Watch the Duck Watch the Duck
VIBE/ Stacy-Ann Ellis

Take Five: Watch The Duck Pauses Before Kicking Off The Party At SXSW

Watch The Duck takes five minutes out of their busy SXSW festival to chop it up about their wildest tour experiences, Waffle House loyalty and more.

For one week, South by Southwest music festival houses flocks of performers and concertgoers eager to take in the music scene large and small. Unfortunately, some people only get one or two nights to perform and take in as much as humanly possible. Trap-step musical trio Watch The Duck made sure to make the most of their two nights in Austin both on and off the stage.

Jesse Rankins, Eddie Smith II and Oscar White (the Duck) are in full tour (and turn-up) mode, having tossed cakes alongside the likes of Steve Aoki and made tunes with Pharrell. The party-starters stopped by VIBE's lounge at Bud Light Factory to chat about their southern dedication to late night Waffle House, wild twerkers on tour and who they want to watch from the sidelines at SXSW.

 

VIBE: I know you just landed yesterday, but tell me how your touring, festival life is going so far.
Eddie: Festival life is lovely man, because all the positive energy, all the love, it's been great. We got here from Ultra in Miami, and coming right into Austin for South-By has been amazing. I think South-By may be my favorite festival of all because of the diversity. Like the fact that I can go into one bar, hear rock music, and go right next door, hip hop show, and right next door from them, electronic show. It fits my ADD.

Have you found time for yourself with the hectic schedules? You feel overwhelmed? You need to take a moment to just recharge, so what do you do when you have that downtime?
E: I love it.
Jesse: Too much downtime for me drives me crazy!

Really?
J: I need something to do. As long as I can get a Sunday, like, every other. Preferably every Sunday, I can get a Sunday to myself, I'm good. You can have me for the rest of the week.

There's no burnout?
J: But burnout is like, your body naturally resets. You know what I mean? If you burn out, you're gonna shut down. You wake up, you're back to it. Too long of not having anything to do—and that's something with family, that's something that's gonna feed my soul—I need something that's gonna keep me busy. Keep the devil off.

Amen, amen.
E: I wanna go until I basically can't no more. Like all the time. I like the get-up-and-go energy, just like Jesse. Being here, the energy you get back from people. The people here are tired, and then you get to the next spot, and you walk out there and there's all those people that have been waiting for you to come to their city, and it's like, they wanna see a full show. They don't wanna hear about the dates before. You know what I mean? They paid for this one. Once you see that with your own eyes… Just yesterday, we saw people waiting in the rain. It was an hour delay for our show, and people stood under stuff and waited the full hour for us to play. So, we can see stuff like that, you can't, like, any little bit of tiredness in me is like "wow." You know what I mean? I'm just so amazed and so humbled by people coming up and telling us their story about how they heard about us and things like that, and why they're waiting in the rain. Because while we were waiting in the rain, we was talking to people. People [say], "We drove here just for this." I'm like aww, tired goes out the window. We told the people at the venue, whether it starts raining or not, we're gonna play for them. We gotta play tonight.

What's the craziest show or crowd story you've had prior to today?
J: Well, the craziest I ain't gonna tell y'all about! But, the one that we can talk about... I think one time a girl ran up on stage. The stage was low. So I pulled her up on stage and we were dancing together. She came with her boyfriend though, and he wasn't too amused by it. At first he thought it was funny, but then when I was tryna let her go, she didn't wanna leave, so she kept staying. He got really, really mad and came up on stage and got her. And then took her out of the show, and they left. But then after the show, they were waiting on us outside, 'cause at the time, we were on tour. He was waiting by our sprinter. He sent her home in an Uber, then smoked with us and apologized [with] weed. He apologized like, "Man, I'm sorry for acting like that, man, but you know..." We ended up respecting him because he told the truth. He was like, "Bruh, I was a little bit insecure. I felt like you coulda took my girl home, so I sent her home, because I really like my girl and I wanna keep her, but I wanna smoke some weed with y'all so y'all wouldn't think I'm a punk."

That is a pretty solid story.
J: I mean, you can't really...it was weird.

It was weird. Very weird.
J: But you know, I respected his honesty and he had good weed. [laughs]

What kind?
J: I don’t know. He grew it. He was a grower. Believe it or not, we were in Detroit, he was a grower.

