I went to see a play called Maya’s Last Poem on Sunday afternoon. This three-woman play was only about an hour long but it was so power-packed! I am still reflecting. The playwright, Tim Rhoze took an extremely creative approach to reviewing pivotal points of Dr. Maya Angelou’s life.
She is now in heaven and walking around in God’s Library as she gets used to her new home. God is played by a woman and there is a third woman called Petra, who is Maya’s angel-in-waiting. God affectionately calls Maya by her given name, Marguerite. They sit down and have a conversation as they go over key points of her life. God reminds her that she was always there, looking over every detail of her life.
They re-visit times such as her brutal attack, her years of being mute and Mrs. Flowers’s role in her life. Mrs. Flowers is the one who gave Maya her voice back by telling her that poems had to be spoken to show their power and beauty. Maya read for her after making no sounds for six years.
God reminds her that she was building the love of words in her even during her dormant years, because she read voraciously. Maya mentions her love for Thomas Wolfe, Paul Laurence Dunbar and William Shakespeare. Throughout their talk, God is telling her to write a poem and she has been given a legal pad and pen by Petra. As the conversation deepens, she starts a poem and pauses as they continue to reminisce.
She remembers her brother Bailey, her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas and her mother who she later joined as a teen in California. God reminded her that some mothers do not deal with small children that well and that is why she and Bailey had the grandmother. But her mother took them in as teens and gave her incredible confidence when she told her, “You are the greatest woman I know.”
They play the words of Marguerite’s son from her funeral and she is reminded of this phrase. God told her, “When you came into the world, you cried and the world rejoiced. But when you left, the world cried and you rejoiced.” She assured her that her work on Earth was complete and that she had lived to the height of her potential. She only wished that others could find their missions and work on fulfilling the designs set for their lives. She (God) admitted that many do not find it and many blessings are still in a locked room and have not been given out.
The actors in this play where absolutely amazing. After a while, the lead actress started looking more and more like Dr. Maya. I could feel her presence and her smile of approval as the play continued. Towards the end, Marguerite sees her brother, her mother, her grandmother and her uncles. She can also see that her son, Guy and his children and grandchildren were doing just fine here on Earth.
She recites her last poem and it brought tears to the actress’ eyes and to those of us in the audience. It ends with her being adorned in a beautiful white scarf that she held by its ends to look like wings. There was a standing ovation and I left feeling so happy that I did get to see Dr. Maya Angelou speak in Boston around 2004.
This was a superb performance! The cast of phenomenal women were Jacqueline Williams as Maya Angelou; Cheryl Lynn Bruce as God and Antora DeLong as Petra. I am still searching to see if the poem recited was written by the playwright or if it was one of Dr. Maya’s. Either way, it was a win-win poem and it sounded like something she would have penned. Tim Rhoze‘s script is filled with substance and his imaginative ideas soared and took a bountiful flight in this wonderful play called Maya’s Last Poem.
August 16, 2015