Arts and Culture

Coming up in the lineup for the 2015 Humana Festival of New American Plays is “Dot,” a family-drama by Colman Domingo.

The play opens on the Shealy family in their West Philadelphia neighborhood. It’s holiday time, which is stressful enough, but this year is different. Dotty, the mother of three adult children, has begun struggling with dementia. The wild and dark comedy crackles with the kind of humor that only families can provide as it grapples with aging, midlife-crisis and the heart of an inner-city neighborhood.

“‘Dot’ is really about four different women that I know who are dealing with a mother with or father with Alzheimer’s; and all of these women I know were also single mothers raising a son, which I thought was very interesting,” Domingo said.

This play, which Domingo describes as being informed by the realities of living in a West Philadelphia neighborhood, is his third play, and his first to open at Humana Festival.

WFPL’s Ashlie Stevens spoke with Domingo about drawing fiction from reality, finding humor in such a painful disease and how he has grown as a playwright.

How did you take these realities that are darkly comedic, but also really painful and present them in a way that would translate to a lot of people?

“I think because I admire regional playwrights like Athol Fugar, or even writers like Woody Allen, August Wilson who always go back to a certain neighborhood and mine stories from there, and being really specific. And I think that is truly the only way to become universal, to truly be so specific. So I like to go back to West Philadelphia in some way, like with ‘A Boy and His Soul’ and ‘Wild With Happy.'”

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“Dot” premieres Tuesday and runs through April 12.