When you hear the name Tonya Pinkins, you probably think of the TV actress (she’s most well-known for her role on “All My Children”). Or her many film and theater credits may come to mind. This lady has won many awards for her acting prowess. Anyone who has seen her perform knows that she is first-rate. Well, now she is taking things to another level. Pinkins is currently directing a one-act play called “Exit: An Illusion,” by Marita Bonner, playing at Visionary Voices at the American Bard Theater, the Gloria Maddox Theatre, located at 151 W. 26th St. between Seventh and Eighth avenues.
This play is not Pinkins’ first experience directing. She has directed several productions, including “The Vagina Monologues,” and she has also written produced and directed a short film called “What Came After,” which will be featured at various venues, including The World Festival March 16.
Pinkins recently spoke with the AmNews about “Exit: An Illusion.”
AmNews: What is the play about?
TP: It’s about a man and a woman—she is passing for white and she’s got to have a date with Exit Man—it’s metaphorical. Bonner is playing with who has the power and what Black people have to do to survive. The violence that can come out
AmNews: What was your approach in directing this piece?
TP: There’s a moment in the play where violence does happen. I wanted to capture as much of the life of a Black woman. I wanted to capture the mixture of the room, their lives and the power struggle which never turns out right for us.
AmNews: What is the message behind the play?
TP: It’s about the fantasies we have, the power struggles we have with our identity and trying to stay sane, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s when we had no power, and we are still struggling to try to have it.
AmNews: What are you hoping audiences get from experiencing the play?
TP: The Black audiences get it. I don’t know how white audiences will get it. Can they imagine themselves, [where] even in their fantasies they lose? When you put forth all your efforts and you still lose.
AmNews: Why is a play like this relevant today?
TP: It is a reflection of where we still are, almost 100 years later. We’re still fighting to have the validity that our lives matter. We are still fighting to have a presence in a place we were kidnapped and brought to. There is still a force that will hope to erase us from history and we will not be erased from history.
AmNews: How long will it be playing, and how can people get ticket information?
TP: Three one-acts are part of Visionary Voices, “Exit an Illusion” is playing along with “Trifles” and “The People.” The productions are in total one-hour long. It plays until March 8, Wednesday to Sunday, at 8 p.m.
For more information, visit www.americanbard.org.