I was gonna say, were you in Cali?
J: Nah, we stay in Cali, but I didn't even know they had growers in Michigan. Evidently, he grows in Michigan and it was really, really good.

Shout out to him. Eddie, was that your same story, or do you have your own?
E: That was a good one! I can't top that one. There is one random place too, it was like, Madison, Wisconsin, and I'mma tell you, these are the most athletic, dare devil girls in the world. We were on a stage that was pretty high up, but their ability to climb like Spider-Man in little dresses, and just literally just throw their heels off as if they don't care about them anymore was amazing! This one girl climbed up there—climbed, I'm emphasizing "climbed"—she climbed up there, and was twerking away, holding on to our equipment, started to fall, almost took our equipment with her. Jesse's trying to catch her from keeping from falling. And as she's falling, she's not grasping for her life. You know what she's doing? Twerking on the way down. And her friends are catching her, and hyping her up to keep twerking, though. I've never seen such, just fearlessness. I'm telling you, Madison, Wisconsin, man. You wouldn't know, but they don't play. She went down twerking, little dress, people got a good view, but it just did not seem to deter her. She made up her mind that she was twerking to that record, and nothing would stop her. Not even gravity.

Wow. Just wow. So who are you actually excited to see at South-By perform?
J: Well, we're here just for the night. We fly back out in the morning. But during the course of the shows that we're playing today, we get a chance to see a lot of people who I'm a pretty big fan of. All the Dim Mak guys like Aoki. Anderson .Paak. Rain Man. A lot of these guys we're just cool with. And we get to play with 'em today, so after our set, or before our set, we're just gonna sit down and watch 'em. Because I'm a fan. I'm one of those people who want to sit there and watch the show. It gets me crunk. I like to sit out there and watch everybody else rock. It's like watching another team play after you play. You know what I'm saying? I think it's like, the athletic part. Like, yeah, I see what you doing, I like how you did that. I like that. I'm gonna do that.

What about you, Eddie?
E: I'm excited about the Dim Mak party, it's the 20th anniversary. Twenty years of them as a label, and now, this is the year that actually we joined and we partnered up with them, so it's great to be a part of that. Steve Aoki is playing that with us and every time we play a show with Steve, it's insane. He's the number one party man I know. He goes in and it's like, that gives me energy! You know what I mean, and knowing he's coming and knowing he's playing that show is what's getting me through Saturday, so I'm really excited about that.

Is he the one that throws the cake?
E: Yes. With deadly accuracy! Like, if there's a cake throwing at the Olympics, that guys is like the [Usain] Bolt of it. He's going home with the gold. He can literally point into the audience and get it to go wherever he wants it to go. It's not easy, I've tried to throw a cake, and it's not as easy as it looks.

Separate from the plate?
E: It's the whole thing, and I don't know where he finds time to practice or where he rehearsed for that at. You know, I'mma ask him today though, because I'm very curious. How did you get that good? He's really good! So, I'm excited for that, I hope he throws some cakes today, he threw like four of 'em in Miami.

Is it just on hand? Like y'all got cakes just ready to go?
E: Yeah, it's just cakes. In all forms of the word, it's cakes everywhere. And the interesting thing is like, there was this one girl in Miami who had a sign that showed like four different places where she's been caked, and she was going for her fifth caking, and she got it. Deadly accuracy, deadly accuracy.

Get your cake on.
E: She wouldn't have got it with my crowd, but she enjoyed it.

Okay, last question, and most important one. I know you guys just got here, but what's the best food that you've had while down here in Austin?
J: Well, I know there's a lot of good food places here, but as Southern boys who get the chance to come back to the south, I gotta be honest, we went to Waffle House last night, and I was so happy. And I wanna clarify myself, and I know there are way better restaurants, so you understand... Waffle House has a special place in my heart.

Where are you originally from?
J: I'm from Alabama. Waffle House means the end of a great night or a tragic one. But it just means that it was like a reset, almost like going to church! So, last night, I got a chance to go to church, and I'm thoroughly happy. So sorry Austin, I know you got way better places than that, but they don't have Waffle House where I'm at, they don't have it anymore.

