House Seats


Fire This Time Festival: If Men Were Flowers

"If Men Were Flowers" is playwright Jay Mazyck's meditation on a different, softer side of masculinity. Three vibrant flowers notice their landscape is changing and look to Dalia, who tends to them, for answers to this threat to their livelihood. Filmed at the Fire This Time Festival at The Kraine Theater.

AIRED: July 27, 2020 | 0:13:10


Man: Can you come a little bit stage right?

Man #2: Places, everyone.

My name is Jay Mazyck,

and the name of my piece is "If Men Were Flowers."

I really wanted to sort of investigate

how black men live like right now.

So I really tried to take

a couple stereotypes of black men

and see how they can all cohabitate the same space

and how they all react to grief,

because I do think

there is this really nice comradery amongst men.

And I wanted to shine a light on masculinity

that wasn't necessarily completely bad,

because I know we always refer to masculinity as being toxic.

So I just want to try a different take on it.

[ Birds singing ]

[ Man snoring ]

[ Man yawning sleepily ]

Woman: Hey.

♪ Rise ♪

♪ Shine ♪

♪ Give God the glory ♪

[ Woman laughs ]

♪ Rise, shine ♪

♪ Give God the glory ♪

♪ Rise, shine ♪

♪ Give -- ♪ Can you shut the hell up?

Who do you think you are talking to?

You, oldie. Oh, just let him live.

No! It ain't fair

the first thing my leaves got to feel in the morning

is his hot-ass breath.

My wind smells like peppermint.

It smells like shit, just like your singing.

That's not fair. You know what isn't fair?

Oh, here we go.

Brother Malcolm was taken,

captured out of his pot last week

without a warrant or a fair trial.

Bitch, Malcolm was as dry as your roots.

Ah-ah! [ Hisses ] Malcolm was young.

So young. I am telling you, it is a conspiracy

to wipe the color green off this earth.

Well, if theyare getting rid of us,

I hope they take Thick Trunk over here

and make him into a picnic table.

Listen to me, boy.

I've been here long before your seeds were even planted.

I've seen the seasons grow shorter.

I've seen more boys die than you can count.

And I am not fat.

I am just thick-ringed.

[ Laughs ]


The only reason why you still here

is 'cause Dalia ain't got to water you every day

and you too hard to cut.

You sound really salty this morning, Terrence.

Well, damn right, I am.

I gotta wake up to Donnie McClurkin

yelling at my petals every morning.

Oh, you really think I sound like Donnie McClurkin?

He should be angry.

How many of us have to be uprooted

before we start to realize that we are in danger?

Just last week, I heard rumblings.

Boy, we live in Cali. That was probably an earthquake.

That was my ancestors speaking to me,

telling me to warn my brothers.

They should have told you to wash your stem.

I am serious.

Malcolm wasn't the first boy to be uprooted.

Look around.

Notice anything?

Nah. Nothing up here.

Oh, he's right, y'all.

Where? Look.

Charlene just planted some lavenders,

and that one's looking kind of tall.

What are you doing?

Nigga, it's cross-pollinating season.

I'm trying to catch me a man.

I --

I am not talking about Charlene's plants, imbeciles.

There used to be dozens of us.

We ruled these grounds.

Now look around. Only but us four left?

Well, actually, now that I think about it,

she hasn't been as joyful as she usually is.

Exactly. Oh, please.

We're here because we're the strongest one out the bunch.

Them other boys just couldn't handle it,

always drying up and leaving dead things everywhere.

They grew old. 'Member, Dalia told us old things wither.

Malcolm wasn't old, though. He was younger than all of us.

Speak for yourself.

He was drying up just like the oldies.

He wasn't no old thing, though.

I should know. I shared water off my leaves to that boy.

Ew. I think we should march.

We're plants. Well, we should protest.

I think all that manure's getting to your petals.

What if Shakir is right? I'm too young to be deflowered.

Oh, please. You got enough pollen on you

to kill a 12-year-old. I never.

Alright. I'll say. Just stop the violence.

What are you talking about?

Oh, the Lord has given me many blessings in my lifetime.

He has blessed me with height, girth,

strong branches, good roots.

Oh, my -- my bark doesn't peel like the Jeffersons --

Get on with it, oldie.

Last night, I saw...

Dalia crying in the kitchen.

That was her screaming like that?

I thought they were just doing construction.

Why you ain't tell us nothin'?

All that tallness and foresight, and you ain't think to tell us?

Ain't that lyin', Reverend?

It's omitting the truth.

I know it's wrong, but I wanted to protect you.

From what? Knowledge of your own demise.

You think she's getting rid of us.

I'm afraid so, little one.

So you wanted that to be a surprise?

I have to agree with Terrence on this.

You should have said something.

She's mourning for us.

Instead of crying,

she should be stockpiling better soil.

Maybe her plants wouldn't be dry-coughing and dying

if she gave us good-quality soil.

Shut up, Terrence. Dalia's doing her best.

