I draw inspiration from… how do I say this without sounding dumb? (laughing) I definitely draw a lot of inspiration from my own children – I have 3 daughters and they’re all very young and just seeing them go through life and take life in and having to help guide them through that is this really intense thing that makes me question everything all the time – which I think is great when you’re trying to write something about the human experience.
I really do try to write with an eye toward the future. I always feel like I’m trying to look at where we’re headed as the human race. I really believe in the idea that as human beings, we are capable of eventually working things out and coming together and creating a more harmonious existence and so I try to write with that in mind – dealing with the present moment but also having an eye towards what the future might hold for us and future generations. A lot of that also has to do with looking at the past. I’m very interested in the idea of legacy – cultural legacy, family legacy and destiny and the aspects of human nature that are beyond just our physical bodies and our emotions but… what’s our spiritual identity? What do we believe in? What do we aspire to? These are all things that I’m interested in – that I draw inspiration from. That I’m interested in writing about.
While I was writing Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea, my professor and I talked about the idea of “leaving blood on the page” – really writing something that costs you something, something that feels like it’s really coming from the heart. And so reflected… We were studying The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and talking about different hero’s quest archetypes, and eventually I settled on the idea of a hero’s quest of a young black man from Baltimore who decides to go off in search of a lost ancestor and take on this impossible quest to recover this lost legacy.
I come from an interracial family – my father is black, my mother is white and there are a lot of things on both sides of my family that I just don’t know. Which I think is probably true for most people. The compulsion to fill in the gaps of what you don’t know and to search for what it was like for my own ancestors has definitely informed the play quite a bit. I think in a way – Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea is sort of me trying to make sense of who I am and where I came from – which I think is a pretty universal sort of longing. Wanting to know where you’re from, why you’re here, where you’re going.
I want Cleveland to know how much I love this Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea cast, Megan Sandberg-Zakian (the Director) and CPT. I feel like this whole organization and everybody who’s working on it is giving a really wonderful production to this script. I’m really excited about it.
And I think that Cleveland audiences should be proud of this – of these performers and this play and this company because I think it’s really special.
Nathan Alan Davis
Playwright, Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea