Tarell Alvin McCraney was raised in the rat-infested Miami projects in what he refers to as a third world country. He calls it “The Other America. The America that doesn’t always get depicted in the cinema.” The creation of THE BROTHER/SISTER PLAYS (the trilogy of plays that includes THE BROTHERS SIZE along with IN THE RED AND BROWN WATER and MARCUS; OR THE SECRET OF SWEET) was his contribution to give a voice to the untold stories of this America. He uses theater, Yoruban mythology, and African-American spiritual rituals to breathe life into his characters. He mixes in lore and theatrical devices to make the stories old and new.

“I began taking old stories from the canon of the Yoruba and splicing them, placing them down in a mythological housing project in the South,” said McCraney in an interview. “The ritual onstage is taking these very old stories, archetypes, myths, and even rumors, and playing them out with new voices, new bodies, set in new and present times.”

The character names in THE BROTHERS SIZE invoke Yoruba “orishas,” or deities: Ogun is the god of iron-working, the patron deity of all those who use metal in their occupations. Oshoosi is the divine hunter associated with the human struggle for survival – cunning, intelligent and cautious. Elegba is the guardian of the crossroads of life, but is also well known for being the orisha of chaos and trickery who leads mortals into temptation.

Oya: orisha of the Niger River, wind and storms, one of Shango’s wives

Elegba/Elegua/Eshu: orisha of the crossroads, messenger of the gods, trickster, shape-shifter (Marcus Eshu)

Yemoja: orisha of the oceans, mother goddess (Mama Moja)

Shango: orisha of the thunderbolt, dispenser of justice

Ogun: orisha of war and iron

Shun: orisha of the Oshun River, the most beautiful of Shango’s wives

Egungun: the collective spirit of ancestors

Oshoosi: orisha of the hunter, the tracker, the wanderer

Oba: orisha of marriage and domesticity