DAPHNE: Do you know what self-immolation means? (Silence) Do you know what self-immolation means?
(Daphne pulls a newspaper clipping from her purse)
UPenn did a little write-up.RUBY: Get that paper out of my face. Speak.DAPHNE: Tuesday, at the LOVE statue. Jenn poured gasoline over her head, lit a match, and started dancing. A few people tried to douse the flames but she went quickly.
Not all that takes place in “Daphne’s Dive” strikes me as entirely credible — or free of a sprinkling of sentimentality. The fate of Jenn, for example, who dies in spectacular circumstances midway through the play, seems a little contrived. Acosta’s rise from businessman to powerful local politician, on the other hand, is more persuasive.
PABLO: Jenn was not a hero.
RUBY: Yes she was.
PABLO: No, Ruby
DAPHNE: She was sick/She needed treatment.
...there are places where the Author’s voice goes mawkish and her prose crosses that often untraceable line between lyricism and purpleness.
I struggle increasingly with the atheist white male aesthetics I inherit. These include:
- That love is dead, romance is transactional, and sex is not a source of pleasure but a race to the bottom.
- That children hate their parents and vice versa. The suggestion of familial love implies idiocy on the part of the playwright.
- That wealth is either neutral or a hardship to the wealthy.
- Regarding God: You’re kidding, right?
- Joy is sentimental, harmony a falsehood. Harming others is the single human truth.
- Genius is a male attribute. Intuition is a female attribute.
They left me two options that night in the living room. Be white or be Puerto Rican. Their rules, they forced my hand. Fine. My heels dug further into North Philly. My soul took a side that lasts to this day.
Some of those initial molecules, for me, in this play was someone I knew growing up named Kathy Change—I knew her as Kathy Chang, she changed her name later—who was a kind of activist and performance artist and I admired her. Many people didn’t like her and thought she was a nuisance. There was something about her that fascinated me—how did she do what she did? She went out to these Philadelphia street corners and danced and waved these flags with her ideals, and I thought that was fascinating.
- A memorial is held in her honor every year on October 22 at the peace sign sculpture on the University of Pennsylvania campus where Kathy died. The memorial attracts artists, activists and performers, among others.
- Percussionist/composer Kevin Norton wrote a suite for Kathy Change entitled Change Dance (Troubled Energy) in 2001 and was released late in 2001/early 2002 on the Barking Hoop label.
- Industrial metal band Fear Factory wrote the song "Slave Labor" referring to her suicide; it was included in the 2004 album Archetype.
- Drummer Tyshawn Sorey composed and performed "For Kathy Change," a quintet in her honor, in March 2011.
- Soomi Kim wrote and performed in the biographical play "Chang(e)", directed by Suzi Takahashi, which premiered in 2013 and has had multiple performances since then, including New York City and Portland, Oregon.
- Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes's 2016 play "Daphne's Dive," based in Philadelphia, features a character closely resembling Kathy Change. The play is dedicated "in memory: Kathy Chang(e)."
- Actor (and writer) Shin-Fei Chen portrays "Peace Activist Kathy Change" in Andrew Repasky McElhinney’s 2019 film Casual Encounters: Philadelphia True Crime Confessions. Her scenes were shot on 35mm Kodak film, September 2018 in West Philadelphia.