What about you, Eddie?
E: You know what? I'm a big fan of South-By every year, and there's this...I wish I could remember their name right now, but there's this random taco truck that's right across where the highway is. That first street that pretty much that begins South-By when you cross the highway on the other side of the bridge? It's tortas are so authentic, it feels like you in Mexico. And I go over there every year and eat about four or five tortas. So there's that, and at the beginning of 6th Street, there's this shaved ice.

At 6th and what?
E: Sixth and... right on the other side of that bridge where the freeway is. That shaved ice place? I know it's like ghetto sh*t, but that shaved ice place is so good, because you know, not everybody can do shaved ice. Sometimes, it's way too much ice and not enough syrup, so you're left with a big ass cup of ice! So, you gotta throw it away! But his syrup-to-ice ratio belongs in some type of, like, Guinness book. It's amazing, so I'mma go over there when I leave here, have about two of those. And it's tradition! Every year, there's ice. And we're flying outta Houston this year, we're actually gonna go back to Houston...yo...
J: I'm about to dive in that icee.
E: That icee is real. I gotta get that shaved ice. You're gonna pass it. Matter of fact, you're also gonna pass that torta stand.

Oh, the taco truck?
E: Yeah, on the way to Fader Fort. That's how I discovered it one night. That torta, I tell you...and I've been to Mexico City, and it's on par. And then when we go off course and go back to Houston, you gotta hit Frenchies.

Frenchies?
E: Frenchies, yeah, like we flyin' outta Houston, so we gonna hit Frenchies. And get that caaaaake, get that cake special, with the red soda!

A red soda? Not cherry, not strawberry!
E & J: Red!

Y’all are so black, I love it.
[laughs]

 

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Tekashi 6ix9ine Identifies Cardi B And Jim Jones As Nine Trey Members And More Takeaways (Day 3)

Daniel "Tekashi 6ix9ine" Hernandez's witness testimony continues to shock the masses. On Thursday (Sept. 19), the rapper took the stand again to elaborate on his kidnapping as well as interviews he gave about his broken relationship with members of the Nine Trey gang.

Interviews by Angie Martinez and Power 105.1's The Breakfast Club were analyzed due to the rapper's subtle jabs towards his former manager Shotti and defendant Anthony "Harv" Ellison. 6ix9ine's social media personality was also broken down as he explained the definitions of trolling and dry snitching.

But perhaps the most questionable part of his testimony arrived when he name-dropped Cardi B and Jim Jones as members of the Nine Trey Gangster Bloods.

Below are some of the biggest takeaways from today.

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Day 3 1. Tekashi Claims Cardi B And Jim Jones Are Members Of Nine Trey Gang

Hernandez provided context to a wiretapped conversation between alleged Nine Trey godfather Jamel "Mel Murda" Jones and rapper Jim Jones. Complex notes a leaked 'individual-1' transcription revealed who appeared to be Jim Jones. During Mel Murder and Jim Jones conversation, the two discussed Hernandez's status as a Nine Trey member.

"He not a gang member no more," Jones reportedly said. "He was never a gang member. They going to have to violate shorty because shorty is on some bullshit." Hernandez went on to identify Jones as a "retired" rapper and a member of the Nine Trey.

Prosecutors play phone call between Nine Trey godfather Mel Murda and rapper Jim Jones. Tekashi says Jones is in Nine Trey.Jones: "He not a gang member no more. He was never a gang member. They going to have to violate shorty because shorty is on some bull--it."

— Stephen Brown (@PPVSRB) September 19, 2019

When it comes to Cardi B, the rapper named the Bronx native as a Nine Trey member. He was also strangely asked if he copies Cardi's alleged blueprint of aligning herself with gang members in her early music videos. "I knew who she was. I didn’t pay attention,” he said. In a statement to Billboard, Atlantic Records denied 6ix9ine's claims that she was a member of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods. 

In a now-deleted tweet on her official Twitter account, Cardi B responded to the allegation writing clarifying her affiliation, “You just said it yourself…Brim not 9 Trey. I never been 9 trey or associated with them.”

2. Tekashi Defines The Term "Dry Snitching"

In a quick back and forth with AUSA Micheal Longyear, the rapper gave an odd definition of dry snitching. He also made it clear that he was open to becoming a witness to reduce his prison sentence.

