"Daddy": A Melodrama (NHB Modern Plays)
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"Daddy": A Melodrama (NHB Modern Plays)

Jeremy O. Harris

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"Daddy": A Melodrama (NHB Modern Plays)

Jeremy O. Harris

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About This Book

Franklin, a young black artist on the eve of his first show, meets Andre, an older white art collector, and before long their feverish connection develops into an unbreakable bond.

But when Franklin's mother, Zora, decides that her son is in peril, she enters into a battle of wills with Andre over the soul of the man they both call 'baby'.

Basquiats and Birkins, gospel and pop, fantasy and reality: all collide around a Bel Air swimming pool in this deeply surreal exploration of intimacy and identity.

"Daddy" is Jeremy O. Harris's blistering melodrama, first performed in New York City in 2019, and at the Almeida Theatre, London, in 2022, directed by Danya Taymor.

'A masterpiece that doesn't so much pull the rug from under you as yank it, then stick around to laugh at you lying on the floor, dazed and bewildered... there's no danger of you forgetting "Daddy" ' - Independent

'A gleeful killing spree of sacred cows and sensitivities... a thrilling, jolting experience, boldly conceived and staged' - Evening Standard

'Bold, brawny, and flamboyantly theatrical... thrilling' - Guardian

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Information

Year
2022
ISBN
9781788505772
ACT ONE (FRANKLIN + ANDRE)
Scene One
Before us, downstage, there is an expansive infinity pool. Perhaps there are in flatables? Perhaps not. Upstage there are five poolside chaise lounges.
Behind those, a glass wall and a sliding door leading to a stark white room that may or may not have art on the walls. When the door is slid closed you can’t hear what’s being said behind it.
FRANKLIN stands in the middle of the room looking around. He is dripping wet and wearing only a Speedo. He’s a bit more than drunk.
ANDRE enters with a towel. He’s touching himself, his face, high on molly. The sliding door is open.
ANDRE. How was the pool?
FRANKLIN. Is that a Twombly?
ANDRE. You know him?
FRANKLIN. Obsessed.
Saw his, um,
his retrospective last year.
I got lost in all the swirls.
ANDRE. (Goddamn you’re beautiful.)
Was that –
It was molly / you gave me right?
FRANKLIN. Did you know Rauschenberg left his wife for Twombly?
I didn’t –
so random…
just,
yeah…
I think it was molly
unless it was K…
Pause.
There was this old white lady
who DID NOT
approve of that fact
being in the audio tour.
ANDRE (reaching out for FRANKLIN’s legs). Has anyone ever told you
you have legs like Naomi?
FRANKLIN. Naomi?
ANDRE. Campbell.
She also did a lap in my pool once.
A moment…
FRANKLIN. Oh.
No.
Nobody’s ever said that.

(Fuck.
I’m super high.)
ANDRE. May I?
FRANKLIN gestures that he may.
ANDRE begins to rub his face up and down FRANKLIN’s legs.
From his feet to his thighs.
(Still rubbing.) (Mmmm…
Smooth.
Like the sweetest chocolate.)
FRANKLIN.…
You know…
The woman,
that white woman from the retrospective,
she kept saying,
“Why?”
Over and over…
“Why?”
Then she was like,
“Why do they INSIST on shoving it down our throats.
The man,
he paints,
I don’t give a rat’s ass if he was sleeping with Big Foot!
Just tell me about the goddamn paintings.
You know?
It’s just –
Everything else?
It’s all just gossip.
And I do NOT respond well to gossip.
I don’t take it from my children and I don’t take it from my friends
and I DO NOT want to be forced to engage with it at a museum exhibition.”
Then her little group of rich white lady friends,
definitely members,
maybe donors, sort of shook their heads in agreement and took off their little earphones.
Then walked away.
He begins to laugh.
That tickles.
ANDRE (he continues rubbing). Do you know a lot about art?
FRANKLIN. A bit…
I’m an artist, or
Whatever…
I actually have a like
just like a little show /
coming up in a –
ANDRE. Amazing.
You know
I have more.
All the best.
FRANKLIN moves a bit away, looking around.
FRANKLIN. I saw the Calder in your living room.
And there was a Lichtenstein in your foyer.
ANDRE (a come-on) And an O’Keeffe in the kitchen.
An Arbus
and two Shermans in my office.
FRANKLIN.…

ANDRE (standing up). But you haven’t seen my favorite room yet.
ANDRE grabs FRANKLIN’s arm and stares into his face deeply. It’s weird but it has a sort of creepy sensuality to it, European.
FRANKLIN. What’s so special about it?
ANDRE. See for yourself.
Go through that door
take an immediate left
then open the first door on the right.
FRANKLIN looks at him for a moment and then walks out of the room. ANDRE rubs his own face for a few moments and smiles.
There is the sound of someone excitedly running down a hallway before FRANKLIN re-enters.
FRANKLIN has a new light in his eyes.
FRANKLIN. You have a room full of BASQUIATS?
ANDRE. I loaned a few to SFMOMA
but yeah.
FRANKLIN. This is –
FRANKLIN starts to laugh now. Struck by the absurdity of it all.
ANDRE. Little Naomi.
You’re so…
Look at you. /
Goddamn.
FRANKLIN. Don’t you find that a bit gauche?
ANDRE. What?
FRANKLIN. A room full of Basquiats?
Don’t get me wrong it’s
like,
it’s cool,
Like,
Amazing… or whatever.
But it’s
Like, yeah,
you have money but
curatorially
the taste is like,
booty.
ANDRE. Booty?
FRANKLIN. Yeah.
Like,
straight
ass.
The pieces in that room are essentially in conversations with each other.
Which is so boring.
A Basquiat can’t be in conversation with itself.
It has to be…
like…
like, Basquiat is such a big personality.
There can only ever really be
like
one of him in a room at a time.
Otherwise the space gets overwhelmed.
ANDRE. Interesting…
FRANKLIN. Also,
don’t you think,
like,
well like, owning a Calder
like a big Calder
is also gauche.
Especially
when you have like…
a Sherman in your office
And an Arbus in the bathroom?
(ugh…)
ANDRE smiles and begins to walk around FRANKLIN taking stock of his body like he’s a sculpture ripe for procurement, except this is a statue he can touch when he sees an imperfection, a perfection.
ANDRE. My interior architect
didn’t think so.
FRANKLIN. Your interior architect either has bad taste
or wanted their fee to be higher.
Because right now you seem like the kind of dude who has a shit ton of money,
But like,
No guidance,
no education
and no taste.
Like, this screams nouveau riche.
You know?
FRANKLIN looks at ANDRE and realizes he’s drunk.
Oh.
Fuck. I’m sorry.
(goddamn it.
goddman it.
goddamn.)
ANDRE. Why are you apologizing?
FRANKLIN. Because I have this
like
habit?
Of like –
trying to force everyone to see
the world how I see it?
So,
like
I can’t s...

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