P.Y.G. or The Mis-Edumacation of Dorian Belle, a play by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm, which is inspired by George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, is being performed at Studio Theatre from April 3 through April 28.
Exploring race and appropriation, the play is about a white pop star Dorian Belle from Canada who hires black hip-hop artists of Petty Young Goons to ‘toughen up’ his image.
“Dorian Belle is a big deal. He’s a Canadian pop sweetheart, and he’s ready to be taken seriously. So his people hire his favorite hip-hop artists—Black and Alexand, the ‘bad boy’ rappers of Petty Young Goons—to help him toughen up his image. They’re black, he’s white. They’re from Chicago, he’s from Canada. It’s all on reality TV. What could go wrong?” says the play brief.
“This world premiere is a blistering and entertaining look at cultural and racial appropriation in a fictionalized exchange of ideologies, vernacular, and alleged street cred,” the brief adds.
— BroadwayWorld DC (@BWW_DC) April 8, 2019
The cast of the play features Seth Hill playing Blacky Blackerson, Gary L. Perkins III playing Alexand Da Great, and Simon Kiser playing Dorian Belle.
Chisholm said that he originally wrote P.Y.G. as a way of telling white people what to do. “At the talk backs for my plays Hooded; or Being Black for Dummies and Br’er Cotton, there was invariably one audience member who would ask, with earnest, ‘what can they do?’ The plays had inspired them to act but they didn’t know what steps to take to help race relations and injustice. I wanted to write a play about how to be an ally,” he said.
Bridget Minamore in her review of the play in The Guardian called it an “important play, and a great one, that will leave audiences thinking for a long time.”
“Chisholm’s writing is astute about current battles around race, identity and the thunderous burden of history,” Henry Hitchings wrote regarding the play in the Evening Standard.
The play features strobe lights and water-based smoke and haze. The running length of the play is about one hour and 50 minutes without intermission.