Are You Now or Have You Ever Been…
THE STORY: The year is 1953 in the Harlem apartment of African American writer Langston Hughes. Unable to sleep in light of the hearing he faces the next day, he gets up and begins to write a poem but finds his living space somehow inhabited by his readers. Exposed, guilt-ridden, and fearful, he confesses how he intends to answer McCarthy’s accusations that he is a Communist—imploring his readers not to abandon him no matter what they might read or hear. ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN… is a speculative drama about the clash between art and politics that celebrates the legacy of Langston Hughes and his history of literary activism in the face of oppressive power.
“[Brown] infuses this one-act with Hughes’ poetry. …Its intellectual heft is part of what’s so compelling about ARE YOU NOW… This is a play about the power of ideas and also the difficulty of pinning down the imagination.” —Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
“[A] probing, deep, and rich work…” —City Pages (Twin Cities)
“…Brown’s way of interweaving speculative musings, impassioned diatribes, and Hughes’ poems themselves is so seamlessly done that the play itself is like poetry to watch. …The treatment of race is powerful in its subtlety… ARE YOU NOW… is a play that, like Hughes’ poetry, opens many doors and refuses to close them or to give the audience too many obvious signposts. Themes circle back on themselves, expanding out or spiraling inward in new and unexpected ways.” —AisleSayTwinCities.com
“Brown has succeeded in making a resonant, affecting story. Though the narrative deals more in philosophy than emotion, the undercurrent of a man struggling to be recognized as such hits at the gut, not the head.” —Twin Cities Daily Planet