Author

Naomi Harris

Date of Award

2017

First Advisor

Wesley Brown

Second Advisor

Karen Beaumont

Third Advisor

Francisca Oyogoa

Abstract

Many questions arose for me as I wrote this play, specifically regarding mental illnesses and romantic relationships. The questions of whether or not it’s worth it to risk depleting your own mental health and sanity for the sake or approval of someone else and if one should continue to do that in an effort to try to somehow “save” someone who is past saving have been the most prominent questions. Also, the question of whether or not two mentally ill people who deny the severity of their illnesses can actually have a healthy relationship. My protagonists, Skye Johnson and Tamara Brooks, are two black girls who self-harm and sort of fall in love with their mutual spiral of self-destruction that only they truly understand until Tamara’s parents get her into therapy and she starts medication. She then makes the decision to try and improve her mental health while Skye refuses to care and steadily gets more destructive. I also sought to raise awareness of the class issues that arise in terms of access to mental healthcare. Approximately 20% of Black Americans have health insurance and that percentage is too low. Whether or not you have health insurance determines the kind of healthcare that is available to you and many people (like Skye) can’t afford the copays and deductibles that often go along with therapy sessions and medication costs. With this play, I hope to raise awareness to the fact that there are black girls and women who live with mental illnesses and self-harm and in increasing awareness via the arts, I hope to aid in the alleviation of the stigma of mental illness in the black community and the toxic myth of the strong, black woman. In writing this play, I wanted to create more roles for Black teens and women within the theater because there are so few roles or plays that are written specifically for us. The bulk of my work as a playwright is written for and will continue to be written for Black actors and audiences.

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