About the 1940's Clark Doll Experiments
The Clark Doll
One New Work
Three black women find themselves confined to a space; the kind that doesn't allow visitors. It isn't the first time but hopefully, it will be the last. Natasha wants to escape for good; Judi wants to sleep; and Sophia just doesn't want to end up left alone. Meanwhile, this trio of "sistas" will do what they can to survive their circumstances and each other.
Written by Liz Morgan
LIZ MORGAN is a New York-based playwright, poet and performer. Her written work has appeared in the The Huffington Post, the Long Island City One Act Festival Anthology and the Medium publication, Athena Talks. Liz has developed projects with The Fire This Time Festival, The Lark, Rising Circle Theatre Collective, JACK, NY Madness, and National Black Theatre where she was named a finalist for the I AM SOUL Playwrights’ Residency. Other honors include the Torchbearer for Black Theatre Award, SPACE on Ryder Farm Creative Residency (Finalist), New York New Works Theatre Festival (Finalist), Playwrights Realm Writing Fellowship (Semi-Finalist) and the New Works Lab at Stratford (Semi-Finalist). MFA: Brown University www.LizMorganOnline.com
My play has partly become an homage to Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark who started the famous "doll tests." This series of psychological experiments used two dolls, that were identical except for skin and hair color and ultimately showed that both white and African-American children had internalized Eurocentric notions of beauty and anti-blackness. I wasn't surprised to learn that when this test was repeated in the 2000s, the results were the same: young black children who should be playing and dreaming still saw themselves as ugly. My play, The Clark Doll, was written as a way for me to explore my own relationship to internalized hatred at the intersection of my womanhood and my blackness. Why did I often feel sexy but not beautiful; wanted but not desirable; used but not valued? It didn't make sense to me why my features -- tan skin, full lips, round figure -- were mocked on my body but praised on white celebrities. It felt like a maddening conspiracy and I had to figure out how to liberate myself. So The Clark Doll turns to historical narratives, childhood trauma and ancestral knowledge for the answers to the heartbreaking question: Are happy endings for black women? I'm thrilled that Syde-Ide is tackling this piece in Portland. I'm hoping folks that engage with this production will get a chance to look at hot button topics like identity, appropriation, representation in a new way that's visceral, transformative and if they're open to it, healing.