Award-winning lyricist and poet Corneilius Eady will have a playwrighting award to add to collection. He is the recipient of the 2002 Oppenheimer Award for most impressive New York debut for his play Brutal Imagination.
The Oppy, named for playwright and critic George Oppenheimer, is given annually by Newsday to playwrights producing their first play in New York City. Although Eady's musicals Running Man and You Don't Miss Water have played in the city, Brutal Imagination, which premiered at the Vineyard Theatre in the winter of 2002, is the first play he has written.
Based on Eady's book of poetry, a 2001 National Book finalist, Brutal Imagination imagines nine days worth of confrontation between baby killer Susan Smith and the black stranger she creates in order shift the blame for the deaths of her children. Two-time Obie winner Diedre Murray provided a jazz score, as she did with Running Man and You Don't Miss Water.
In Eady's conception, the fabricated black man is called Mr. Zero and lives within Smith's skin, taking on characteristics generated by her deeply felt, life-long prejudices against African-Americans as well as her instincts as a mother. The play traces Smith's shedding of the figment kipnapper she has created as she lurches toward her confession.
Tony nominee Joe Morton and Carousel star Sally Murphy brought the imaginary African-American and Smith to life. Brutal Imagination played Dec. 19, 2001 to Feb. 3, 2002 at the Vineyard. — By Christine Ehren