delta dandi

Available in Library

Performance text, 90 minutes
An interdisciplinary theatre piece, delta dandi offers glimpses of the transmigration of one Spirit’s many lives. delta dandi asks, how does collective grief and trauma inform the Black-American experience? What must a Soul do to heal? What is the traditional role of Queers in ritual? delta dandi is ritual jazz theatre, conjuring Love.

The Long Center, Austin Texas
The Long Center, Austin Texas

Read Sample

NOTE: Font type denotes lead speaker. Movement/layering text/choral telling are integral to the telling.

the room was dark always dark. standing in the dark i watch her in the
mirror as she brush her long black hair. flowing down her body her long
black hair the brush brushing she look herself in the eye and smile.
come here gal she whisper. every night every night the same

she hit me she hit me she always hit me with brush and broom with stick
and fist she hit me in the night. cursing she drag me to the shed in the
woods and slam and chain the door. nobody hear you crying gal cept the
devil out here in the dark.
scared to scream to tremble to moan i stop
breathing don’t breathe till morning. shed not big enough to stretch. i
stand in pools of piss with maggots swarming. wake in a ball on the floor
in wet with stink and bugs and heat and haunting. i hear her through the
broken slats. always she fling the door open with the sun and pull me out
by my hair. must tend field and house before eat.

why nobody come. why they not come get me. why i here i wonder every
day every day every day i hate her. must hide thoughts. can't
breathe. no talk. no mumble. no scream. my kin live down the dirt road.
they sold me i think to the devil for a few chickens and
a barrel of shine.

with bruised body and heavy eyes i sag in my spirit and spine.i five. i think.

~ ~ ~ ~

the first hands that took me was black/dark as the night.
grabbed my mama
used our own traditions to take us/used prayers we prayed
to hold in place what already was .
our king sent them to carry away carry away many.
they got my mama. i was in she.
nobody knew.
i grow in the pen/in mama.
they keep her caged
wait till price high enough to sell she.
they feed and watch till then.

thunder. drums. fire. dance.
red white.
bananas green.
friday saturday.
good times.
okra. cormeal. rooster. apples.
double axe. 6. ache now ache you
ache king. ache.

full moon. blood red. follow follow mama.
packed sealed.
below deck.
backs open.
flesh stench.
blood vomit. bowels loosed.
mucus and. broken spirits.
she born to that

~ ~ ~ ~

she was a boy born a girl till she became a man then a woman now both
i i i he was a girl then a woman till she became a young man with flowing
hips and hair i i i he a man then a boy i i i she a man she a woman i i
i him. she perfect perfectly made perfectly made for us for we himshe
boygirl manwoman girlwoman man young woman spirit man girl child boy
grown now now now himshe now now now herhe now now now weus i i i

~ ~ ~ ~

Cast Requirements

2 women
1 man
1 GQ (GQ=An identifiably gender queer person)

Set Description



delta dandi is published in the 2012 Northwestern University Press anthology, titled solo/black/woman: scripts interviews and essays". Eds. E. Patrick Johnson and Ramon Rivera-Servera. Funded in part with a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Buy the book HERE.


“The layers of language move and merge with song and dance as the actors conjure mostly momentary characters in the creation of a poetic landscape. Bridgforth designed the play with the tone poems of African American musicians such as Mary Lou Williams in mind. The result is a performance that feels like a series of poems held together by a loose sense of place: a hot bayou rich with juke joints and simmering collard greens.”
—Clare Croft, The Austin American Statesmen


Production and Development History

delta dandi is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by Women & Their Work in partnership with NPN.

Thanks to Steven Fullwood, Project Director of the Black Gay & Lesbian Archive, drafts of the delta dandi script are housed at the Black Gay & Lesbian Archive Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Workshop Production: Northwestern University (2010).

Production: The Long Center in Austin, Texas (2009).

Readings: New Dramatists (2010), Fire & Ink Black Queer Writers Festival (2009), University of Texas Austin (2008), Claremont College (2008), Freedom Train Productions in New York (2008).