‘Ain’t Too Proud’ tells the truthful story of The Temptations

Detroit playwright Dominique Morisseau crafts a narrative that is both entertaining and honest to the group’s experience.

"Ain't Too Proud" showing at the Imperial Theater in Manhattan, NYC.

One of the biggest theater events of the year has landed at the Detroit Opera House. “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations” tells the story of one of the most successful groups to ever come from the Motown label.

It’s told through the eyes of Otis Williams, the last surviving original member of the group, which he helped found in 1960. Williams shared his story with the acclaimed playwright and Detroiter Dominique Morisseau. She sat down with CultureShift to share what it was like working with Williams, getting that story of The Temptations right and how a call for social justice today helped inform how she went about writing this musical.

“You can get all the facts right and the truth wrong. And I’d rather do it the other way around.” — Dominique Morisseau, Detroit playwright

She says she was surprised by Williams’ openness to letting her write about his experiences.

“Otis was very generous. He from the very beginning told me he knew that I would have to take liberty with this story.”

She says this flexibility allowed her to craft a narrative that was both entertaining and honest to his experience.

“I am more obedient to the truth than I am to facts. And the difference is, facts are, ‘Well, it actually happened on Friday, not on Tuesday,’ right? But the truth is the meaning underneath what happened, that you captured the meaning of it. You can get all the facts right and the truth wrong. And I’d rather do it the other way around.”

The musical is being staged at the Opera House now through Aug. 28.

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


Listen: Playwright Dominique Morisseau talks getting the story of The Temptations right.

 

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Author

  • Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.