Kathy Y. Wilson Speaks Her Truth

A revamped Your Negro Tour Guide, coadapted from Wilson’s former CityBeat column, premieres at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati this month. 

A revamped play version of Your Negro Tour Guide—coadapted from Kathy Y. Wilson’s former CityBeat column—is being performed at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati through May 7.

Photograph by Tony Walsh

Why did you want to revamp Your Negro Tour Guide?

The play is a piece that needs and demands remixing, regardless of whether it’s being produced and performed. I constantly write and rewrite scenes. Cultural references change by the second, so it forces me to know what’s the what and make changes in the play accordingly. As America and the world burn brighter as the dumpster fire they are, this play is like a mood ring and a mirror.

What’s different about the play for you since it was last performed locally?

Jeff [Griffin], Torie [Wiggins], and I are all older, wiser, and more experienced, so the production will move differently this time. Most importantly, ETC is giving us the honor of putting us in its regular season schedule, so the funding is better and all the bells and whistles will ring and whistle.

How do you feel you have changed the spaces that you’re a part of over the years and what do you think that change has meant?

I am unsure if I’ve changed any spaces. Frankly, I’m always surprised when folks call on me for inclusion in anything because I rarely have had my hand raised in class. The spaces I’ve been in have changed me. After the writer-in-residence from the Library Foundation, the Sachs Fund recognized me. Then there was the Sanctuary installation at the Weston. Then I was honored in the ArtsWave book about women in the arts in Cincinnati. Those things came after decades of writing in the wilderness alone. My spaces are mainly lonely; however, one I will take credit for changing is the college classroom. My former UC journalism students have told me directly I was the first teacher who was honest with them and who treated them like adults. Now that is a space changer.

How do you think your work will be remembered?

Probably as raucous, verbose, angry, honest, hilarious, necessary, thoughtful, loving, and just good. I pride myself on the craft of crafting sentences. It kills me but I do labor. I’m far back in the woodshed right now.

How do you want to be remembered?

I just want to be remembered. Aren’t I memorable?

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