The Messiah Complex

THE MESSIAH COMPLEX, A New Play by Nia Witherspoon
Directed by Shayok Misha Chowdury
Choreography by Ni'Ja Whitson

Produced by the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival, hosted by HERE Arts Center, New York, NY

Performance: April 5, 2014

The Messiah Complex is a play that meditates on the temporal crisis of black and queer diasporas. Music is DJ Messiah's escape into the now with no pasts-- or so she thought. The nightclub where she works is a crossroads of the living and the dead. Or maybe the ghosts are just hallucinations from the toxic waste dumped there. Set to the beats of a live DJ, The Messiah Complex explores the queer secrets buried in the tapestries of black urban life in the post-nationalist era. Through confronting her own violent ghosts, DJ Messiah must come into her purpose"”to finish the revolution her Panther parents had started in the 70s. Amidst the backdrop of a crack-infested industrial wasteland, the characters of West-African mythologies emerge, villains and heroes blur, and being saved is all that matters.

We have a big vision for Messiah. We see it on big stages, sparking dialogue in the nation about the country we have inherited, the cities that hold it up, the people whose stories often remain unmemorialized, and the responsibilities of the living to the dead.

The completed script of The Messiah Complex has been the result of a number of years of work. Nia began the script in Stanford's PhD program under the wise mentorship of award-winning writer Cherríe Moraga; she continued professionally with artist residencies in San Francisco (The Garage and one at Intersection for the Arts); a table reading as part of the Bridal Salon series at The Painted Bride in Philadelphia; and workshop productions/excerpts in Black Women: State of the Union (Company of Angels, February 2008) and the National Queer Arts Festival (The Garage, 2010). The Messiah Complex is finally at the place where it is ready to be exhibited as an entire play (2 Acts, 85 pages). We envision the performance at HERE as a showcase for potential producers to pick up the piece, hence the effort put into curating an enormously talented cast, along with award-winning choreographer Ni'Ja Whitson, that we imagine will travel with the piece to larger venues/runs in the future. We will be inviting critics and producers to witness the work in order to garner opportunities for further production.

As The Messiah Complex enters the final stages of development, we are requesting financial support to manifest the piece, complete with a budget for the set and costumes, and modest stipends for the production and creative teams. We are working with professional artists committed to their crafts who are crucial to the continued development of new work for the theatre, and we do not take their labor lightly. If you were moved by anything you just saw or read, we hope you consider contributing to this exciting project.

--The Messiah Complex Creative Team

  • alisha gaines 
    • $100 
    • 86 mos
  • Sharon Omi Bridgforth Jones 
    • $25 
    • 86 mos
  • Derrika Hunt 
    • $25 
    • 86 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $10 
    • 86 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 86 mos
See all


Nia Witherspoon 
Tallahassee, FL
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