Q: Who is Jim Jones?#6ix9ine: He's a retired rapper.Q: Is he a member of Nine Trey?A: Yes.

— Inner City Press (@innercitypress) September 19, 2019

3. Tekashi Was Willing To Pay Hitmen $50,000 To Take Out Friend Who Kidnapped Him

Shortly after he was kidnapped by Harv, the rapper went on Angie Martinez to slam those in his camp. Without saying names, Hernandez promised he would seek revenge on those behind the kidnapping. The court was then showed footage of the incident which was recorded in the car of Jorge Rivera who was already a cooperating witness in the case. Hernandez reportedly confirmed he wanted to pay a hitman $50,000 on Harv after the kidnapping.

4. He Believed He Was "Too Famous" To Hold Gun Used In Assault Against Rap-A-Lot Artist"

The alleged robbery of Rap-A-Lot artist was brought up once again when Hernandez confirmed that he recorded the incident. A weapon allegedly used in the incident was tossed to Hernandez by his former manager Shotti. When asked why he refused to hold the gun the rapper said, "I'm too famous to get out the car with a gun." As previously reported, the rapper was kicked out of the car after the incident in Times Square and was forced to take the subway back to Brooklyn with the gun.

5. Tekashi May Be Released As Early As 2020

Cross-exam Q: If you get time served you'd get out at the beginning of next year, correct?#6ix9ine: Correct.

— Inner City Press (@innercitypress) September 19, 2019

There's that.

6. Footage Exists Of Tekashi Pretending He Was Dead

Harv's lawyer Deveraux: Do you recall publishing a video pretending you were dead?#6ix9ine: Can you show me? For now, a private viewing.

— Inner City Press (@innercitypress) September 19, 2019

Before wrapping up, the court briefly touched on his trolling ways. From setting up beefs to strange notions like faking his death, the videos were viewed privately.

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Tekashi is seen in Los Angeles, CA on November 8, 2018.
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Nine Trey Trial: 4 Takeaways From Tekashi 6ix9ine's Testimony (Day 2)

The second day of Daniel "Tekashi 6ix9ine" Hernandez's witness testimony provided insight into the handlings of several incidents surrounding the rapper including the attempted shootings of rappers Casanova, Chief Keef and former labelmate, Trippie Redd.

As Complex reported Wednesday (Sept. 18), Judge Paul Engelmayer noted the leak of the rapper's testimony that hit YouTube by way of VladTV. Shortly after, Hernandez explained how the Trey Nine gang began to fall apart–or split into four groups–leaving him to take sides. In the end, Hernandez was robbed and kidnapped by his own manager as video footage revealed. The rapper explained how his initial deal turned into extortion as he provided over $80,000 to the gang.

See more details from the trial below. Hernandez will take the stand again Thursday (Sept. 21).

Day 2 1. Tekashi Arranged A Hit On Chief Keef For $20,000

The hit against Keef was widely reported last year but Hernandez provided clarity to the incident. The rapper admitted to arranging a hit on the Chicago rapper after a dispute over "my friend Cuban," a reference to rapper Cuban Doll. Although Hernandez planned to provide the gunman with $20,000 he paid him $10,000 since the hitman fired one shot and subsequently missed.

2. 6ix9ine Credits Anthony “Harv” Ellison For Barclays Center Shooting 

 

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A post shared by Tr3y (@tr3yway_ent) on Sep 6, 2019 at 3:11pm PDT

Hernandez's brief beef with fellow Brooklyn rapper Casanova sprouted from Cas' diss song, "Set Trippin.'" After hearing it, Hernandez said he was ready to "run down" on the rapper. Seqo Billy tipped him off about Cas' alliance to the Bloods set, the Apes and how they would more than likely retaliate if Cas is harmed.

“There’s a kite out saying if any apes happen to cross ya path to fire on you or anybody around you… smarten up,” Seqo wrote in a group chat presented in court. Ellison allegedly replied, “Apes can fire on this dick… They don’t want to war with Billy’s [Nine Trey]." From there, several shootings took place in Brooklyn with one inside the Barclays Center.

