Play shows black woman's journey to acceptance
Paris Davis Dean grew up receiving heaps of
praise for her hair when she was a child. Maintaining
her straight hair and the
attention she got for it
became an obsession for her, once that followed her to Howard University and later to New York City, where she first took a shot at show business. Dean's one woman show "Outliving the Scars on My Back" has been called every thing from "wickedly funny" to "engaging." One thing that the play can definitely be called is "autobiographical." The play transports audiences back to Dean's childhood (she is a native of Mississippi) and how she says her perception of herself was shaped by the media and images of folks who look nothing like her. "I was a victom of media bombardment and cultural
Paris Davis Dean
stereoypes that have so influenced my definition of beauty without question," she said. Deans says she is not alone. Her show which she adapted from a poem she wrote, looks at how things such as hair straightening and even skin lightening have been used by blacks since the days of slavery as a way to assimilate into the majority culture and remove themselves from their African roots.
In the Show, Dean mixes her experiences with sketches by slave women who give their take on beauty standards among other things. Dean spent a lot of time researching the play. She says the research has benefited her.
"I have become more comfortable in my own skin," she said, "and more responsible for obstacles (that) life brings."
Dean's husband, Michael Dean, co-wrote the show.
Dean got an acting degree from Howard. Her theatrical credites include "Concrete Playground" and "The Undertow". A former model, she once competed in the Miss Black America Pageant.
Aug. 5, Aug. 6 at
3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Tickets are $35
Price includes both shows