Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement: Andrew Black

My work is based on my experiences as a recovering alcoholic and as a man who loves other men.

As a recovering alcoholic, I have come to believe that positive change is possible. I feel I understand some of what is involved in changing one’s life and moving in a new direction.

As a man who loves other men, I understand what it is like to be an outsider and to have to search for one’s identity. I also understand sexual appetite and variation.

These themes have reflected themselves in my work to date. My play, Bitten by a Boomslang, tells of a man who is searching for his “spot” (his place of peace). He believes that if he executes on a major philanthropic task (the creation of a clinic in a small African country), he will find it. He finds his “spot” at the play’s conclusion, though he does not find it in the place he expected it. The man is in a relationship with another man, and most of the characters are outsiders. In fact, all of the characters except the protagonist were born in countries other than the United States, which allows me to work with the issue of insiderness / outsiderness in a global setting, in addition to exploring the issue of a man who wants to find peace of mind.

My play Puppet Man is set in a prison in Northern Ohio. The protagonist, “Pretty Boy” DuPree, is a drug addict facing a 28-year sentence, having shot a policeman during a drug raid. The story essentially recounts his journey toward recovery, a journey triggered by his involvement in a puppet theater program led by a woman with a transgressive spirit and a PhD in Interpersonal Communications. Here I again explore a story of positive change. Many of my characters are, of course, outsiders, and their outsider status is reflected in the lifestyles which led to their incarceration in a medium-security prison.

What Same Sex Marriage Means to Me traces my journey as a man who loves other men, finding may way from through the “forsaken circumstances” in which I found myself at the time of my birth (1956) up until today, as a man who has been happily (and legally) married to another man since 2013. The journey I have taken parallels the journey of the United States during that same time, and I interweave historical, legal, cultural and personal events into a 75-minute one-person show.

A more recent addition to my “canon” is a play called How to Build an Ark. I was raised in an evangelical Christian family and have recently rediscovered the power of the Biblical stories I was told as a child. Ark ties the stories of six female Biblical characters (Esther, Rahab, Mary/Martha, Noah’s wife, others) to the struggle of a college woman as she seeks to determine how the faith of her youth can be relevant to her changing understanding of the world around her.

All these themes are reflected through the body of my work: Porn Yesterday (about a gay male porn star who is trying to get out of the porn business), Strange Bedfellows (about the first gay candidate for county-wide office in Orange Country and his struggle to be true to himself as he tries to craft a message for a mass audience), and It’s Murder, Mary! (about eight gay men who are invited under mysterious circumstances to a remote location and then are slowly murdered one by one—in comic fashion). These plays were co-written with my friend and collaborator, Patricia Milton.

Other plays I wrote on my own reflect these themes as well: The Second Weekend in September (about a single gay man who has a once-a-year affair with a married man and learns surprising lessons about intimacy) and Another Dude’s Slingbacks (about the role confusion that is created when the quarterback of a high school football team becomes gay overnight as the result of a classmate’s vengeful wish).

My personal journey informs the work I create. I am grateful to have the chance to use my voice and tell stories through the art of playwriting.