I metabolize all my questions about the world—past, present and future—through the art form of dramatic writing. Fat Ham was inspired initially by seeing a production of Hamlet that, I felt, put an ocean between me and the characters, in spite of the fact that I have loved Hamlet since I first read it in college. It’s thick with family drama, political intrigue, sex, violence. It’s a blockbuster of a play, but the production I saw reduced its world down to ideas embodied versus a true examination of the human condition, which of course is what I think theater, at its most potent, can achieve. So I started reading Hamlet, watching Hamlet, reading what old white men had said about Hamlet, and from that I started to try to pull the play closer to me and, in my own language, render this story. The language of my family, my communities, my ancestors.
One of the ideas that immediately jumped out to me and is explored in graphic detail in the excerpt from Fat Ham below is the complex and sometimes violence-accented relationship between fathers and sons. In the scene we see Juicy, a kinda Hamlet, confronted by the ghost of his father with a request for vengeance. We see in this scene the beginning of Juicy changing the family cycle by questioning everything and courageously facing one of his greatest fears: his father.