Aug 11

The Work Begins with Empathy: “A Kids Play About Racism”

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre with the Gottabees 
Lead Producers Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Alliance Theatre, and Seattle Children’s Theatre
Adapted & Directed by Kahlia Davis
Lyrics by Davied Morales
Music by Justin Ellington
Based on the book by Jelani Memory
More information at akidsplayabout.org

Streamed through August 7 on Broadway On Demand
Wheelock Family Theatre
Boston, MA 02215
Wheelock on Facebook
The Gottabees on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BROADWAY ON DEMAND — The Wheelock Family Theatre and the Gottabees collaborated with 41 Theaters for Young Audiences across the United States to present the world premiere, online theatrical experience of A Kids Play About Racism.

The Zoom play based on the children’s book A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory explains what racism is on a level that kids of all ages can understand and appreciate. A Kids Play About Racism is intended for ages 5+ but has a lot to offer adults too. It simplifies abstract concepts like white supremacy, microaggressions, Black culture, and emotional labor into digestible nuggets of truth. All viewers will be able to take away something valuable – even if it’s remembering that dismantling racism is strenuous; it’s okay to take a short rest before getting back to work.  Continue reading

Jun 11

#BlackLivesMatter #BIPOCLivesMatter – A Starter Pack for White People

The New England Theatre Geek asserts that Black Lives Matter, BIPOC Lives Matter, Immigrant Lives Matter. 

These lives matter now that it’s popular and convenient for white communities to pledge that they matter.  These lives will continue to matter to us when it’s inconvenient and the Black Lives Matter movement is no longer popular in mainstream journalism. The New England Theatre Geek pledges to widen its activism and remain vigilant. 

Racism isn’t something white people with comfortable lifestyles can solve in a few months during quarantine when we’re all at home anyway with a couple of Twitter posts and a simple website banner (that a Black person made anyway).  Racism is systemic; it is aggressive; it is subverted. Deconstructing systemic racism requires equally aggressive, daily practice, and vigilance.  We pledge ourselves to this daily practice. 

It’s a list. It’s a start that should lead to one’s own personal research.  

Racism is an inherent system that affects everyone existing in society. Perpetuating racism isn’t conscious or explicit; it isn’t rational. You can’t choose to live outside of racism. You can be a “good/nice person” and be racist. Racism is a social reality for all.

White people, you will mess up. You will say and do racist things accidentally. Don’t get defensive. Messing up doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a person. Thank the person of color who corrects you (if you’re lucky enough to have a relationship with someone who will) and keep educating yourself.

Don’t ask Black people to explain race/racism to you. That’s not their job. Not even if they’re your friends/colleagues. Attend a training or workshop. Contact your HR. Read a book. Google it. Read the room.

You can have conversations about race/racism with your Black friends if your relationship is conducive to that dialogue. Ask for consent first. If you don’t know why it’s important to ask for consent, you are not ready to have this conversation with your Black friend/s.

Do have conversations with other white people about whiteness/race. Our skin has a color; it affects the world around us. We need the conversational practice.

Don’t try to be the “cool white person.” BIPOC will not see you that way.

White people love to think that racism is something that only exists in history, that it isn’t something we do now. Racism evolves as people do.

Race might not be real but racism is. It will take your entire life to deconstruct your inherent beliefs about white supremacy. Keep going. 

Happy Pride! 

This conversation continues on Facebook and Twitter. More links and resources are posted there. Twitter: https://twitter.com/netheatregeek
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NewEnglandTheatreGeek/

Jan 17

Calling the Police Over a Picnic:”Pass Over”

Photo by Nile Scott Studios; Lewis D. Wheeler, Kadahj Bennett, Hubens “Bobby” Cius

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Co. with The Front Porch Arts Collective
By Antoinette Nwandu
Directed by Monica White Ndounou
Fight choreography by Brandon G. Green
Movement coaching by Mila Thigpen
Dramaturgy by Pascale Florestal

January 3 – Feb. 2, 2020
Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts
SpeakEasy on Facebook
The Front Porch on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: white guilt, language, fuck the police

(Boston, MA) The sheer volume of what one must understand as true regardless of personal belief in order to not merely understand but thoroughly digest Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over at SpeakEasy Stage is overwhelming. The role that white people play in perpetuating racism’s systemic horrorshow machinations against Black people (and all people of color) is astounding.

Here is a list of links containing basic concepts that could be helpful. 

  • It is not the responsibility of Black people to explain racism or to convince white people that it exists. 
  • Being nice isn’t the same as not being racist. Racist people are nice all of the time. Nice people are racist all the time.
  • Black friends won’t make a white person less racist. Dismantling internalized racism requires a lifetime of work.  
  • It should go without saying that Black people want equality. They don’t want to reverse their treatment at the hands of white people back onto white people. 
  • Racism is about power. Reverse racism doesn’t exist. 
  • White people have to stop taking personally Black resistance to oppression.  
  • All of this information is a Google search away. 

