LES MAINS- FOR FRIED PLANTIN
There is a particular kind of grief that settles into the body when you truly understand what happened to your people. Unlike the grief of something or someone lost, it colours everything from that point on. Grief settled into my body before I was born. 'For Fried Plantin' is the result of giving voice to this cache of grief that I am the keeper of.
'For Fried Plantin' was birthed the same way that most of my work is born; a fierce stubbornness, which after a call with my Abuelita, is followed by a surrendering that can only be described as rapturous. I wrote it in 2015 over the course of 4 months. On November 21st 2015 it debuted at the National Theatre of Canada. I performed it in what is now known as the United States of America, and on Turtle Island. On February 2016 I performed it for the last time.
If you haven’t seen my play, you might be wondering why I wrote a play about fried plantin. For those of you who have seen my play, you will know that though it is the main character, the play isn’t about fried plantin alone. 'For Fried Plantin' is centered on Sade, a 23 year old Black girl who fries 3 plantin throughout the play, all while speaking about her grandmother, grief, mental health, love and Black girls. By the end of the play she has fried all of the plantin.
This play is for and about Black girls.
I wanted to write a play where for once, the default was a Black girl. I wanted to write a play where all the she/her pronouns were referring to Black girls. It breaks my heart that for far too many of us, we are not even the default in our own lives. Before I am anything I am a Black girl. I do not use the term Black girl as a hyphenation of the word 'girl'. For me, being a Black girl is not is an appendage to my experience of being a girl. Being Black is compulsory to how I make social, political, cultural, economic and ontological meaning out of my life. It is the year 2018 and we still live in a world where the social, cultural, historic and economic impact of Black women is taken for granted, negated, and all but denied. This play is for anyone who has survived and is still surviving being a Black girl.
Black girls are the default for all of the art that I create, and this play was no different. However unlike the rest of my work, this play was focused on providing an offering to Black girls. Not just any offering, but an offering that has been with us for generation upon generation, and holds stories that we wish we knew.
Plantin is the closest thing that my people have to not only a form of documentation of our genetic genealogy, but also the genealogy of our trauma.
I learned very early that plants are magic. The feeling that comes with watching your mother who possesses a harshness and coldness (which is the result of surviving unending forms of oppression), transform into a gentle version of who she might have been if her life was different in the presence of plants, is a feeling unmatched by anything else. This is probably why so many of our moms and aunties have more plants than children in their homes. The protection that is needed from humans is not needed in the presence of plants. It is easier to speak tender words to plants when the fear of betrayal is not present. Most of us have watched these women and wished they would speak these same words to us.
Rarely is there an acknowledgment of not only the colonization, but the imperialism that plants have and still continue to endure. However, other than other members of the African diaspora, the only other living thing that has been present for everything that we have been through are plants. Plantin has been a constant for so many folks from the Caribbean, and it is also one of the only connections that we still have to the continent. My use of the term 'plantin' is not apolitical, nor is it my patriotic stance for the Caribbean. For me, using the term 'plantin' is how I not only remember where I came from, but it is also how I intentionally refuse to assimilate to colonial ideations of language. Plantin for me is my practice of linguistic decolonization.
Therefore, writing 'For Fried Plantin' was not simply the culmination of years of writing, talent and an active imagination. This play is the cartographic practice of acknowledging my ancestry and my existence as a Black girl in ways that this society in all of its pseudo post-racial, neoliberal, white feminist glory could never.
Having the film interpretation of my play manifest itself on the 2-year anniversary of the last time I performed it, is not coincidence. It is divine timing. This video is something that I could have only wished for, and the care with which Meron has handled it is something that I could have only dreamed of. Thank you boo.
To say that this play was a labour of love would be an understatement. So instead I will call it what it truly is; an altar. An altar of what was, what is and what has yet to come.
And too all of the Black girls who watch this just know that you have and will always be my first priority.
This is a cinematic revisioning of 'For Fried Plantin'.
'For Fried Plantin' is centered on Sade, a 23 year old Black girl who throughout the play fries 3 plantin, all while speaking about her grandmother, grief, mental health, love and Black girls. By the end, she has fried all of the plantin.
This is by Black girls, about Black girls, for Black girls.
Production: Meron Gaudet & Kayla Carter
Director of Photography: Meron Gaudet
Sound: Meron Gaudet
Voice: Kayla Carter
Writing: Kayla Carter
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Meron Gaudet is a journalist and digital content creator. While residing in Toronto, she has made a career out of her passion for revealing untold stories. Meron currently works at the award-winning production company; Markham Street Films. She is working towards her goal of directing and producing her own documentaries that focus on giving a voice to the underrepresented. Meron can be found on Twitter as @M_3rcy.
Kayla Carter is a Tkaronto based multidisciplinary artist, educator, and healer. Her work focuses on ancestral and intergenerational trauma, mental health, shame, healing, diaspora, sexuality, race, gender, and what it means to be unabashedly human. Kayla can be found on Twitter as @kaylaxcarter.