— Playwright has a heart-stopper over how her stage drama has parallels to the Trayvon Martin slaying in Florida.
It’s as if playwright Jacqueline Pardue Goldfinger pulled the premise for her play Slip/Shot directly from today’s headlines — until you realize she wrote it three years ago.
On hearing about the shooing death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., Goldfinger said her heart almost stopped since it is so eerily like her own play.
“It had echoes not only of what I had written about, but about how the American justice system seemed to let people down,” Goldfinger said, relating today’s story with her own play, which is enjoying its world premiere at the Adrienne’s Second Stage through May 5.
As the Flashpoint Theatre Company’s season closing presentation, Slip/Shot tells the story of a black teenager who leaves his girlfriend’s house one night, and on his way home is shot and killed by a white security guard.
“The title of my play questions whether the security guard slipped and shot the youth by accident or not,” Goldfinger said. “Or was it really the story of a white man more capable of shooting the boy because he was startled or afraid because an African-American male was approaching him, and some of us live with the mythology that African-American men are aggressive?”
It also asks questions family loyalty, as well as the conscious and subconscious influence of upbringing on our perspectives.
Born and raised in the South, Goldfinger, 34, said her upbringing had a lot to do with her new play.
“I’m from Florida, and like most of that part of the country we still have a lot of issues to deal with about race, gender, sexuality and other things that need to be worked on,” she said.
She added that the initial idea for her play came to her in a number of different ways.
“First of all, this is an ensemble piece, so it’s a collection of three main stories that had to be woven together into one play,” she said. “It also came from something I saw growing up. When I was in school and studying the civil rights movement, I remember seeing a sign at the local hospital emergency room that said ‘For whites only.’ The idea that you weren’t human enough to be treated and cared for at a hospital really reached me. And I also became interested in the women’s movement in the south. The idea that a lot of different groups tried to identify themselves and move forward at the same time seemed like fertile ground for drama.”
Over the years, Goldfinger has emerged as a leading voice of playwrights in the region. With her world premiere of the terrible girls (Azuka Theatre, 2020) and Hershel & The Hanukkah Goblins (Gas & Electric Arts 2011), she’s received critical and popular acclaim. She is also a Barrymore Award nominee, and she is thrilled with how her world has evolved.
“I started writing poetry and short fiction in elementary and middle school, and writing plays in high school,” Goldfinger explained. “So I think this is always what I wanted to do.”
She went on to receive a master’s of fine arts degree in screen and television writing from the University of Southern California. Some of her other works include The Oath (performed Off-Off Broadway), The Burning Season (winner of National Plays for the 21st Century Competion), and more.
Up next for Goldfinger, who is also the Playwright-in-Residence at Azuka Theatre, include developing a news play for next season titled Skin & Bones.
“Meanwhile,” she concluded, “I don’t really have a mission with Slip/Shot or other plays I write. It’s more that I want to present a situation that will be rich enough and resonate with a lot of different people to make them want to talk about it when they leave the theater. My only hope is that they will be entertained and moved enough emotionally and intellectually to discuss what they have seen.” ••
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