Play debut depicts life encounters, trauma of Black and Brown men

February 02, 2022

Illustration of the profiles of men of color

“Death by a Thousand Cuts, a Requiem for Black and Brown Men,” written and directed by award-winning screenwriter and playwright Steve Driffin, debuts at Quinnipiac’s Clarice L. Buckman Theater on Friday, February 11 at 7 p.m., with an additional reading Saturday, February 12 at 2 p.m.

This powerful stage play depicts the life encounters, trauma and microaggressions of Black and Brown men who have been historically and culturally silent about the pain they endure living in their skin in America.

“These four men are telling their story flat-footed in a raw and unapologetic way, talking about topics that we usually don’t talk about,” Driffin said. “Black people just want to be heard and theater provides us an outlet for just that.”

Driffin is also the director of youth programs and co-director of operations at ConnCAT, a New Haven organization that prepares youth and adults for educational and career advancement, through after-school arts, and job-training programming.

“This play gives us a good reason to come together as a community,” Quinnipiac’s Director of the Theater Program Kevin Daly said. “Yes, the focus is on the struggles that men of color face, but there is a ton of joy. It is a great play and those watching will no doubt be pulled in by the actors’ charisma and energy. It’s about human life on stage – both ups and downs.”

The event is sponsored by the Office of the Department of Cultural and Global Engagement, the College of Arts and Sciences and the theater program.

“Death by a Thousand Cuts” was a long and emotion-filled eight years in the making and Driffin is still adding content.

The title is based on a form of Chinese torture that occurred for 1,000 years.
Driffin compares it to the treatment and injustices that men of color have faced throughout the past 400 years.

“It’s been a long time of trying to feel it,” Driffin said. “It was not until [the murder of George] Floyd, the pandemic and staying inside for so long, I was forced to deal with my emotions and it just began to pour out. Now I really feel it. The beauty of theater is to be able to open up and talk about things that we may normally not talk about. It’s a place to share our thoughts and emotions in a powerful way that many won’t ever forget.”

According to Daly, the reading will provide a priceless lesson to students by displaying the struggles people are facing in the world.

“Our students are future lawyers, policy makers and police officers, and this play is one lesson where they will learn empathy and how to approach the whole community with awareness and openness,” Daly said. “They’ll do this through sharing relatable experience and spiritual connection. It’s a true collective experience that will bring people together in a way they haven’t been before.”

The reading will be a live event only and feature a talk-back with performers once it concludes.

“We are at a critical moment when people are wondering if in-person arts still have value after going for so long without them,” Daly said. “After 30 seconds of watching this performance, it is absolutely apparent that there is value.”

Tickets are free, but due to the limited seating capacity, they should be reserved prior.

All audience members will be required to show proof of vaccination and wear a mask at all times while in the theater.

Actors will perform without masks. They are vaccinated and will have produced negative COVID-19 tests before each performance.

Stay Connected