Rahmell's INFERNO is an autobiographical play written and performed by Rahmell Peebles. When Rahmell was sixteen years old he brought a key chain pocket knife to school. For this, he was given a year of probation and a year-and-a-half school suspension. At that time, Rahmell was also a special education student. Many would have categorized him as an at-risk youth destined for the prison system. Six years later he graduated from the prestigious Morehouse College with an honors degree in Philosophy. His journey from special ed criminal to a special kind of king serves as the core story of Rahmell's INFERNO.
Many African Americans can relate to this impactful tale of educational suppression, systemic oppression, and teenage guilt, fear, and anger. Peebles is shockingly bold in his honesty as he reveals his inner most personal truths while exposing the American system of its intentional flaws, fLaws that essentially sign the black youth up for prison years before a first arrest. However, this play is not merely a vent of one's radical notions, but one instead might call it a new age prophesy.
For like the character "Jesus" in the bible, the character "Rahmell" is often revealing new truths given to him by a higher power. He is also highlighting the psychological damage that has been done by the American religion for over four hundred and fifty years. Interestingly enough, all of these truths and revelations are expressed in solitude while he is trapped in solitary confinement. Members of the audience (angels of the jury) watch and enjoy as Rahmell finds himself in purgatory on judgment day after being confronted by what he believes to be "God" watching over his cell. He will plead his case, and hope that you the jury will do what's necessary at the conclusion of this trial.
Warning: One must take caution in coming to experience this play, for one must be willing to step inside the mind (or cell) of another human being. Previously people have left the theater with severe cases of self confrontation and spiritual activation.
Photographer: M. Scott Johnson
Venue: Schomburg Center's Langston Hughes Auditorium