculiar neighbor to convince them (in his own special way) that they are doing the right thing.
What would you like them to leave thinking or talking about?
There is so much to take away from this play. Despite the serious nature of the subject matter, it is also a comedy. So while I hope people walk away with the following thoughts, I also hope that they can get some good belly laughs in there as well.
- The challenges of conception and adoption
- Social consciousness
- The role of Cultural Identity
- African American culture
- African culture
- White culture
- American culture