Smooth Criminal

Aaron’s parents are raising him to be an underdog superhero: Anti-Racism Boy! The nerdy urban kid grows up desperate to liberate his people – as soon as he can figure out who they are. After spending years talking smack about privileged white males, Aaron investigates whether he may, in fact, be one of them. Based on the playwright’s almost-entirely-true-but-don’t-fact-check-with-his-parents life story, Smooth Criminal bumps and grinds a country’s race and class issues with Aaron’s own.

In the early part of the 20th century, Aaron’s immigrant great-grandfather was dying in prison for trying to murder the foreman who denied him work – at the same time that his other great-grandfather was running the country’s largest banking empire. A century later, as their ghosts mud-wrestle in Aaron's body, he tries to eliminate racism by having sex, by getting down with the immigrants, by watergunning Yalies, but ultimately must follow the money (and the white race) to its source – and excavate the buried story of the two sides of his family.


a hip-hop play by Aaron Jafferis

commissioned by yo mama

“candid, intimate, and even funny,

charging at systemic racism with a very sharp and incisive sword

and coming out victorious, but not without lots of pointed questions,

and enough baggage to shoulder all of them... It’s this sense of curiosity

and experiment in Jafferis the actor and Jafferis the person, often met with unflinching honesty and self-discovery, that takes the work from an interesting think piece on wealth- and race-based systems of oppression to something urgent, something that New Haven (and many cities around the country) arguably needs right now. Jafferis isn’t just painting pictures for his audience, he’s urging it to start talking about something messy and difficult, and using himself as a sort of patient zero.”

-Lucy Gellman, The Arts Paper