In 2016, Philly playwright Kash Goins took a look at the human costs of mass incarceration in his nuanced, intimate original drama V to X (five to ten). For ten years, Goins produced this and other work under the auspices of own production company, GoKash OnSTAGE. For his follow-up, Seventy Four Seconds… to judgment the playwright takes advantage of his new residence at Arden Theatre Company
Seventy Four Seconds… to judgment is a direct response to the killing of motorist Philando Castile by officer, Jeronimo Yanez in July 2016. Like millions others, Goins, and millions others were lured into the instant horror of this tragedy by Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, who streamed the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Facebook.
When determining if a defendant is guilty of murder, jurors are instructed to restrict conviction in situations where “heat of the moment” decisions may play a part. Evidence considered by the jury before returning a not guilty verdict included this footage and the official police video of the full seventy-four second encounter between Castile and Yanez.
Two questions emerged prominently for Goins. What ideas do two strangers bring with them into a short encounter that could lead to a quick decision to murder? What ideas do jurors bring when trying a murder that’s presumably decided in an instant?
With his GoKash productions, Goins displayed an ability to explore the human side of larger political questions. His characters aren’t ciphers used to make a didactic point, but real people affected by the real world. While the company produced these striking original works and all-black versions of American classics, Goins was working as an actor at the Arden. Arden artistic director Terry Nolen got to know him in stagings of A Raisin in the Sun and Two Trains Running.
“I saw GoKash’s production of V to X in 2016 and was really excited by the work,” says Nolen. “Kash and I started talking about how we might work together and out of that came this idea of a residency.” Reflecting upon Arden’s ambitious beginning, and Walnut Street Theatre’s similar extension of support, Nolen recalled “The residency provided to us by the Walnut is one of the reasons the Arden established itself here in Philadelphia.”
Let’s hope the residency establishes Goins in his rightful place among the finest of Philly playwrights.
[Arden Theatre, 40 N. 2nd Street] September 6-24, 2017; gokashonstage.com