Chisa Hutchinson is having a busy spring. Houston’s Alley Theatre has just announced the world premiere of her play Amerikin; in California, South Coast Rep will debut Whitelisted as part of its annual Pacific Playwrights Festival; and New York will see Proof of Love, a brand-new solo work commissioned by Audible, begin performances at the Minetta Lane this month just as her play Surely Goodness and Mercy wrapped up performances with Off-Broadway’s Keen Company.
The world premiere, directed by Jade King Carroll, is the inaugural production to come out of Audible’s Emerging Playwrights fund. The new initiative gives playwrights the freedom to write whatever they want, as long as the piece works within the audio format.
“I challenged myself to write a fly-on-the-wall drama but with the one person who speaks,” says Hutchinson of Proof of Love, a monologue play that unfolds in real time. The only character is Constance Daley, a middle-aged woman who is as “close as you can get to being WASP while being black.”
When we meet Constance, played by Brenda Pressley (after recently starring in Surely Goodness and Mercy), she is questioning her entire life in the wake of a tragic accident. As the play unfolds, she is forced to face uncomfortable truths about her marriage and herself—specifically, that she may have judged her husband and his roots a little too harshly.
“I wanted to explore an intro-racial dynamic that doesn’t really get talked about so much in the black community. This idea of the ‘elite black,’ and then those of us who are more working class,” says Hutchinson. “The biggest question [I’m asking in this play is]: ‘What are we missing out on by drawing these lines within our community?’”
Like many of her plays, Proof of Love is an invitation for radical empathy. “I’m really looking for a way to make people who do not ordinarily care about people like me, care about people like me,” says Hutchinson. “I’m always looking for emotional shortcuts that will get people to look at working class black people—as well as other people of color and disenfranchised groups—to look at us and say, ‘That’s why you matter,’ or, ‘you’re just like me in that respect.’”