“Unlike theater, where a piece could spend two years in development before it ever sees the light of day, we did have this ability to have something more immediate,” says Watson, 44.
When George Floyd’s death in late May brought about a national reckoning with systemic racism, Watson and artistic director Ryan Rilette knew “Homebound” had to engage with that dialogue. So the theater adjusted its approach to the final three episodes to ensure each installment was written by black women, with Agyeiwaa Asante, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi and Caleen Sinnette Jennings penning the scripts and Watson and Rilette splitting directing duties.
“When we started this in March, it would have been really interesting if it was 10 episodes about baking bread and sourdough starters and puzzles and whatever,” Watson says. “But that is not what the world has given us. It’s not what the U.S. has given us. The U.S. has given us, in the middle of a global pandemic, the reminder that racism in America doesn’t take a break.”
The result was a trio of stories that examined such topics as allyship, black trans rights and mid-pandemic marching. After the finale dropped earlier this month, viewers can watch all 10 episodes of “Homebound” on Round House’s YouTube page.
As a former history teacher, Watson honors her professions past and present by working both a museum trip and a theater production into her D.C. dream day, which also features plenty of cuisine derived from her native Jamaica.
I would start my day by going to Teaism downtown, getting a chai and heading to Rock Creek Park, because I really do enjoy being outside, and I have not spent enough time there. I’ve only been in the area for two years and there’s so much I haven’t done yet.
Then I would make my way over to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I’ve only gotten to go there once, and I found myself on that day racing through the exhibits on the top floor before they announced the museum was closing, so I definitely would like to spend more time there as well. I think that museum is just such a beautiful and important inclusion to the fabric of this city and this country. There are so many museums where the history of black people has just sort of been words and plates that were created by curators. To go to a museum where they have centered the experience of African Americans, I was so overwhelmed.
Next, there’s this patty shop in Anacostia called Caribbean Citations. I’d go there and get my patty-and-ting fix before seeing a show at Theater Alliance. I’ve just fallen in love with the work they’re doing, and I love that space — because they have flexibility in the way they can rearrange the seats, it feels really transformative.
I have not been to Mahogany Books yet, but I’ve been on their website and shipping books from them. So I’d love to make a trip to their actual bookstore and pick up a few things.
For dinner, I had really, really, really wanted to go to Kith and Kin for my birthday, which was in March and actually was my first day in quarantine, so I would revisit going there. I have been really inspired by the founding chef, Kwame Onwuachi [who announced on July 6 that he’s leaving the restaurant] — I’m reading his memoir, “Notes From a Young Black Chef” — and the menu has all the things I love: jerk chicken, plantains, coconut rice.
I also saw the former pastry chef there, Paola Velez, co-founded Bakers Against Racism. If this is truly a dream day, she’d drop in and I’d ask her to make some special things for me. One of my favorite memories of Jamaica is of a friend who made the most amazing sweet potato pudding, so maybe I would ask her to do that for me.
If we’re really going to go wild, I’d also have to find some ice cream. So I’d head to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, because I really like what they’ve got going on.