Citizen: An American Lyric is a provocative meditation on race, fusing prose, poetry, movement, music, and the visual image.
Claudia Rankine’s award-winning poetry collection, Citizen, an American Lyric, has been adapted for the theatre by Stephen Sachs and directed by the accomplished Shirley Jo Finney at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles. The producers describe it as “A provocative meditation on race, fusing prose, poetry, movement, music, and the visual image. A lyric poem, snapshots, vignettes, on the acts of everyday racism. Remarks, glances, implied judgments. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV — everywhere, all the time. Those did-that-really-just-happen-did-they-really-just say-that slurs that happen every day and enrage in the moment and later steep poisonously in the mind. And, of course, those larger incidents that become national or international firestorms. As Rankine writes, ‘This is how you are a citizen.’”
CITIZEN premiered at The Fountain Theatre on August 1st, 2015 and ran through October 11. Since then it has been produced at Kirk Douglas Theatre as part of the inaugural Block Party season in 2017, and at Grand Park’s Our L.A. Voices: Spring Arts Festival in 2018.
The book ranked as a New York Times Bestseller in 2015 and won several awards, including the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry, and the 2015 Forward Prize for Poetry Best Collection.