html> Ian Walker: The Gravedigger's Tango


One Drop of Blood

Tyrie, Dick, and Bennie have gotten together under the guise of "poker night" to discuss what to do about their new neighbor, a man who brought drugs and chaos into their middle-class Black community. After much arguing, re-living the past, and grappling with the future, a plan is presented: they will go to Duncan's house at midnight and threaten to burn it down if he doesn't conform. But before the three can agree on the plan, the fourth member of their usual poker game arrives, the town sheriff. J.D. tries to wring the truth from the three, and, failing that, uses his friendship as a bargaining chip to prevent what he sees as a developing tragedy. Undeterred, the three resolve to carry out their plan. The plan, however, doesn't go as expected. Duncan uses the confrontation as a forum to taunt and ridicule them. After the failed confrontation, one of them returns to shoot Duncan in his yard, but his (or her) identity remains a mystery. A new plan has to be developed: how to protect the guilty person without revealing, even to themselves, who the murderer is. When J.D. returns to question them, he uncovers not the truth of who shot Duncan, but the secrets the men have been keeping from each other. Before the murder is solved, all of their lives are changed by the revelations.

Set in an upper middle class African-American neighborhood, One Drop of Blood is an exploration of the economic, color, and culture divides within the Black community. It deals with what people do in the face of society's quiet decay: their childhood barber shop has been converted into a chain store, the church defaced by vandals, their marriages and friendships have become pale in comparison to their childhood dreams. Into this sorrow and quiet rage comes an outsider, a member of the lower class who wins a house in their bedroom community and spurs them down a path towards vigilantism, self-revelation, and destruction. Structurally, the first half of the play is a train wreck in slow motion. Violence is the inevitable outcome. The second half is a psychological "who dunnit". Questions of vigilantism versus law, love in the face of change, betrayal, social values, and economic prejudice drive this play.

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