A young African American man is stopped by the police without clear cause. Again and again and again. The tenth stop leads to entanglements with the courts, jail, and attorneys, with potentially life-changing results. In Spiritrials, addiction, religion, and the law intersect in a court-ordered drug rehabilitation program.
Dahlak Brathwaite’s incisive humor transforms a chilling personal story into a vital performance that layers character-driven storytelling and poetic verse with original songs to create a hybrid hip-hop drama, accompanied by beats from DJ Dion Decibels. A virtuosic and timely exploration of the criminal justice system, Spiritrials chronicles the journey of Brathwaite’s own criminalization along with his struggle to be vindicated and decriminalized in the eyes of the law and society. The piece works through the personal shame of criminal stigmatization to examine the factors—both internal and external—that have misplaced him in what appears to be a cultural rite of passage.