From Cain and Abel to the dudes from Oasis, brothers have a long history of fighting and generally acting like pricks with one another. Sometimes it's jealousy. Other times it's because they simply have nothing in common. In The Brothers Size, which opens this weekend at GableStage, two male siblings living in the Louisiana bayou find themselves at odds for their very souls.
Written by local-boy-made-awesome Tarell Alvin McCraney, the play is part exegesis of destiny, part absorbing African mythology, and all riveting drama. "It was born out of deep rhythms I kept hearing," McCraney tells us. "And a summation of a really good education in African-American religion and history."
The New World School of the Arts grad wrote The Brothers Size a year
before attending the Yale School of Drama, taking a year off between
DePaul University and grad school, and working different productions
between Chicago and Miami. McCraney was compelled to tell the tale of
the Size brothers to meet two desires: (1) to perform alongside his
African-American colleagues and (2) to provide material that would, as
he puts it, "showcase our young black selves."
The play focuses on two African-American brothers, Ogun and Oshoosi
Size. Ogun is grounded, running his own business and looking to flee
hardship through hard work, while ex-con Oshoosi is a wandering cat
constantly looking for escape from reality. The differences cause a
brouhaha between the two. And when an old buddy who was in jail with
Oshoosi shows up, the situation escalates.
The Brothers Size, which eventually grew into McCraney's ambitious
Brother/Sister trilogy, saw its first production at Yale as McCraney's
second-year thesis project. From there it was performed at New York's
annual Under the Radar festival and then moved to London's Young Vic
Theatre. And now, not only will McCraney's hometown finally get to see
the production, but also it marks the first time he directs one of his
The myth that McCraney's story plays on is two brother-warrior deities
from Yoruba named Oshoosi and Ogun. (Coincidence? No!) "It is described
that Oshoosi is the wandering spirit akin to Saint Christopher,"
McCraney explains. "Ogun is his brother, the maker of weapons and
builder of bridges. It is said sometimes Oshoosi wanders and gets lost,
and Ogun must build tools to find his brother. I read that and thought
what an incredible story in two lines."
As for presenting the play to the city where he found his theatrical
calling, McCraney remains somewhat incredulous. "Miami has given me an
incredible theatrical vocabulary," he says. "But I bet most audiences
here won't recognize my work as authentic, original 305. We'll see. I
like to be wrong."
See The Brothers Size, which opens this Saturday and runs through October 2 at GableStage at the Biltmore (1200
Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables). Call 305-445-1119 or gablestage.org. Tickets cost
$47.50 ($42.50 for seniors).
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