Non-Sequitur presents a chorus of figures and objects carrying on apparently unrelated conversations in a shifting landscape of interiors. Of the play, 2013 Leslie Scalapino Award winner Joyelle McSweeney says, “Khadijah Queen’s Non-Sequitur is the heir apparent to an avant-garde tradition running from the Futurist Sintesi through Lorca’s Impossible Theater, through Black Arts to Suzan-Lori Parks. Smart, jagged, and irrepressible, it splits apart the compulsory coherencies of contemporary life to reveal the barbs and aggressions, fantasies and projections that keep society rolling on its dismal, oppressive track. Against such prerogatives, Non-Sequitur is an incandescent and welcome act of sabotage.
Khadijah Queen is the author of Conduit (Black Goat/Akashic Books 2008), Black Peculiar, winner of the 2010 Noemi Press book award and published in 2011; and Fearful Beloved (Argos Books 2015). Her chapbooks are Exercises in Painting (Bloof Books 2016), I'm So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On (Sibling Rivalry 2013), No Isla Encanta (2007) and bloodroot (2015), both from Dancing Girl Press. She won the 2014 Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Performance Writing and has held residency fellowships from Cave Canem, Squaw Valley Community of Writers and the Norman Mailer Center in Provincetown. Since 2008, she has curated the annual reading series Courting Risk, which focuses particularly on women and LGBTIQ writers working in multiple genres. She currently works as an editor for a finance company and serves as board chair for the feminist publisher Kore Press.
In this brief (as in a legal summation) Khadijah Queen revives the political absurdist experimentalism of Adrienne Kennedy, pushing drama to the limits of genre. Objects, ideas, and human body parts are driven to the same ontological plane, precisely the post-human condition in which we find ourselves: teetering at the boundaries of epistemology. Non-Sequitur is conceptual writing with concentrated vengeance; it bristles, trembling with a rage barely contained by Queen’s laconic rhetoric and pin-point intelligence.
Khadijah Queen’s Non-Sequitur stages the deleted scenes and invisible screens infusing our social relations. Its evolving chorus explodes every imaginable form of address, every fraction of personal and public history until nothing of the illusion of neutrality remains. Each dissonant encounter invents a forum for another nest of questions. This nexus stings.
Prodigiously populated theater energized by a rotating cast of intense who dis, who dat and whosoevers: 40% Discount, Morning Stubble, Habitual Justifier, the Charlie Horse Optimist, among others, who if we don’t know by name we know them by their catastrophes and desperate hopes. Comedy and calamity spin briskly in the mix, trading lines in duets, trios and quartets. Attention, attention. This is the back of your mind, emerging full blown from a swallowed dream. Here.
Khadijah Queen’s ingenious Non-Sequitur crashes the contemporary moment—a glut in bloated celebrity, wild brutality, status quo identity mongering. This cutting and finely attuned play features single-line-slinging speakers, often as object, artifact, consequence (i.e. THE BENT BUSINESS CARD, THE HAND-ME-DOWN PINKING SHEERS, THE BLONDE INSTITUTION) who/that ‘can sense your violent thoughts.’ Queen’s complex manifestations of race, sex, and desire rearrange bodies and material lives where ‘beauty behave[s] as a whip,’ animating perception and perspective into an ever surprising mix of the theater of the absurd and a febrile cultural unconscious, replete with deleted scenes, characters, and contradiction as illumination, like when THE HAPPY SINGLE reports: ‘I’m so ex-cited cuz I…ain’t a-bout it, hey heeeeyyyyyy!’
SETTING: A dinner party. Each player has a wine glass or champagne flute. Various snacks on the table. (PLAYERS enter from downstage right and line up in a loose circle center stage)
THE ROCK KICKER (singing Faith Evans mournfully, rocking to imagined beat) You used to love me every day, hmmm-hmmm love has gone away…
THE SHIT TALKER (smoking hookah) Congratulations! You didn’t slap the person who told you that shit.
THE MATHEMATICIAN It’s a microbe trick. I made up an equation.
THE ROCK KICKER Can’t you hear me… hmmm-hmmm-hmmm… not what love’s about…
THE SHIT TALKER Oranges don’t come from apple trees.
THE MATHEMATICIAN (takes off glasses, cleans them slowly with a soft cloth)
THE ROCK KICKER You let me walk around… hmmm-hmmm… it’s all right… to let me down – (pause for a choir of pre-rehearsed members of audience to sing the refrain: “I remember / the way / you used / to love / me”)
THE SHIT TALKER Amen! Praise Barack! (several pre-rehearsed members of the audience also shout, “Praise him!”)
THE MATHEMATICIAN (takes out a huge calculator, starts furiously making calculations) (Lights fade, PLAYERS exeunt)