Ep 20: “American Utopia” and “The Subject” (Feat: Chisa Hutchinson and Aunjanue Ellis)

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On this week’s episode, it’s Jose’s turn to rant about the Tony Awards and the nominators’ petty snub of The Lightning Thief. The Friends also talk about American Utopia, which is the filmed version of David Byrne’s Broadway show of the same name. It’s currently on HBO. The Friends surprised themselves by really enjoying the show even though they’re not the biggest Byrne fan.

This week’s guests are playwright Chisa Hutchinson (Proof of Love) and actor Aunjanue Ellis (When They See Us, Lovecraft Country). They talk about the film they made together, which is based on one of Hutchinson’s plays: The Subject, about a white documentary filmmaker who makes a movie about Black teenagers. It raises questions about whether it’s possible to be neutral in the face of oppression, and what it makes to be a witness.

Here are the links to the things discussed in this episode:

  • American Utopia by David Byrne on HBO
  • The Subject, which is still looking for a distributor and is on the film festival circuit
  • Two harrowing things that were mentioned but we won’t link to: That Kevin Carter photo of the African toddler and the vulture. Darnella Frazier’s video of George Floyd’s murder.
  • When They See Us, a miniseries by Ava DuVernay
  • Proof of Love by Chisa Hutchinson
  • This week’s Patreon shoutout: the International Theatermakers Award, presented by the Playwrights Realm for artists in America on an O-1 visa. To find out if you’re eligible for the award, fill out the preliminary eligibility survey here by Sunday, November 1 at [11:59]PM EST.


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