A play to commemorate the Black History Month was staged at the Dunham Hall Theatre at the weekend. I was there to see the last show on Sunday on recommendation from friends who had seen it days before and had been impressed. The play, a series of short skits and vignettes, explores the many dimensions of being black in America.
From the problem of identity to the challenge of belonging, from the choices of hairstyle to family life, homosexuality, single motherhood, movie portrayal/stereotypes among many others, the play takes on everything inviting the audience to laugh, and then ponder. I overhead one of the performers explaining that it’s called “The Coloured Museum” because each skit represents an exhibit in the imaginary museum of racial relics. This gives the performance some perspective.
My favourite, Git on Board, was a satirical take on the middle passage, where passengers were admonished by a chatty flight attendant to “fasten their shackles” at all times, and endeavour to keep their drums and different tongues silent during the flight in order to prevent a mutiny. At the end of their trip, there awaited them a very promising future but not after about 300 years of hardship. The reward included a star-studded cultural evolution that included Aretha Franklin, basketball, a complex culture, and hip-hop. The play is hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t seen it so I won’t even try. It’s even more difficult because taking pictures of any of the acting scenes was prohibited from the start. I can say this though: it was an amazing performance by a cast of students. It stirred up the playwright in me.
The Coloured Museum was written by George C. Wolfe and directed by Kathryn Bentley.