A Tragic Look at the Confederate South in 'Father Comes Home From the Wars'

Suzan-Lori Parks' play 'Father Comes Home From the Wars Parts 1, 2 and 3' is at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco (Joan Marcus/ACT)

My co-host A-lan Holt, Gabe Meline and I went to see Father Comes Home from The Wars (Parts 1, 2 and 3) by Suzan-Lori Parks (A-lan's favorite playwright) last week at the American Conservatory Theater. The play follows the adventures of a slave named Hero (and later, Ulysses), as he chooses whether to join the Confederate Army in the Civil War in return for a promise of freedom. The play mines themes from The Odyssey and the Mahābhārata, with fabulous language rich in both free-verse and modern slang.

As co-host Gabe Meline noted, this was a hell of a play to watch in a week when Kanye West was talking about slavery being a choice.

Parks is a very funny writer, but underlying the play is a sense of dread for the fate of slaves caught in a vicious system that offers only the illusion of choice. Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, and 3) continues at the American Conservatory Theater through May 20. Details here.

Also, the East Bay's nomadic Ubuntu Theater offers a chance to go deeper into the Suzan-Lori Parks canon, with her Pulitzer Prize winning Topdog/Underdog at 4040 4th Street in Berkeley. Details here.

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