Her best is killing us.

You all, there is also something else.

So last night, I saw her talking to a man named Michael.

A man? [ Chuckles ] Oh!

Okay, sis, I see you!

He was a white fella, and --

Uh, no! We have to help her.


From what?

I say let her be. I mean, it's been years

since anyone has tended to her garden.

Come on. We've been her only male company.

A white man named Michael? [ Clicks tongue ]

It just does not sit right with me.

I agree with Malcolm X.

What if this Michael guy is making her get rid of us

'cause he's jealous

she be out here in her drawers rubbin' up on us

instead of waterin' his stem?

She's not getting rid of us over some white man.

I mean...look at us.

Maybe she's keeping just us.

♪ And she threw all the basic blossoms away ♪

You all, I believe they are getting married.

To the white man?! [ Gasps ]


I saw a ringand a kiss.


What you "aww"ing for? She replacin' us.

Her being in love with that white man

has nothing to do with us dying.

It is the ancestors.

Mm, they have heard the news, and they have soiled her crops.

We are paying for our mother's sins.

Shut up! Shut up.

Oh, shit. Here she comes.

-Hey, babies! -Hey, bad wench.

-What up, doe? -Hey, queen.

Uh, Mama has something to tell y'all.

You are leaving us for a white man.

What?! Um, he said

that you look, like, really good in white.

Like, it, like, really brings out your skin color.

Like, me personally, I see you in a lot of white fabric,

maybe some lace, a veil, a dress.

A true bride.

Damn, y'all want to write her vows for her, too?

Vows? We know you are marrying

the enemy, Dalia.

What?! I'm not marrying anybody.

Please don't insult our intelligence.

We saw you booed up with Ryan Reynolds

through the window.

You're getting rid of us.

For Lucifer.

He's not Lucifer. He's my Realtor.

Ah-ah! You fucking your Realtor, girl?!

We are not fucking.

But I saw a ring.

What about the ring?

Did you happen to see keys on that ring?

No. No, I did not.

What about the kiss?

Are you his mistress?

That kiss was a thank you for helping me find a new place.

Mm, you are leaving us.

Please don't leave me here, Miss Dalia.

I can't be stuck here with these sociopaths.

They drive me crazy.

The fat one sings off-key every morning,

the gay one is a whore, and the Hotep keeps

screaming Negro conspiracies like they work songs.

I-I'm not leaving either one of y'all.

I just had to find a new place

because we -- What happened to Malcolm?

And Oscar and Tamir?

They don't get to see the promised land?

Well, they died, Shakir.

They were young, though.

Young things die sometimes.

Look, this dirt isn't getting any better.

It -- It's too dry. Maybe the sun is too hot or...

a germ colonized it.

But it's salted, and it's no place for a plant to be.

So I got us a new place

where the sun is a little less bright

and the soil is nice and soft,

where no germ will ever touch us again,

and maybe life can continue on like it always has.

But we got to go before this earth take all of y'all

because -- Mm, so what about me?



Who's going to move me?

You're -- You're -- You're --

You're strong enough to stay. But they -- they got to go.

I-I appreciate you. I really appreciate you.

It's just that you -- I get it. Mm-hmm.

Your roots run too deep.

♪ Too deep ♪

But I got us a-a new place,

and -- and you should see it. I-I got pots and new soil

and it's fresh.

Child, you should see this new place.

It's got wood paneling

and a nice, cool swing.

Maybe I could put one of y'all in it.

I'm not leaving Lee.

We don't have much of a choice, Shakir. We --

I'm not leaving Lee. Come on, man. Don't be dumb.

You heard what she said. It's either we leave and live

or stay and die. Die? [ Laughs ]

Well, that is inevitable. Plants die.

People die.

What isn't inevitable is loneliness.

And I choose to die next to my brother.

Oh, Lord, here we go with this Green Panther bullshit.

Fine. I hope the germs have a feast on your guts.

As for me, I'm getting a first-class ticket

out of this fucked-up-ass garden,

and I'm-a be living my best life

in some dark-ass, wet-ass soil.

You coming with me, Dante?

Dante! Yeah. Yeah. I'm coming with you.

Are you sure you want to stay?

You should go, Shakir.

I'm strong enough to sustain.

But, son, you will die standing next to me.

Then I will die in the same soil as my brother.

Mm. [ Chuckles ]


Come on, y'all. Say goodbye.


Bye, Lee. Bye, Shakir.

I'm-a miss y'all.

Good riddance. Nigga, act right.

Damn. Okay.

Bye, y'all. I'm-a miss y'all. I guess.

Goodbye, my brothers.

I'll see you soon.

Shit. Wait!

Uh, Lee.


Uh, let me, uh --

Let me hear that song one last time.

Of course.

♪ Rise, shine ♪

♪ Give God the glory ♪

♪ Rise, shine ♪

♪ Give God the glory ♪

♪ Rise, shine ♪

♪ Give God the glory ♪

[ Applause ]





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