Nichole Thompson-Adams: Black Girl, You’ve Been Gentrified
Directed by Lorca Peress
Show Description"Some aspects of being a broker in a neighborhood that's changing makes me feel good - seeing the fruits of your labor, the positive change," she said. But, she added, "It makes me feel melancholy at the same time."
When Nichole Thompson-Adams and her husband moved to Fort Greene in 1994, she loved its magnificent brownstones and tree-lined blocks, things she would eventually praise in her job as a real estate broker at Corcoran's local office.
But she liked other things about the neighborhood as well, items unbefitting mention in a real estate listing. She liked the man who slept on the corner and always said, "Good morning, you're looking sharp today!" even when she felt she was not. She liked the ritualized banter with the guys at the bodega: "How's your mother? Your brother out of jail?" She wouldn't dream of asking for her coffee until a good few minutes of chatter had passed. One day, the man on the corner was gone. And people started coming into the bodega who didn't care to converse.
"Every time I saw something new happen in the neighborhood, I'd talk about it," said Ms. Thompson-Adams, 36, a vivacious fireball of a woman with knobby twists of hair. She often talked with her former neighbor, the playwright Michael Weller, who after hearing Ms. Thompson-Adams's stories, told her, "You've got to get this on paper."
The result was her one-woman show, "Black Girl You've Been Gentrified." The show depicts Ms. Thompson-Adams talking to her therapist about life as a broker, imitating characters from every corner of the real estate drama. It played at the 92nd Street Y twice in the spring. "My biggest surprise was the response from people who weren't like me but felt the same way," she said. "They understand. 'We like our big sycamore trees. We like the bum on the corner who keeps an eye on the cars. We don't want them to go away.' "
The show is as much about the changes in herself as about the changes in the neighborhood, Ms. Thompson-Adams said, asking: "When did I go from being a grassroots bohemian to a real estate-selling, Martha's Vineyard-vacationing black bourgeoisie? And is that such a bad thing?" Ms. Thompson-Adams has mixed feelings about her work and its gentrifying effects.
Lorca Peress (Director) is Co-President of the League of Professional Theatre Women, and Founder/Artistic Director of MultiStages, a multicultural, multidisciplinary company that develops new works.
Upcoming Premieres: Fengar Gael’s The Island of No Tomorrows, a Latina Feminist Fantasia (Nov. 2012, MultiStages), Temple Of The Souls, Anita Velez-Mitchell librettist, Dean Landon/Anika Paris composers (a Taíno/Puerto Rican musical drama, MultiStages in development).
Selected: Two premiere one-act Operas by Bruce Saylor (Goldstein Theatre, Queens College), Arden Kass’ Appetite (w/ Tovah Feldshuh, MultiStages), Fengar Gael’s Morpho-Genesis (w/ Kathryn Layng, LPTW Fest New World Stages), Anne Hamilton’s And Then I Went Inside (w/ Kathleen Chalfant), Earl Robinson‘s The Lonesome Train (w/ Ruby Dee, Sam Waterston, QC Symphony and Choir, Riverside Church), Lindsey Ferrentino’s Exile (Albee Fellow), Tanya Perez’ Honor and Fidelity (Cherry Lane), Three Penny Opera, Kiss Me Kate, Our Town, Talking With, All in the Timing (NYU Tisch/Strasberg), Soho Rep., La MaMa, PRTT, Urban Stages, NJ Repertory, Repertorio Español. Awards: two MCAFs (LMCC/DOCA), Dramatists Guild Fund, La MaMa Inky (Steinberg Charitable Trust). Faculty: NYU Tisch-Strasberg, hotINK Curator (2002-10). Studies: Bennington College (BA Drama), National Theatre Institute. SDC member.