Based on the 1970 novel of the same name by Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Toni Morrison and masterfully adapted for the stage by award-winning playwright Lydia R. Diamond, The Bluest Eye was commissioned in 2005 through the Steppenwolf for Young Adults and the New Plays Initiative. The Bluest Eye can be described as a poignant tale of the struggle to understand and embrace one’s own identity in the midst of trauma and systemic racism.
Examining the nature of beauty in the context of an African-American family in 1940s Ohio, the play is told from the perspective of Claudia MacTeer as both child and adult, as well as from a third person omniscient narrator. The central character, Pecola Breedlove, is a quiet, passive, self-loathing young girl whose hard life leaves her yearning for the blue eyes and blond hair of her much maligned dolls, believing those traits to be her path to beauty and the easing of her hardships. Morrison commented on her motivations to write the novel, saying, “because someone would actually be apologetic about the fact that their skin was so dark...before we all decide that we are all beautiful, and have always been beautiful; I wanted to speak on the behalf of those who didn't catch that right away. I was deeply concerned about the feelings of being ugly.”
Set in the 1940’s, the themes of race, class, self-esteem and violence against women are sure to ring true to contemporary audiences. Although riddled with sadness and deep-seeded injustice, this provocative piece balances the feelings of pain and hopelessness with witty humor and sassy dialogues, making The Bluest Eye an entertaining and enlightening must-see for anyone over thirteen years old. Brown senior Jarrett Key directs the piece for this year’s installment of the Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Department’s Senior Slot.