With a commission from Playwrights’ Horizons and other leading theatre companies, prestigious awards, residencies around the country and a budding television writing career, Korde Arrington Tuttle is one of the fastest rising young writers in the United States. We are honored that our 10th Anniversary Sandbox Season will open with the original production of Mr. Tuttle’s graveyard shift. A concurrent workshop production is going on at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.
In our never-ending quest to find plays which take us to deeper levels of empathy, discovering graveyard shift was a blessing. In the polarized world between alt-right and left, our nation and world have lost much of our capacity for understanding. We demonize those on the other side. We fail the “walk a mile in their shoes” test, and so our civilization hurtles forward towards endless conflict and lack of understanding and compassion.
Though we cannot condone racism and sexism, it is impossible to move toward a more just society until we can go into the heart of darkness to feel what it is like inside. Inside the one who has wronged you. Inside your enemy. Inside the incomprehensible. It is the courage of Mr. Tuttle to do just that that sets this work apart. We follow two groups of people, on wildly different trajectories, who are destined to collide, and we get to know them as human beings. We laugh with them, we yearn with them as they follow their dreams.
Staging the play with separate locations interlocked in the same overlapping space also gives us the chance to feel how we are all, despite our differences, ingredients of the human stew. We cannot be so easily separated as we would like. We are stuck together on this planet, elbow bumping against elbow. We can feel each other’s breath, smell each other’s essence. We are going to have to learn to understand each other, or our world will continue spinning out of control into racial and sectarian calamity.
What is behind the evil that people do? What preconditioning, what fears, what insecurities drive hatred? Is understanding and forgiveness possible when terrible wrongs happen? In graveyard shift, Mr. Tuttle bravely leads us down the rabbit hole into our darker selves, a scary but rewarding workout in the Empathy Gym.