Mama, from Charm, by Philip Dawkins

MAMA. (black trans woman) Good Evening. [Pauses. She’ll wait for a response.  Once she gets it:] Oh thank you, yes good evening.  I’m so glad to see all of you here tonight. You. Look. Beautiful. My name is Miss Darleena Andrews. You may call me Miss Andrews. You may call me Miss Darleena.  But most people just call me Mama Darlin.  And I like that. I am so lookin’ forward to getting’ to know each and every one of you.But before we get started, there is one thing I need to make perfectly clear and that is, I have zero interest in lookin’ at your butt crack.  So, young men, I want you to look down at your lap, if you would for me please. If you are wearin’ pants with a waistband that is somewhere down around your knees, I want you to stand up.  [She waits a hot second, then with teacher voice.]  Stand Up!  Ladies, do me a favor, look at the man seated beside you.  If you can see his underpants, make him stand up.  Ooo, and ladies, you too.  If you got your nekkid behind hangin’ out the back of your pants, nobody wants to see that, either. And I’ll tell you now, the people on the street who do want to see that are not the people you want seein’ it.  So, do yourselves a favor and stand up. Now, grab your pants and lift them allll the way up above your waist.  For those of you who need help locatin’ your waist, it is that area just below your bellybutton.  I should see no Organ Trail coming up from your fly.  Once you have pulled your pant alllll the way up, tighten that belt.  Real tight.  And be seated. There. Don’t you feel like a whole new you?  Instead of someone ho you knew? Alright. Now that’s out of the way, Welcome to Charm!




Context: Charm depicts the colorful inner workings of an etiquette class taught by Mama Darleena Andrews, an African-American transgender woman, in an LGBTQ organization known as The Center. Despite her students’ daily battles with identity, poverty and prejudice, Mama’s powerful love and unapologetic attitude ultimately help her pupils find a new way to respect each other and to redefine what “having charm” means. Inspired by the true story of Miss Gloria Allen and her work at Center on Halsted, this new play carries a message of dignity and inclusion to all those it touches.

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