Lisa Marie Rollins is a skilled and powerful performer, poet and playwright.

Adopted in the 1970s, she was the only child of color in her parent’s white world. Rollins’ insights about growing up as a trans-racial adoptee bring her story of love, anger and loss alive while exploring race, culture, and identity in adoption.

Confused and isolated, she struggled to make sense of her identity while her well-intentioned adoptive parents try to sidestep the challenges that trans-racial adoptees face. Rollins’ parents told her that she was of Filipino, Mexican and Irish heritage, but she was not told that she was black. Rollins concludes that withholding her African-American identity must have been a marketing decision by the adoption agency.

In one scene, Rollins stands in front of a heavily redacted projection of the information she got when she started her birth family search. Looking at the blacked out lines is a metaphor of her internal experience: Who am I? Where did I come from? She constructs a time-line of what she knows and realizes that she was in foster care for three months.

“Who was changing me? Who was feeding me? I just want to fill in the blanks.”

In a talk show format that is hysterically sarcastic and revealing, the parents say things like, “We love our daughter despite her race. We would love her if she was purple.” The host-lady remarks with a saccharine grin, “And don’t we all want to live in a world where color does not matter and love is enough?”

This play answers the question: Is love enough to overcome the challenges of being a transracial adoptee? Rollins delivers her truth with depth, humor and a few embers of anger in every bitingly sharp scene.

See “Ungrateful Daughter” because you will be moved, you will laugh hysterically, and you will leave the theater having been richly entertained.


If You Go

Ungrateful Daughter: One Black Girl’s Story of Being Adopted into a White Family. . . that aren’t Celebrities – Written and performed by Lisa Marie Rollins and directed by W. Kamau Bell

When: 8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.) Oct. 6-8

Where: La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berkeley

Details: birthproject.wordpress.com