In 1932, George Bernard Shaw published “The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God,” a bitingly satirical short story that takes aim at organized religion.
In Shaw’s allegory, an African girl, recently converted to Christianity, is abandoned by the white missionaries who converted her for asking too many questions. Left on her own, the girl takes literally the biblical injunction to “Seek and you shall find me” and sets out on a journey to find and actually speak to God.
“‘A’ (What the Black Girl Found While Searching for God)” is Austin theater artist Taji Senior’s response Shaw’s play.
A solo show performed by Senior running July 12 through 14 at Ground Floor Theatre, “A” is the story of a woman searching inside and outside of herself to find her place in the world. Filtered through a lens of black girlhood, Senior says “A” asks the question: Who has the right to self-creation?
“I sort stumbled across Shaw’s story as I was looking for something else and was really intrigued by the idea of a Black, female protagonist being written with enough agency to question religion and God as a construct and as an entity,” says Senior.
In Senior’s play “A” is in a constant battle with herself and the world around her, ‘A’ takes is comfort in her relationship with God, her patient and compassionate friend who offers stillness and understanding. But just as she thinks she’s finally come to understand her own existence, God goes missing leaving ‘A’ to confront an antagonistic narrator whose true identity may lead her to the peace she hopes to find.
Senior, whose previous one-woman show “Amendment” explored the ways in the which the U.S. Constitution both defines and denies the humanity of people, says “‘A’ (What the Black Girl Found While Searching for God)” pulls back to a wider view and goes beyond specific religiosity.
“I didn’t set out to write a play about religion or Christianity,” she says. “I’m just writing about a person trying to find themselves and the peril and doubt they face along the way.”
“I think that’s a deeply personal walk that we all take independent of religion and that’s the story I’m telling.”
“‘A’ (What the Black Girl Found While Searching for God)”
8 p.m. July 12-14
Ground Floor Theatre, 979 Springdale Road
Pay-what-you-wish tickets with a $20 suggested donation