PLAYWRIGHTS GAB CODY and LORI ROPER in SCENE FROM PLAY
Racial oppression, exclusion, belonging, and interracial marriage were just some of the issues being looked at in “The Sisters Grey,” a play written by playwrights Lori Roper and Gab Cody.
“We talked about the mythology of racism and we both hope to omit racism and show people how absurd it is. We want people to examine their own life,” Roper said.
“The Sisters Grey” tells the tale of two sisters-in-law one Black and one Jewish who both feel that their family histories require retribution and sacrifice from others.
The idea for the play was developed after Cody and Roper met at the 2011 Dramatist Guild conference and started sharing their own experiences of exclusion and belonging in their own social circles.
“Both characters have an ancestry of slavery, but there are moments in the play that are funny and absurd because we know the ridiculousness of racism and we handle it in a very funny way,” said Cody, a Pittsburgh resident and Point Park University teacher who also works as a filmmaker, storyteller and producer.
According to Cody and Roper, “The Sisters Grey” is a multi-ethnic, interdenominational work. In addition to an honest discussion about race, it unravels the unspoken complexities that occur within female relationships—especially interracial ones. Cody and Roper believe their production is the next logical step in the examination of the African and Jewish Diasporas.
Pittsburgh audiences were treated to the production when the August Wilson Center for African American Culture gave the playwrights a page-to-stage development deal that included a writing residency, a round table discussion and a work shop production of the “The Sisters Grey.”
“Pittsburgh was a great launching pad for this kind of work because it speaks to the communities in Pittsburgh,” said Roper a professor of English literature at Essex County College in Newark, who founded the Atticus Theater Workshop, a writing lab for aspiring playwrights. “We are grateful to Mark Southers and the August Wilson Center for African American Culture for providing the opportunity to workshop and develop this play.”
Following its debut in Pittsburgh, Roper and Cody plan on launching “The Sisters Grey” in New York City and later in New Jersey.
“We’re really happy that we’ve created a story that is brave enough to discuss this issue of race and the conflicts surrounding it,” Roper said. “We’re proud of the work we have created. It’s authentic and we won’t shy away about how important it is.”