In the village of Affreakah-Amirrorkah, no one questions that Akim is the one true, perfect beauty — not even her jealous classmates. But they’ll be damned before they let her be the leading lady in this story. A decidedly contemporary riff on a West African fable, Tori Sampson’s explosive epic is brimming with live music and dance, as these frenemies jockey for their rank in a culture built on ideals forever out of reach.
Playwrights Horizons- February 15-March 31 2019
Ms. Sampson makes a contemporary fable about the black female body and its discontents. She also makes an auspicious professional playwriting debut; Ms. Sampson uses a refreshing palette of theatrical colors to fill in the story.
- Jesse Green, The New York Times
A story playwright Sampson cleverly tells by placing it in Affreakah-Amirrorikah, a land, not unlike America, where racism can, in the worst circumstances, turn in on itself.
- David Finkle, New York Stage Review
Sampson’s script plays like it’s sledding on a steep hill: You can feel the speed, the writer’s whizzing wit, the swift adjustments in tone and direction; If Pretty Hurts is both exciting and crushing; it contains a sense of danger. That’s the combined effect of the music, the production and Sampson’s play: It's the feeling of being barraged by talent, all of it at full flood.
- Helen Shaw, Time Out
[Sampson's] voice is really cool and imaginative, creating a play that pulsates with contemporary vernacular and old-school theatricality; The ultimate message of the play couldn't be more important.
- David Gordon, Theatre Mania
Great Plains Theater Conference, Yale School of Drama
• Susan Smith Blackburn Prize; Finalist
• Kilroys List 2017
• Kennedy Center's Paula Vogel playwright prize
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