Nottage’s writing feels relevant without being obvious; there’s no mention of pandemic or protests, but they’re pulsing between the lines. “I worry that if I don’t think about my past, my memories, you know, give them voice, then I will forget,” the woman says, so emphatically you can’t not believe the truth in what she’s saying — and the stakes attached.
But it’s the piece that gives the series its title, Nikkole Salter’s “Here We Are,” that comes out of left field to claim its spot as the showstopper. The charismatic Russell G. Jones is like a Black, expletive-spitting Captain Kirk — had Kirk ditched the Enterprise, loosened up and got woke.
Appearing in the dark with a mask and headlamp, the character is in the recesses of space, determined to start human society fresh — minus all the b.s. that we got ourselves into the first time, including climate change, colonialism and racial inequality.
“Yo!” he shouts, demanding attention, pressing with questions and waiting for answers. (Salter’s script, and Woodward’s direction, allow more space for improv than the other pieces, where audience responses are invited but not forced.)
The Earth is far behind us; our explorer tells us we robbed her of her beauty. “Here it’ll be different,” he declares — loud, potty-mouthed and cynical, yet hopeful despite himself. When he sees our planet come into view from his spacecraft’s window, he marvels at the sight.
I marveled too, from my own seat on Earth, in Brooklyn, with my computer on my couch: This is what it looks like to find a whole world from behind a glass screen, and find it closer than ever.
Theater for One: Here We Are
Performances each Thursday evening through Oct. 29; theatreforone.com