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"What's Murder Got to Do with It?": A Black Man's Quest For Love

  • Author(s): Clark, Xavier Burak
  • Advisor(s): Robichaux, Richard
  • et al.


“What’s Murder Got to Do with It?”: A Black Man’s Quest for Love


Xavier Clark

Master of Fine Arts in Theatre and Dance (Acting)

University of California San Diego, 2020

Professor Richard Robichaux, Chair

In scene eighteen of Christina Anderson’s play Man in Love, Paul Pare Jr., a twenty-five-year-old African American librarian, has a full-on conversation with the dead body of a woman he has just murdered. He begins to rummage through the victim’s belongings and stumbles across her wedding ring. In observing the wedding ring, he says, “I wish I loved somebody this much.” This brief, private moment was the a-ha moment for me, as an actor, where I felt I had unlocked the most vulnerable parts of this character, a character who on the page can easily be taken as a stereotypical monster. It was in the distance between his acts of murder and his reveal of how, just like all humans, he wants to fall in love, that I discovered a soul connection between myself and Paul Pare Jr. After that, Paul Pare Jr.’s journey became one that was a quest for love in all the wrong ways, rather than a sadistic serial killer with unpacked childhood trauma.

In working on developing Paul Pare Jr.’s character, I watched interviews with notorious serial killers; Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Ed Kemper, and what struck me was realizing how they didn’t look, act, or sound any different than folks in my inner circle. They were all incredibly intelligent, articulate and charming. There wasn’t a series of physically identifiable personality traits for me to potentially wear as a mask in portraying Paul Pare Jr., but what they did have in common was a deeply rooted desire to love and possess other humans and their bodies. This discovery, combined with my a-ha moment when reading scene eighteen, allowed for me to bring my full self to the table in portraying Paul Pare Jr. and utilize my artistic tools that I’ve gained from the classroom to stand in my truth as a Black man on a quest for love.

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