Notes from the Writer and Director of Choir Boy

11 Oct 2023
Nancy Medina and Tarell Alvin McCraney
Image by Camilla Greenwell

It’s wonderful to welcome you to Bristol Old Vic for my first production as Artistic Director. 

I fell in love with Tarell Alvin McCraney’s characters long ago. The musicality in his writing, the earnest voices of love and humanity demand to take up space in our minds and hearts. 

Choir Boy is a play that has sat with me for many years, ringing in my ears and beckoning me to take the leap and revel in its many folds and layers.  I feel humbled to bring this epic play to Bristol, written so generously by Tarell and brought to life with so much love and talent from an incredible cast and creative team.  

The memories of this creative process will stay with me, nourish me and remind me to always be brave with art and life.

And your support for Bristol Old Vic by being here today is hugely appreciated. If it’s your first time, we extend you and extra warm welcome. Please spread the word about the joy of theatre and come on in again soon.

Nancy Medina, Director of Choir Boy and Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic

Image by Justin Bettman

When I was 11 years old, a storm of horrific proportions destroyed my home. I was forced to move from the neighborhood school I knew to a world almost completely different. I was scared and awkward. I imagine everyone was at the time, and I was bullied. Relentlessly. 

I found myself hiding who I was in order to avoid more bullying. I gave up discovering myself, at a time when self discovery is at its most critical, in order to blend in or try to be like everyone else. I wasn’t the only student who was being bullied by classmates. 

And I always admired those students who never wavered from being their true selves despite the pressure.

As adults we look for leaders who are unique, different, and outstanding. Yet somehow we don’t teach our young folx to cherish their unique qualities, in themselves or others. More often than not we find the pressures to bully are handed down from adults. 

What scares us so much about difference that we seek to eradicate it from each other and yet need diversity for survival? 

How do we allow uniqueness to prosper without it destroying the traditions that have been established?

I was bullied as a student and found through it, but what about the students who couldn’t? How do they survive... thrive? 

Choir Boy is a play that takes on these large questions in a lyrical and pressurized school year. Its form and content is built to ask questions of young people and older folx alike. 

The play is a call for us to develop tolerance and compassion in the face of tradition.

Tarell Alvin McCraney, Writer of Choir Boy