Monday, May 14, 2012

Theatre, Race and a conversation begins

As my graduation from Eckerd College began to loom nearer and nearer I knew I would have to decide what to do with myself when this exquisite experience was over.  I knew I wanted to take my education to the next level--a Master’s program--but where and what type was eluding me until I attended at grad school info session at USF-SP a few months ago.  I had decided prior to the meeting that I was going to apply there but it was not until the Director of the MLA program, Lisa Starks-Estes talked about passion that I had an epiphany.  What was my passion and how could I apply that to the interdisciplinarity of an American Studies program?  It hit me later that evening.  The theatre is my passion.  Not the “I want to be an actor” type but attending, experiencing...the engagement of audience part of theatre.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to study American playwrights, the history of American Theatre, their impact on and reflection of American culture, and the importance of literature and arts (including the performing and fine arts) in a well rounded education?  Wouldn’t it be awesome to take kids (teens, I’m thinking) who wouldn’t otherwise go -- for economic, cultural and other reasons -- to experience the theatre?  There it was!  My plan, my passion!
It was this course of thinking that brought me to the Jobsite Theatre’s production of Race yesterday.  The reason I chose this particular performance was for the talkback scheduled after the show. Incidentally, I bought the last ticket, my hopes of the student rush ticket dashed.  It was well worth the extra cost.  
The performance was fantastic.  Jobsite never fails to deliver thought-provoking, intense entertainment.  The tension developed as the usually unspoken but ever prevalent issue of race was brought to the forefront and the intentionally ambiguous ending provided the perfect forum for a post show discussion.  
Everyone brings their own life experiences and prejudices to the table:  the actors, playwright and director, and the audience and so everyone's experience is different, as is every show.  That is the beauty of live theatre.  The conversation between panel and audience was thoughtful and respectful, rather like preaching to the choir, but it did illustrate that theatre can in fact, start a dialog, can build community and quite possibly affect change.  As for the's NOT just about can be read on so many levels as suggested by both the panelists and audience.

So I am correct in thinking that my plan, to bring others to experience theatre, is not far-fetched.  Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to do it!
As for the show--go see it--you will not be disappointed.   Then let me know what you think.