Poetry. Drama. African & African American Studies. "The new powerful play by Will Alexander, AT NIGHT ON THE SUN, seems to be the beginning of a new phase in his work as a playwright. After his four earlier plays, that have been collected as INSIDE THE EARTHQUAKE PALACE: 4 PLAYS (Chax Press, 2011), and that may be considered an homage to Federico García Lorca, the master of 'mystery plays,' the new play comes close to realize the ideas of Antonin Artaud's 'theatre of cruelty,' although Alexander gives a personal switch to that concept. While Lorca shows in his plays how man falls victim of moral constraints and pitiless fate—as is the case in Alexander's earlier plays—Artaud emphasizes the painful drama of human awareness of his immovable subjection to fate; it is that awareness that shows the cruelty of human existence. Artaud has always stressed the fact that his concept of cruelty as an awareness of fate is much broader than just the experience of sadism or bloodshed. In AT NIGHT ON THE SUN, Alexander evokes the existential struggle between the basic human instinct of destruction, bloodthirstiness and war, and the enlightening discovery of the advantages to mankind of peacefulness and harmonious co-existence. He sets this drama in the ancient Indian empire of Asoka, the legendary ruthless conqueror of all his neighboring states, who unexpectedly decided to stop his reign of war and terror to replace it by a reign of peacefulness between all the peoples of his great empire. His invincible armies were dissolved, to the perplexity of his generals. This revolutionary change of war into peace inflicted a cruel crisis to Asoka's ministers of war. Alexander's play enacts their desperate debates about the loss of their reason for existence, confronted with Asoka's determination to create an empire of peace. AT NIGHT ON THE SUN is a very original philosophic drama, sustained by Will Alexander's wonderful poetic language and his peerless images: it is impressive theatre and extraordinary dramatic poetry."—Laurens Vancrevel"As the curtain rises on Will Alexander's adroit pan-African pageant, courtiers puzzle, stew and snipe over the central mystery of their existence—the absence of King Asoka. Where is he? Can mere ministers of war decide, or do the eerie signals demand the counsel of the magicians? What is he doing, what does he intend? Is intention still on the table? So the old ways play themselves out, but on Asoka's return a table of glittering galaxies play themselves out like cards from the future. Like Lorraine Hansberry's Black Arts Movement era masterpiece Les Blancs, Alexander's AT NIGHT ON THE SUN presents a planet's struggle for self-determination as an occasion for both joy and fear. It is a work of art for our age and for ages yet to come."—Kevin Killian
Born in 1948, Will Alexander is a poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, visual artist and pianist. He was the recipient of a Whiting Fellowship for Poetry in 2001 and a California Arts Council Fellowship in 2002. He was also the subject of a colloquium published in the prestigious African American cultural journal Callaloo in 1999. Author of 20 books (including MIRACH SPEAKS TO HIS GRAMMATICAL TRANSPARENTS, INSIDE THE EARTHQUAKE PALACE: 4 PLAYS, Aboce The Human Nerve Domain, and Exobiology As Goddess), Alexander has taught at various colleges including University of California, San Diego, New College (San Francisco, CA), Hofstra University, and Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, in addition to being associated with the nonprofit organization Theatre of Hearts/Youth First, serving at-risk youth. He is a lifelong resident of Los Angeles.