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When Betty, an African American woman is first seen she seems frozen. Frozen in time but also encapsulated in a painting. One of the most difficult concepts in history is the idea that the people who get their pictures done are always the people in power. But behind every person of power are the people that they have used in order to get where they are. In the case of American history many of our forefathers owned slaves. this particular story takes place in an art gallery where pictures from many many generations ago are on display. But a painter decided that instead of looking at the white man who ran this country we are going to look at the Black slaves that built it. Betty will come forward, step out of the painting and have a conversation where she tells us about what life was like before she was captured and brought to a country that was not her own, separated from her family, and enslaved. Betty sees this moment in her life as a celebration, because she recognizes by being apart of this portrait she is forever memorialized and remembered. This emotional feeling is more than she ever thought that she would get from being a slave. This story is a beautiful example of the importance of art and also recognizing that behind every portrait where there is a house there is someone that built it, where there is a man there is a partner standing behind them that helped to support them, and where there is a dive into American history there are slaves who have been forgotten, unappreciated for the forced labor that built this country. *This character must be Black.

Truth of The Portrait

  • (Scene opens with Betty, an African American woman who is frozen in a pose that is to represent the fact that she actually is living in a painting. The audience sees her as the painter did and we view the “exhibit” that is on display. After a few moments her eyes begin to blink, her lips start to stretch and she looks directly at us, the painting comes to life, her history speaks.)


    I hope I didn't startle you. A genuinely hope that my presence is not something that invokes fear in any of you. I am content, as I realize that I am always a part of history because someone was able to capture me. How ironic. I was physically captured, enslaved and now I find myself being captured again but this artistry gives me a presence. Let me introduce myself, in my origin country my name was Asha. My village was on the Gambia river. We were happy, more than that we were free. (She sees someone coming.) Someone is coming. (Freeze) I hear people when they stand in front of these paintings in these museums, and I wish they could hear me while I cry inside. They are captivated by the beauty of the colors that are being used in these paintings of men who created, built this country on the premise that they are creating a country that will thrive for their sons and daughters. (Beat, laughs) What a profound goal, to build a country for your children, so beautiful right? (Beat) But my children. The children of my village. Why didn’t get a say in whether or not we wanted to be the horse that carried the wood that build this country?

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