Eerie overtones

Jac­queline Par­due Gold­finger: Suc­cess on Philly stages.

— 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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