Pia Wilson (b.1971) is a Brooklyn-based artist born in Newark, NJ. She weaves threads of social justice into the fabric of her plays and believes that there is room in the middle of great storytelling and entertainment for talking about global issues like racism, war, violence against women, and poverty.

Her work has been produced at Horse Trade Theater Group, The Fire This Time Play Festival, Adelphi University and Workspace Collective. Her awards and residencies include NJPAC Stage Exchange commissioned playwright (2017); Sundance fellow (2015); and LMCC’s Sarah Verdone Writing Award (2014).

 

Featured Image Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Artist

 

Excerpt from Black Bee (Act 1, Scene 1)

LEE, in a tuxedo, is playing the first movement of Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata on his violin, an unseen piano harmonizing with him.

Three people — each holding a mask in front of their face — surround him, standing slightly behind him.

The sounds of dinner in a restaurant clink underneath Lee’s performance. He keeps playing.

The masks have drawings on them of stereotypically Caucasian faces.

MASKED PERSON 1
I know people still live there and all, but they really should just tear those buildings down.

LEE

The projects, you mean?

MASKED PERSON 2 What kind of nickname is that anyway?

LEE
They are government projects as in projects started by the government.

MASKED PERSON 3
Well, they may as well officially deem those “projects” failures and tear them down. The

unfortunate people of color who have to live there. It’s just … barbaric. LEE

Have you ever been?
And risk my life? God no!
Don’t pretend you’ve been either, Lee!

MASKED PERSON 1 MASKED PERSON 2

MASKED PERSON 3
Yes, Lee, you’re exactly like us. What do you know about living in the government

projects?

LEE

(hesitant)
Well, uh, I was raised there. Lee continues to play. The sounds of dinner fade. The three

others flip their masks to show stereotypically Black faces. MASKED PERSON 3

Negro, please!

MASKED PERSON 2
Yeah, man, Lee, damn, c’mon. You was out of the projects in, like, a hot second.

LEE I wouldn’t call 15 years a hot second.

MASKED PERSON 1
Nigga, you wasn’t even conscious for like 5 years of that, learning to talk and shit.

MASKED PERSON 3

Don’t use that word.

MASKED PERSON 1 Why, nigga, why? What you gonna do?

MASKED PERSON 2

(to Masked Person 1)
Damn, fool, how long it take your dumb ass to learn how to talk?

MASKED PERSON 3 (to Masked Person 2)

He’s still learning!
(to Lee)

What about you?

LEE
I’ve been conscious of who I am since before I could speak, which was at nine months, by

the way. I could read by the time I was two.

2.

So saditty.

MASKED PERSON 3

LEE How is it saditty to learn how to read?

Lee continues to play. The sounds of dinner rise again. The three others cover their faces with new masks with faces that have no racial identifiers.

MASKED PERSON 3
That falls precisely into the precocious category, Lee -right where I’d expect you to be.

Bravo!

MASKED PERSON 1
Were you good at math as well? They say music and mathematics go hand in hand.

LEE
If that’s your slick way of getting me to figure out the check, you’re barking up the wrong

tree.

MASKED PERSON 1

(self-concious laughter) Uh oh, you caught me!

MASKED PERSON 2 You play so beautifully, Lee. Your compositions —

LEE
MASKED PERSON 2 LEE

This is Beethoven.
Yes, but your work —
People don’t want to hear my compositions. They come to hear the classics.

MASKED PERSON 3
You underestimate your draw, Lee. I would give my I-teeth to have one-fifth of your talent.