I'm a De Niro fan. I went eleven years without seeing a movie; the last one before that, February 1980, was De Niro and Scorsese in 'Raging Bull,' and when I went back, it was 'Cape Fear,' with De Niro and Scorsese. I picked up right where I left off at.
I think all in all, one thing a lot of plays seem to be saying is that we need to, as black Americans, to make a connection with our past in order to determine the kind of future we're going to have. In other words, we simply need to know who we are in relation to our historical presence in America.
All you need in the world is love and laughter. That's all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other.
I had always been fascinated with Napoleon because he was a self-made emperor; Victor Hugo said, 'Napoleon's will to power,' and it was the title of my paper. And I submitted it to my teacher, and he didn't think I had written it. And he wanted me to explain it to him.
All art is political in the sense that it serves someone's politics.
From Romare Bearden I learned that the fullness and richness of everyday life can be rendered without compromise or sentimentality.
I don't write for a particular audience. I work as an artist, and I think the audience of one, which is the self, and I have to satisfy myself as an artist. So I always say that I write for the same people that Picasso painted for. I think he painted for himself.
The blues are important primarily because they contain the cultural expression and the cultural response to blacks in America and to the situation that they find themselves in. And contained in the blues is a philosophical system at work. And as part of the oral tradition, this is a way of passing along information.
I dropped out of school when I was 15 years old. I dropped out because I guess I wasn't getting anything out of my investment in the school.
Blacks have traditionally had to operate in a situation where whites have set themselves up as the custodians of the black experience.
I don't look at our society today too much. My focus is still in the past, and part of the reason is because what I do - the wellspring of art, or what I do - l get from the blues. So I listen to the music of a particular period that I'm working on, and I think inside the music is clues to what is happening with the people.
My influences have been what I call my four Bs - the primary one being the blues, then Borges, Baraka, and Bearden.
For me, the original play becomes an historical document: This is where I was when I wrote it, and I have to move on now to something else.
I write for myself, and my goal is bringing that world and that experience of black Americans to life on the stage and giving it a space there.
From Borges, those wonderful gaucho stories from which I learned that you can be specific as to a time and place and culture and still have the work resonate with the universal themes of love, honor, duty, betrayal, etc. From Amiri Baraka, I learned that all art is political, although I don't write political plays.
I don't write particularly to effect social change. I believe writing can do that, but that's not why I write.
A novelist writes a novel, and people read it. But reading is a solitary act. While it may elicit a varied and personal response, the communal nature of the audience is like having five hundred people read your novel and respond to it at the same time. I find that thrilling.
I work as an artist, and I think the audience of one, which is the self, and I have to satisfy myself as an artist. So I always say that I write for the same people that Picasso painted for. I think he painted for himself.
As soon as white folks say a play's good, the theater is jammed with blacks and whites.
I've never seen 'Seinfeld', never seen 'The Cosby Show'; I just don't watch it. I saw half of 'Oprah' one time. I'd rather read.