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She found her distinctive voice in the portrayal of nearly 20 characters in the play “Home”

Brittany Inge learned about the piece Home when the Roundabout Theatre Company and director Kenny Leon asked them to participate in a reading of Samm-Art Williams' popular 1979 drama. It was April 2021, the pandemic was raging, and they had to rehearse and film the reading over Zoom.

At that time, the Roundabout Theatre announced the creation of the Refocus Project, a multi-year program dedicated to reviving and reintroducing marginalized plays into the American canon.

“It was cool to discover the play as part of the Refocus project, which aims to redefine what constitutes a ‘classic’ play by shining a spotlight on plays by 20th-century BIPOC playwrights who have been overtaken by history. Not because of their merits, but because of their identities,” says Inge. “I certainly benefited from their mission. I had never heard of Home Up to this point.

From the beginning, she had a very emotional reaction to Williams' critically acclaimed play, which premiered with the Negro Ensemble Company, was brought to Broadway in 1980 and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. “I immediately fell in love with the language,” says Inge. “The way the play moves so seamlessly between scenes and poetry/prose.”

While Home Cephus Miles, a black farmer, is tied to his family's tobacco fields and small farm in Cross Roads, North Carolina. No matter how devoted he is to the land, this land of haves and have-nots cares nothing for him. Miles' deep-rooted religious convictions against killing and for charity force him to refuse to join the Vietnam War. The consequences are devastating. From then on, his life falls apart.

Throughout the play, the concept of home as a physical and spiritual place is ever-present. “Home is a coming-of-age story about Cephus Miles, who feels challenged and beaten down by life. And the play tells the story of how he finds his way back – not just to his physical home, his country – but to his home with God and his home within himself,” says Inge. “The play watches him find his way back to his core values.

Last month Home Premiere on Broadway at the Todd Haimes Theater at the Roundabout Theater. The play premiered a few days after the death of Samm-Art Williams at the age of 78. Directed by Kenny Leon. Home starring Inge, Tory Kittles and Stori Ayers. While Kittles plays Cephus Miles, Ayers and Inge play the rest of the characters that appear in the film, including preachers, girlfriends and various relatives.

Together, Inge and Ayers play about 40 characters. The trio forms a cohesive and unified ensemble – a finely tuned orchestra. “We are a three-person band on stage, all we have is each other. So the trust had to develop quickly,” says Inge. “Honestly, we just dove in and surrendered to the process.”

At first, both Inge and Ayers were nervous about having to play so many different people, but it turned into a joyful challenge. “Kenny insisted that each character should be unique and distinctive, whether we played them for three lines or three pages,” says Inge. “We took inspiration from everywhere – family members, online clips, our imaginations – to create the 40 characters that the two of us play.”

One of the most notable characters Inge plays is Pattie Mae Wells, who is so central to Cephus' life. The character holds a special place in her heart. “I feel like she and Cephus are on parallel journeys throughout the show, but we just stay with Cephus to learn more about him. Pattie is also on a journey to figure out what's important to her and what her home really means in her life and in her heart,” says Inge.

“What I love most about Pattie is how familiar and familial she feels to me and how much of an impact she has on me as a character. She's the character I can most easily embody. She feels like one of my ancestors.”

Jeryl Brunner: Home page The playwright Samm-Art Williams died a few days before your first preview. Did you have the opportunity to speak to him? And what would you like to say to him now that you are in the middle of the performances?

Brittany Inge: Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to speak to Samm-Art before he passed away. But if I had the chance to speak to him, the first thing I would have done is thank him for this wonderful work. And then I probably would have asked him about the real people in his life who inspired the characters Cephus meets throughout the show.

Brunner: How has Home changed you?

Inge: I feel expanded through this work, as an artist and as a person. I am forever changed. I feel stronger and more in tune with myself – my imagination feels rekindled in some ways. I always say: Home is “a beast of a piece”, but more than that, Home is a gift. It leaves you in a better state than it found you. I don't think I'll ever approach this craft the same way again after the impact of this piece.

Brunner: If someone were to ask: “Why should I Home,” what would you say?

Inge: I believe that everyone can see themselves and a part of their own journey, either in Cephus or in one of the many characters they meet throughout their lives. Everyone can learn something from Cephus' story and see something in it.