Yolande’s Yard: Too Late at the Poet’s Den

NB photoBy Yolande Brener

In the late ‘90’s, playwright Nigel Barto noticed that a lot of people wanted to tell him their stories, and a lot of these stories were about absent fathers.

“I would always think if only their dad could hear about this,” said Barto.  “If their dad understood what they felt.  So that compelled me to write about it. So I wanted to have a shocking way for us to stand up and look at that. Then I created a family around that and now we have “Too Late.”


“Too Late” is about an African American family in Maryland who are struggling and coming to grips with the youngest man in the family committing suicide.  One of the son’s problems was that his father had spent about ten years out of the family.  The son left behind many letters he wrote to his father but didn’t send, and the family’s lawyer passes these on to the father.  When the father returns for the funeral, many other issues within the family are revealed.


At a recent reading of the play, I was impressed by the actors’ passion.  19-year-old James Egbuta as the son expressed the confusion of a depressed boy who would rather feel than be numb.  And Robert Starks, as the father, cried real tears when he spoke of his regrets.  There is also some humor with an aunt who likes to drink too much and a libidinous lawyer who craves attention.

toolatestageBarto chose the Poet’s Den in East Harlem because his first love is poetry, it’s a “beautiful” theater and he had his eye on “wonderful” Harlem.  “Too Late” will premiere on July 16 for 5 nights.

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"We re-imagine, recreate, and redeem cultural omissions and misrepresentations of Blackness, for the culture. ...." This post is made in partnership with British Pathé.

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