Keith Wallace is a third year M.F.A. actor at UC San Diego. He recently wrote and is performing in a play that is being produced by the La Jolla Playhouse in their International With Out Walls (WoW) Festival. THE BITTER GAME which explores the subtle and often unrecognized effects of racism, the question of police agency, and the value of Black lives in this country. This solo, one-act play, ripe with pain, poetry and laughter, examines the relationship between a young man and his mother as each struggles to protect one another from that which seems inevitable.
The Playbill Collector (TPC): What was your first experience in theater?
Keith Wallace (KW): At eight years old my mom brought me to a theater in downtown Philadelphia. Once the show began, I didn’t understand why everyone around me had made an unspoken agreement to be quiet and watch these people on stage. I was confused, astounded and amazed. For weeks after that I remember begging my mom to bring me back.
TPC: What inspired you to create this piece?
KW: We are living in a very racially charged time in America. Some people have called it the new Civil Rights Era. I grew up in the inner city of Philadelphia. Even though I have traveled, studied abroad, graduated college and had many great achievements none of those things matter because, I can still be racially profiled due to the color of my skin. I’ve been working with UCSD playwrighting faculty member Deborah Stein to create the piece.
TPC: What did you want to get across with this piece?
KW: I want to use this an opportunity to open up the psychology of a person of color living in this country; exposing that perspective to someone who might not have to view the world in the same way that I do. I hope it starts important and courageous conversation around this issue.
TPC: What do you hope for people to see at the show?
KW:They should expect to have fun. There is joy juxtaposed with pain. People will think, laugh, question and learn. I hope people don’t cry but instead, be moved to action.
TPC: What do see happening with this, post-festival?
KW: People have been interested so it may workshop further. My hope is that it’s a piece of work that can be performed by myself or others so that the message continues to be spread.
More information on the show details here: https://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/wowfestival2015/productions/bitter-game