Monday, March 2, 2020

The Trial of One Short-Sighted Woman vs. Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae

K was working this event, so I went too.  Really well acted and had important, poignant moments, especially some inspirational monologues.  

It was also inspiring/impressive to see the playwright there .  Apparently she wrote this a long time ago and is not very well known - they had a hard time just finding her to get permission to do the play.  So that's pretty cool too; imagine someone respecting your work so much that they want to create it fresh, long after your original effort!

From a storytelling perspective it was a bit flawed, since the "opening arguments" made a good case against the stereotypes of the always-happy Mammy character and the over-sexed, "rebellious" Safreeta character, which put the audience on their side, but then as the play progressed, you realized that the stereotypes weren't there as stereotypes, but as actual living, suffering people (somehow transported through history).  The "witness list" was similarly confusing, with the white movie executive who was an ignoramus called by one side but supporting the other.   The premise was about whether we can "put slavery behind us" or not.  The intended message is that you need to recognize that legacy... and the harm it continues to cause.  Ironically, it also made the point that African American history consists of more than just slavery, but that point was mostly lost because of the play's emphasis on the horrible reality and legacy of slavery.  

So, well acted, great moments, excellent points... but at bit confusing in terms of the storytelling.

K and I spent a lot of time discussing it.  One cool moment:  at the beginning, the "prosecuting attorney" opens with, "when you think of an executive, do you think of a Black woman?"  The point is supposed to be that people don't think of Black women in leadership roles.  But K said that her reaction was, "when I think of an executive, I think of Sherri Young."  She's the director of this play and the Executive Director of the whole company, so that reaction alone show that she's built a legacy to be proud of, not to mention the excellence of this particular work.  I'm so thrilled that K gets to work for her.  K herself was pretty excited because one of the actors remembered her name.  :-)



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