When I was a freshman at the High School of Performing Arts in New York, I made chocolate and sold it in school. In a typical day, I made about $5 profit, which was just what a Samuel French playscript cost. Then, after school, I went to the Drama Book Shop, which was then hidden up several flights of stairs in a nondescript building in Times Square (above, I'm told, a gentlemen's club--but I was too naive to realize that!). I bought a Samuel French play and read it on the long train ride back to my home in Coney Island. Then I looked at the ads in the back of the script and decided what play I'd buy next. And that's how I read my way through my freshman year of high school.
Given this history, it was a singular pleasure to return to the Drama Book Shop (in its new location on 40th Street) to read from Racial Innocence. The event, called "The Brilliance of the American Theatre," is an annual collaboration between the Drama Book Shop and the American Theatre and Drama Society, a community that has been central to my intellectual life since 1998. Every year, three ATDS members who have published new books read at the DBS, and this year I was thrilled to be one of the lucky few. My co-presenters were Soyica Diggs Colbert, who read from her new book, The African American Theatrical Body: Reception, Performance, and the Stage, and Stuart Hecht, who read from his new book, Transposing Broadway: Jews, Assimilation, and the American Musical. Mark Cosdon, president of ATDS, moderated the panel.
Many thanks to the DBS and the ATDS (especially Mark) for creating such a fabulous event, to Soyica and Stuart for being such brilliant and congenial co-presenters, and most of all to the many people, including my family and friends, who came out on a beautiful Thursday night to fill every seat in the house.