The Circle Unbroken is a Hard Bop

Institute History

  • 1993 June Screenwriters Lab


The performance piece THE CIRCLE UNBROKEN IS A HARD BOP is the story of three African American artists—an expatriate dancer, a poet, and a musician—based on the letters they exchange and the memories they share. They all come of age during the political and cultural movements of the late 1960's and 1970's, reflecting on issues of identity: personal, race, nationality, and culture.

The Dancer, who has been in a self imposed exile from the United States for the last 18 years, is at the point of deciding whether or not to return. She yearns to come home, but she is ambivalent. She has bought three return tickets over the years and cancelled two of them at the last minute. It is now January 1992, she has a return ticket and is trying to decide what to do. The Poet and the Musician write letters to her, trying to help her overcome her disillusionment, trying to "bring her in from the cold."

It is a story which chronicles the origin and coming of age of an African American "tribe" . . . a tribe which includes artists, revolutionaries, rapscallions, ex-political prisoners, vegetarians, star gazers, nouveau riche negroratti, among others. The common thread is their music and values, the sex, the politics and the stories they share. The letters are "read" as actual letters at times, as monologues, dialogues, music and slides at others. The audience listens-in as they sum up their lives and invent a biography/mythology of their generation.


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