The vignette plays like something plucked from a 2016 campaign rally: A cocky man in a blond wig steps into a spotlight and starts to talk about his overweening desire to be famous. The actor delivers in a Trumpian diction, even pausing to emphasize the word "huge."
The words, however, were scripted more than a decade ago. Suzan-Lori Parks, the playwright who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for "Topdog/Underdog," wrote a playlet a day for a year that were published in 2006 under one cover as "365 Plays/365 Days." The quick scenes give us glimpses into her fertile imagination.
Full Circle Theater, a new multicultural company founded by several mature artists from the Twin Cities, has selected 46 of the playlets for its first major production, now up at Penumbra Theatre. Billed as a "remix," the two-act show is staged by a quintet of directors (Rick Shiomi, Martha B. Johnson, Lara Trujillo, Harry Waters Jr. and Stephanie Lein Walseth) who bring thematic cohesion and contemporary resonance to vignettes that are experimental and impressionistic — quick scenes that make a point, or ask a poignant question.
In "2 Marys," female neighbors in sunglasses (Siddeeqah Shabazz and Elizabeth Cates) sit in beach chairs and, awkwardly, get to know each other. In "The Executioner's Daughter," a tough mother (Shabazz) and hardheaded child (Gaosong Heu) are reunited in the unlikeliest of places. In "Beginning, Middle and End," we hear an argument between an art practitioner who cleaves to tradition (Shana Eisenberg) and a hip, fresh newcomer (Ashawnti Sakina Ford).
Parks writes sharply about philosophy, the arts and history. She touches on Abraham Lincoln (on his birth as well as his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and her black best friend, Elizabeth Keckley). She sends up George Washington as he crosses (and double crosses) the Delaware. There are bits on "Watergate," "House of Cards" and "Presidents Day Sale," an actual auction of imprisoned figures with names such as Roosevelt, Kennedy and Bush.
The 10-member acting company, which also includes Daniel Coleman, Ricardo Beaird, Matthew Thompson and Marcos Lopez, is mostly young and inexperienced, but full of heart. The main challenge with this production is that Parks' clever episodes pivot so quickly away from their subject, we crave deeper exploration, and a fuller taste of her gossamer genius.