‘In the Blood’ is the modern day scarlet letter

Cody Luk
Staff Writer

The word “SLUT” is written boldly across a wall of a trash-filled stage as students, faculty and community members rushed into the Pomona College Seaver Theatre for “In the Blood,” a tragedy on contemporary social issues.

“The play is very intense, and it has a strong storyline they’re trying to portray,” said Arianna Lee, freshman Pomona College science major and Seaver Theatre usher. “I love plays, the arts are definitely a necessity. Art has definitely been a big part of my life, so I definitely love performances.”

“In the Blood” is written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and directed by Kenshaka Ali. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” is the inspiration for the play, and it comes to a full circle as the scarlet letter “A,” written in blood, appears at the final scene, the most prominent allusion to the novel.

The play is set in present-day Chicago and revolves around social issues such as survival, compassion and redemption. The main character Hester, La Negrita is an allusion to Hester Prynne. The former is illiterate and the only letter she can write is “A.” She struggles to make ends meet while living under a bridge with her five children.

The society does not accept the family and is not compassionate, as portrayed from a line by a character named Welfare “the world isn’t here to help us, the world is just here.”

Reverend D. (an allusion to Hawthorne’s Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale) is the father of one of Hester, La Negrita’s children, and he was a hypocrite who lectured on religious beliefs and good morals while he neglected his own child. Reverend D. is similar to Dimmesdale since he was also a theologian who would not admit to be the father of Hester Prynne’s child.

Hester, La Negrita’s first lover, Chilli, is the father of her oldest son, Jabber. Chilli is an allusion to Roger Chillingworth and they are both selfish characters. Chillingworth was Hester’s husband while Chilli almost married Hester and bought her a ring and a wedding dress. He changed his mind, however, when he discovered her four other children and he took off her dress in front of them.

All the actors aside from the chorus members and Claremont McKenna College theatre senior Tori Gaines, who played Hester, acted in dual roles.

“I’m really interested in theater in general and exploding issues of race and social economic class and the fact that they mix it in theater with combined elements,” said Maddy Klein, junior Scripps College psychology major and play attendee. “It’s really powerful and the main actress (Gaines) captures the character really well.”

Many people came in groups for “In the Blood,” such as Clara Mathis, a West Covina resident who attended the play with her church group from St. Stephen Baptist Church in La Puente.

“I love to go to plays,” Mathis said. “We’ve gone before (to other plays) and we get together as a group for different outings a lot.”

Cody Luk can be reached at cody.luk@laverne.edu.

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