… a powerful, entertaining, enlightening mosiac of the laughter, tears, challenge and triumph of Black life!Being Black
There is something really special about walking into a Fringe theater and feeling the buzz in the air. This pariticular show for many audience members was their first-ever Fringe show! Ambient music invited everyone to relax as we found our seats and got ready for the premier performance.
This play blends poignant moments with humor is portraying a moving portrayal of Living While Black in the U.S. The storyline is prompted by the unprecedented rise of global social consciousness in 2020 but digs beneath the surface to explore realities that enhance perspectives and understanding of complicated social dynamics.
Being Black opens on a husband and wife sitting in front of the television. Sounds of this past summer’s George Floyd protests fill the air. “No Justice, No Peace! No Justce, No Peace!” The couple has a very serious and layered conversation not only about the protests, but about getting involved. They are torn, knowing the dangers that await them if they join the marches on the street. Their discussion of George Floyd’s murder while the world watched is powerful. “This rage you feel is justified. No matter how loud we shout, the world turns a deaf ear!” What a very grave decision must be made. One wrong move, and they could return in a body bag.
Next we meet a beautiful Black woman at the end of a long interview process – four interview and a test to be exact. She’s the perfect candidate for the postion, and is all but told by the HR department that the job is hers. Except for one “small” detail. “There’s no delicate way to say it – your hair.” The applicant’s hair is called urban, radical, ethnic, and in order for her to get the job she will be forced to change it in order to fit in with their traditional clientele. “We are committed to diversity, but only if it’s to our standards.” What an impossible, and racist, situation! What does hair have to do with ability and talent?
The next scene introduces Dr. Rock, a DJ at WBLK Soul Radio. He weaves together a delightful sermon of sorts after his sister calls him to nag him about an upcoming event. Holier-Than-Thou folks can get on his nerves, especially considering they were both raised in the church by the same pastor father! He does an incredible job of comparing love songs, like the ones he plays at the radio station, to Jesus’ love. “A love song is a love song even if it’s not quoting scripture.” There may have been a few amens from the audience during this scene.
The final two characters we meet is the best friend Mike and his new girlfriend of Cliff, who we met in the opening scene watching protests on TV. This is one of the funniest scenes in the play. It’s delightful to see the discourse unfold between two longtime friends. Mike is very proud of his new girlfriend, or as he calls her, his “new wife.” He goes on to explain that she’s the “rainforest of South America. The Taj Mahal. The ocean front at sunset in Maui.” Cliff is quick to reproach him, asking him not to promise something he can’t keep.
This cast continues to interact for the rest of the play in a very moving, powerful, relevant way. Without giving too much away, the audience should get a better understanding of what it’s like to be Black in America. The struggles and racisim that are faced on a daily basis are very real. There’s a reason why Blacks are “cautious about volunteering for danger,” and why being black is living on the edge.