3. Tekashi's Beef With Rap-A-Lot Crew Caused Bigger Fallout With Trey Nine 

Hernandez went on to detail the very complicated story behind his beef with Rap-A-Lot records. The debacle started when Tekashi and the Treyway crew didn't "check-in" with Jas Prince before taking the stage at Texas' South by Southwest in March 2018. The incident was further muffled since Trey Nine members like Ellison and Billy Ato were beefing with Hernandez and Shotti at the time. In the end, Hernadez never performed. His crew would later go on to rob and attack an artist from Rap-A-Lot in New York a month later.

4. Footage of the Robbery/Fight Was Filmed By Hernandez aka 6ix9ine

As he and Shotti fled the scene, Shotti kicked the rapper out the car forcing him to take the train to Brooklyn with a gun in his possession. All of the incidents led up to the kidnapping scenario which Herdanaez claimed was in no way staged.

“I’m pleading with Harv,” Hernandez said. “I’m telling him, ‘Don’t shoot. I gave you everything. I put money in your pocket.’ I told him that I was tired of being extorted.” The robbery/kidnapping was filmed by Ellison but also recorded by Hernadez's driver Jorge Rivera who was already a cooperating witness in the case.

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Gary Gershof

Jeremy O. Harris Is Prepared To Make You Uncomfortable With 'Slave Play'

September is a tricky time in New York City. Some days the ninth month can be charming with its cool breeze and clear skies, you forget Old Man Winter is three months away. Other days, September is deceitfully chilly dropping 10 or 15 degrees after sunset. You hug yourself to create warmth and to also block shame for not knowing summer has packed its bags. On the fifth day of September in New York’s East Village, the weather, however, is kind. Clouds like stretched cotton balls float through the sky, while the sun peeks through adding just enough heat without being arresting. It was, like Bill Withers described, a lovely day.

The beauty of the weather was only matched by Jeremy O.Harris’ bold yet inviting presence. Wearing head-to-toe Telfar Clemens, the Yale School of Drama playwright mingled with friends, castmates and the press inside the penthouse suite of The Standard. Holding the last puffs of a loosie and a black purse, O’Harris and I make eye contact. He smiles. I wave and a second later he's pulled into another round of congratulations, cheek kisses, and praise.

Such is the life of an award-winning playwright.

Harris’ production Slave Play earned chatter while at the New York Theater Workshop and has since made its way to Broadway, making the 30-year-old the youngest playwright of color to accomplish the feat. Yet before the mecca to the world's theatrical stage, Slave Play merited quite the hubbub and scathing critiques for its plot. Set on the MacGregor plantation in the antebellum south, three interracial couples work through their relationship woes made present by their sexual disconnect.

And that’s all that will be said about Slave Play. The rest must be witnessed to be understood or at least examined. Harris knows the play will make many uncomfortable and he's okay with that. The Virginia native stands at a towering 6-foot-5 and has always known his mere presence was off-putting to some. Add his Afro to the mix and Harris, a black queer man with hair that defies gravity, is too much to digest. Thankfully, he doesn't care.

He walks over to the terrace and we both lean in for a hug but stop prematurely and settle on a professional yet distant handshake.

“Are you a hugger?” I ask.

“Yes,” he smiles.

Relief. Huggers finally able to hug.

O’Harris is pressed for time so we only chat for 15 minutes but we gag over both being Geminis, talk about white discomfort, why, of all names to give a play, was Slave Play the best choice and whether or not white America can fully love black people.

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VIBE: When creating Slave Play was white discomfort ever a thought?

Jeremy O. Harris: I had this moment with someone the other day and we were talking about the importance of mirrors and seeing each other inside the mirrors of the set. Well, the reason the idea came about was because at Yale the theater was in a three-quarter thrust and the second year project is one of the smallest projects to do. The audience, I think, is 70 people every night. It wasn’t a huge audience, maybe 90, I don’t know.

Anyway, it’s a three-quarter thrust. I went to Yale at a historic time. There were more people of color there than at any other time. The craziest thing about the show for me was while watching, I saw all the people of color checking in with one another throughout the play and them having these moments of revelation together and looking at white people like, "Why are you laughing then?"

I make people uncomfortable. I make people who are straight uncomfortable. I feel like everything I do, I do loudly by accident.

What’s your sign? I’m a Gemini.

Oh my God! I’m a Gemini. When’s your birthday? June 2nd.

