Young Black Female Basketball Players With Dreams Of Turning Pro Take Center Stage In ‘Flex’ – WABE

Let’s prepare the ground for the new production of “Flex” at theatrical attire: In a rural Arkansas town, five young black female basketball players dream of becoming pros, but they must first navigate the complex world around them. Will they slam dunk and pass, or foul? “Flex” by Candice Jones is on stage until October 2 in the Balzer Theater in Herrenis in downtown Atlanta. Director Patdro Harris joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom with actor Hailey Elizabethwho embodies the character of Starra.

Interview Highlights:

How the game structure aligns with the actual game of basketball:

“‘Flex’ is an offense term in basketball, so it’s a pattern of how to play basketball on the offensive side of the ball,” Harris explained. “It’s often associated with the ‘replacement’ system. One person has the ball. They passed the ball so fast that opponents can’t follow it, and they say it often in game – ‘Flex!’ »

“Basketball is divided into quarters. You have four quarterbacks in a basketball game, and so the way Ms. Candice set up this piece is, we have quarterbacks instead of, I guess you can say, acts or scenes. We have a first trimester, a break in the first trimester where we sort of slow down and have more of a heart-to-heart moment. We have a second quarter… Instead of being an intermission, it’s actually a half where we all hang out in a really fun, relaxing place,” Elizabeth said. “Then we go into a third quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter, fourth quarter and then finally we have overtime, which is not guaranteed every game, but if you get it , this is the best way to end any kind of the basketball game.

Playwright Jones’ home state of Arkansas, the setting of “Flex:”

“It’s a sense of community. In the South, we have different relationships with people, especially with black culture, and it’s very African for us to have the community involved… The old saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a person” , and it’s true, and definitely in the South, and especially in Arkansas, where Candice gave us this wonderful metaphor about how we connect and are connected to the dirt,” Harris said. “In the play, we talk about, ‘Is this dirt getting to me?’ Because Starra, or the main character played by Hailey, talks about “The dirt is on me, outside on the clay court, but it’s also inside of us.” Things grow from dirt. Dirt is wonderful and you can’t live without dirt.

Starra’s basketball dreams, challenged by humble origins and patriarchy:

“Starra, she’s a feisty, aggressive, assertive, relentless young black teenager, and she’s so determined to make it to the WNBA. This play is set in the 1990s when the WNBA was just getting started, and so there’s this relentless attitude that she has about being a part of that organization,” Elizabeth said. “In Arkansas, many young black teens felt they needed some sort of ticket or some sort of opportunity to help them get out of that more rural environment and into a bigger community, maybe urban, or something that can somehow get them taken to the next level. Basketball, for many of us, is our ticket out.

“There are a lot of themes about women’s bodies – what we can and can’t do, this ability to be pregnant and move mountains, or the choice of whether or not to have a baby, whether we can be professional athletes or not. You know, we still have all these conversations about players in the WNBA not getting paid enough. We have abortion conversations going on right now; a lot of themes are relevant for what we see on the news today,” Elizabeth said. “I would say Candice gave us a timeless piece.”

Theatrical Outfit’s “Flex” is on stage through October 2 at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s. Tickets and more information are available at https://www.theatricaloutfit.org/shows/flex/.

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