Continue reading

Jan 02

“Two Mile Hollow,” Or White People, We Need to Talk About Colorism

Presented by Apollinaire Theatre Company
Written by Leah Nanako Winkler
Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques

Dec 21, 2018 – Jan 20, 2019
Chelsea Theatre Works
189 Winnisimmet St
Chelsea, MA 02150
Apollinaire Theatre Company on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Chelsea, MA) Thanksgiving day. Generic WASP family, The Donnelly’s, converges on Two Mile Hollow, a family beach house. Younger son, Joshua, and daughter, Mary, are expecting drama with mother Blythe, but none are expecting older son Christopher to bring his “assistant,” Charlotte, especially not an “assistant”…OF COLOR. On this stormy night, secrets are spilled, social hierarchies are upended, and only one may leave with their self-esteem unscathed. Continue reading

Nov 06

It Starts in the Home: “3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show”

Wesley T. Jones, Vienna Carroll, Michael Bryan; Photo credits: David Marshall

Presented by Sleeping Weazel
Conceived and written by James Scruggs
Directed by Mark Rayment

Nov. 3-11, 2017
Nicholas Martin Hall
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Sleeping Weazel on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) 3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show reclaims appropriated Black culture so to spit racism into the faces of oppressors. It’s beautiful and horrifying. Potential audience members please be aware that 3/Fifths’ contains nudity, graphic violence, and the unvarnished, unadulterated truth of what it is to be a Black man in America. Gunshots and police video are used because violence is our legacy and our future. 3/Fifths’ is a mirror showing us who we already are. Continue reading

Mar 29

Larceny in Their Hearts: “TopDog/UnderDog”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
By Suzan-Lori Parks
Directed by Billy Porter

March 10 – April 9, 2017
Avenue of the Arts
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning – gunshots

(Boston, MA) Emasculation is something a man allows himself to feel. He can prevent emasculation by choosing not to feel that way. He can choose not to let society’s BS gender roles impact his self-definition of manhood. Flip the script: change how you think to change how you feel. Continue reading

Feb 16

“Baltimore”: Damn Straight it’s About Race

2/9/16 Boston Center for American Performance and New Repertory Theatre present BALTIMORE, A BU New Play Initiative Production by Kirsten Greenidge - Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue - After she’s dismissed from her job in the athletics department, Shelby Wilson becomes Resident Advisor to a group of freshmen—after all, it’ll look good on her resume. She soon discovers that a racially charged incident has set student against student, and it’s up to her to mediate the situation. In this world premiere production, playwright Kirsten Greenidge explores the complexities of racism from the perspective of eight culturally diverse college students. Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave. (Lane-Comley Studio 210) 2016-02-09-BALTIMORE_033.nef - Photograph By Kalman Zabarsky

2/9/16- Photograph By Kalman Zabarsky

Presented by Boston Center for American Performance and
New Repertory Theatre at the Boston University Theatre
By Kirsten Greenidge
Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue

February 10-28, 2016
Boston University Theatre
Lane-Comley Studio 210
264 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) I know what you’re thinking. Oh great, another play about race. And yes, this is a play about race. But the problem people don’t see in this thought process is that art exists as a response to society and our experiences living in it. Plays about race would not need to be written if we did in fact live in a post-racial society. So yes, this is a show about race, and if that bothers you then you are exactly the person that needs to see this play. Continue reading

Jan 16

At War With Each Other: DISGRACED

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Co.
Written Ayad Akhtar
Directed by Gordon Edelstein

Jan. 8 – Feb. 7, 2016
BU Theatre
Avenue of the Arts
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Disgraced tackles the complicated conundrum of existential humanity. One of the most trying aspects of existing is reconciling our darkest impulses against pointless altruism. For an example unrelated to the show, one can rashly wish the perpetrators of a horrendous crime to wither slowly in the blazing fires of Hell while still feeling compassion for the perp’s family. Meanwhile, expressing neither of these thoughts out loud. Simply wishing to be lawfully good does not eradicate one’s potential for committing chaotic evil acts. If so, the behavioral teachings of religion, say, would be unnecessary. Humans are complicated beasties. Continue reading

Nov 23

Festive and Fun: “A Civil War Christmas: an American Musical Celebration”

Photo image courtesy of the Facebook Page.

Photo image courtesy of the Facebook Page.

Presented by Wellesley College Theatre
Written by Paula Vogel
Music by Daryl Waters
Directed by Nora Hussey

November 18 – 22
Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre
Wellesly, MA
WCT on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

Christmas theatre is a very specific genre that requires a very particular mix to make effective (or even palatable).  The recipe starts with good old-fashioned holiday cheer; add a dash of nostalgia, a hint of history, a generous helping of family values, and (of course) finish with a generous sprinkling of festive music.  Paula Vogel’s A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration has all the necessary ingredients for the Christmas genre, but actually performing it requires a special touch.  The piece’s simplistic dialogue which features such tropes as characters telling you who they are before they begin to speak (“In the West Wing of the White House, President Lincoln’s maid was cleaning the floor…. Hi, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show tonight?”) that have the danger to edge this play towards the realm of children’s theatre cheesiness, or satirical campiness. Continue reading

Nov 16

Black Nuns are Supposed to be Funny: “SISTER ACT”

Photos©Paul Lyden

Photos©Paul Lyden

Presented by North Shore Music Theatre
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Book by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner
Additional Book Material by Douglas Carter Beane
Based on the Touchstone Pictures Motion Picture Sister Act written by Joseph Howard
Direction and Choreography by Kevin P. Hill
Music direction by Andrew Bryan (with an assist by Adrian Ries)

November 3 – 15, 2015
Beverly, MA
NSMT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Beverly, MA) What do you do with a musical version of a 90’s comedy that doesn’t age particularly well? You try and set it in the 70’s and hope for the best. The North Shore Music Theatre cast of Sister Act is winsome at times, but not crisp enough to transcend the problematic source material. Continue reading