I'm June 17. (Laughs) I think being a Gemini is also part of why I live loudly. I don’t shy away from who I am. My hair has always been big. People might eroticize my hair or fetishize my hair but they’re still uncomfortable by it because their hair can’t do this. Also, because I went to predominately white institutions as a child, I learned quickly that my intellect made people uncomfortable.

Were you usually the smartest one in the room? Yeah, or at least the teacher would say that. I think part of the problem with growing up in the south is everything is so racialized, even compliments. It would be "he’s smarter than the white kids and the black kids."

Did you have any other names for the play besides Slave Play? For me, titles are what make a play and the minute I thought of this play was the minute I was thinking about all of the different slave films. The first thing I thought about was on Twitter there was this whole discussion about 12 Years of Slave with people saying, "Why do we always have to be in a slave movie?" and then I thought, "Oh, a slave movie. There are so many slave plays...Oh, Slave Play!

There’s a litany of narratives that can come from that and a litany of histories that come from that. I was like, "Let me try and make something that was the end all be all of these histories" for at least me. It doesn’t have to be the end all be all for the next writer who wants to interrogate these similar ideas and similar histories, but it gets to be my one foray into this question.

I saw Slave Play off-Broadway and it was a lot to take in. However, I think the play isn’t so much about interracial relationships as it is white people’s relationship with black people. Am I correct?

I think you are. I’ve never written a play that’s going to be about one thing.

Because you aren’t one thing.

Exactly. One of my professors said the problem with a lot of American writers is that they write plays that function like similies. This is like this, whereas in the U.K. and Europe and a lot of places I love, those places function like metaphors. I wanted to have a play that functioned as a metaphor. So it’s not like, "Being in an interracial couple is like..." It’s "An interracial couple is" and it becomes a container for a lot of different histories and a lot of different confluences of conflict which I think are important.

Relationships can become an amazing space of interrogation for a lot of our interpersonal relationships, our historical relationships and our thematic, deeply guarded emotional truths that we haven’t worked out on a macro, but we can work them out on this microcosm of a relationship in a way like white-American politics and black-American politics are also in this weird symbiotic relationship.

Do you think white America can ever fully love black people?

I think love is something that’s beyond words. I think its something we have to only know in action in the same way that I don’t know if black America will or should ever love white America, do you know what I mean? How do you love something that’s harmed you so deeply?

Super facts.

But then again, if we’re using relationships as metaphors, [then] we’ve seen people try and make sense of that love in a lot of different ways. You see black America’s relationship to capitalism, which is something that benefits whiteness more than it could ever benefit us, yet there is this sort of weird romance that happens in so much of our music. So much of our literature and so much of our art, with the idea of capitalism even with its own interrogation and criticisms. But there is this weird push and pull. It’s similar to someone who’s in this battered relationship with an ex-lover.

I read you didn’t expect to receive so much criticism from the black community. How did that make you feel? 

It made me feel sad and reflective in a lot of ways. I wanted to make theater for a certain audience and, for me, the best vehicle for making theater for that audience was the Internet. I was like, "How can I flood the Internet with these ideas about what my plays are so I can maybe get a new audience into the theater with more excitement?" And that worked in a certain way. What I didn’t take into account was that I basically asked everyone to learn how to ride a horse bareback without ever learning the fundamentals of riding a horse.

People were interrogating the ideas on the Internet of what this play might be without an understanding of how the theater functions, and so I think that made them feel very displaced from what this play was, and when you feel displaced from something you have to react to it. I don’t blame anyone for their reactions to the title or the images they saw. Some of those images aren’t images I would’ve ever wanted people to interrogate without the context of the theater. In hindsight, I now know, like, "Okay, cool." I do this experiment and I saw some of the false positives of it and I saw the actual positives of it and now I can move on and keep building and repair the relationship. I get to now watch it with more careful eyes.

What questions do you hope white people ask themselves?

I think the whole play is about: how can people listen in a way that’s not shallow but deeply? I think at this moment a lot of white theater audiences believe they’re listening deeply to the black artists that are having this moment right now. But I think when you read the words they write about it, and the quickness with which they have an opinion about it, you recognize they’re not listening deeply. So quickly they’re telling us what they think we said and it’s like, "No, take a second, and let us speak on it." Take a step back.

Slave Play is playing at the John Golden Theater. Get your tickets here.

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