Filming Native: Systemic Racism, Richard Wright and Paul Green
Native details the metamorphic debate between Paul Green and Richard Wright. The authors are originally brought together by the Mercury Theatre to adapt Wright’s novel, Native Son, for the stage. Green, a white southern professor who advocates for social justice, and Wright, a self-educated African-American with communist sympathies, forge a deep respect for each other as they discuss systemic discrimination against African-Americans. They start their collaboration in Chapel Hill, North Carolina like a “house on fire.”
Then, in 1941, with World War II on the horizon, the two authors meet again in New York for rewrites. Orson Welles’ Broadway production is already in rehearsal. Differences over a single page of the script create an impasse between Green and Wright. A life-changing dialogue about who has the right to tell the story of racial, political and class injustice ensues. In spite of their common goal to affect social change, the scintillating argument dissolves the friendship of the two influential social justice authors.
The film version of Native is based on the stage play by Ian Finley & EbzB Productions.