Manhattan Theatre Club Reopening Ribbon Cutting

The last show I saw before the Coronavirus pandemic closed everything was a Tony Award-winning revival The play of a soldier, A drama about the mysterious murder of a black soldier stationed in Louisiana in the 1940s. I often think that night, how we didn’t know how our reality would change within a week.

It reminds me of another significant event in my life. I was 21 when I first went to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day. It seemed like a passing rite when a GRIT (girl raised in the South) kicked Bourbon Street, swallowed a hurricane from Pat O’Brien, and soaked it with a beignet from Cafe Du Monde.

Then I noticed something else as well. People were supposed to measure time as before and after Hurricane Katrina. It was 2011 and it had been six years since Katrina had destroyed the city, but there were still shadows where the shopping malls were. The highway exits were barricaded. Next to the spray-painted body count numbers of Red X were still marking the doors in the 9th Ward. That trauma was obvious to me.

Theater artists were catching on to disaster, such as collecting anthologies The Katrina project and Katrina On Stage. But now what seemed to be located in New Orleans and other cities devastated by natural disasters — the measurement of time in trauma — lives with all of us. Everyone has had a loss in the coronavirus pandemic, both experiential and existential. The latter takes pride in the heart of the nation because we are forced to face the moral problems posed by racism, sexism, and xenophobia.

On Broadway, the need to talk to the moment is there. The Great White Road was obscured for 18 months, during which time it forced the industry to deal with the perpetuation of injustices. There is a great lack of diversity on and off stage – 58.6% of the roles given to white actors in the 2018-19 season, and 80% of designers in a given season are male. And there were numerous allegations of sexual assault against major producers. This pause in production propelled the engine to a moral dialogue about empowerment versus dominance in theater.

One of the most notable responses to Broadway at the moment is the presence of more new plays by Black playwrights, as well as more shows starring black actors. There are currently 10 sessions starring black actors on Broadway. Six of them were written by black writers. This is a big improvement over the previous decade of the 20s.

Director Danya Taymor (left) and playwright Antoinette Nwandu (center) in the fabric call. Pass Broadway, August Wilson Theater, Aug. 4, New York City.

Bruce Glikas / Getty Images

He returned to Broadway in August with Antoinette Nwandu Pass as the first new game to kick off the season. In Pass, two black men, Moses and Kitch, find themselves trapped in an environment plagued by endless police harassment and gun violence. The play, based on Samuel Beckett Godoten is waiting, Premiered in 2017 at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. When Moses and Kitch say the names of all the friends who have died as a result of gun violence there is a sour moment in the play, which is like stepping on a nail over and over again. protests following the murders of police officers Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

This issue continues Thoughts of a man of color Author: Keenan Scott II. The production stars many TV actors, including Da’Vinchi (All Americans), Luke James (Chiand Tristan Mack Wilds (Wire). The play is a series of vignettes that capture moments in the lives of ordinary black men, such as having a baby and falling in love. Scott wants to show the breadth of black men’s identities, from a rising mobile buppi to a young boy looking for women and money. However, in the end, none of them can escape the loss of a friend as a result of police violence.

In addition to law enforcement, the pandemic has forced us to look at how the system treats those less fortunate. In Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s solo show Lackawanna Blues, reflects on growing up in a New York state pension. It embodies two dozen characters, most of whom have been rejected by society. There are veterans who deal with post-traumatic stress, women who are fleeing domestic violence, and people with mental illness. They all find themselves in Rachel’s house because she doesn’t do credit checks or ask for deposits, proving that it shouldn’t be difficult to provide people with a safe place to live.

From left to right in Broadway production Thoughts of a man of color: Luke James, Esau Pritchett, Da’Vinchi, Forrest McClendon, Dyllón Burnside, Tristan Mack Wilds and Bryan Terrell Clark.

Julieta Cervantes

Alice Childressen comedy Consider the problems it confronts an even larger system by confronting stereotypical representations of Blacks on stage. Six decades ago, in many ways, Childress called on Broadway to address the issues she is facing this season. The play focuses on an actress, Wiletta Mayer (played by LaChanze), who is tired of playing a maid and is at risk of losing what may be her life’s role to give her character more depth. Consider the problems It was a hit outside of Broadway in 1955 and was for a Broadway transfer, but Childress reportedly refused to do producer reviews.

The thread that binds these plays — and for us — is mourning. Wiletta is regretting losing her career. Moses and Kitch are all mourning the loss of gun violence. And the characters depicted in it Lackawanna Blues they are mourning the life they left before arriving at that pension in Lackawanna, New York.

Maybe Douglas Lions found the answer Chicken and biscuits, located at a funeral. In this dysfunctional comedy, which closed on November 28 because multiple actors hired COVID-19, his grandfather’s funeral is almost secondary to the rivalry between siblings that unfolds outside the chapel and family secrets. What Lyon captures so well with other new plays by Black playwrights is that they lose and then give up. Losing is a part of life, and it’s hard, but leaving can make it easier to bear.

Alana Raquel Bowers (left) and Devere Rogers (right) on set Chicken and biscuits.

Emilio Madrid

The events of the last 19 months have led many of us to make difficult but necessary decisions about what to leave and who to hold on to. Sometimes it is the outpouring of people, places, and ideas that are not worth our fate. But as artists who continued to write and perform new plays during the pandemic have shown us, there is also the possibility of loss. This is the new era of Reconstruction, and the way we value each other today will have consequences in the years to come. If we take the lead in artists, we can become a nation where everyone’s stories are in the spotlight.

Kelundra Smith is a theater critic, playwright and art journalist, and her role is to connect people with cultural experience and with each other. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Food & Wine, American Theater, Bitter Southerner, Atlanta Magazine and others. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Theater Critics Association, and also gives workshops on cultural criticism on cultural identity in theaters and universities across the country. Follow us on Twitter @pieceofkay or Instagram @anotherpieceofkay to reflect on life, art and everything else.