Set in the early noughties, Hurt Village is the story of a community disregarded by the state. A housing project in North Memphis, originally developed in the 1950s to attract white residents, the area had, by the nineties, become a byword for poverty and drug-related crime. In 2000, the Memphis City government received a $35 million federal grant in order to redevelop the area, and in 2003, the neighbourhood was demolished, following the relocation of hundreds of black residents.
Hurt Village is not just a housing project, it’s a way of life for thirteen-year-old Cookie. Desperate to move her family out of the project, Cookie’s great-grandmother, Big Mama, is waiting on the local government to find them a new homr in suburban Raleigh. When she’s denied aid due to earning slightly over the public assistance maximum, her grandson, Buggy, recently returned from war and suffering from PTSD, renews old acquaintances and plunges the family back into a life of drug-dealing, addiction and gang violence, in order to forge a better life for them somewhere new.
Hurt Village premiered at the Signature Theatre Company, New York City, in 2012. It is the fourth of Katori Hall’s ‘Memphis’ plays.