By Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by Karla Hartley
Mar. 10 – 27, 2011
Thu. – Sat. 8pm, Sun. 4pm
Shimberg Playhouse, Straz Center for the Performing Arts
Creative Loafing Best of the Bay
Finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Starring Fanni Green and Jim Wicker.
Set in a small, predominantly African-American South Carolina town, we watch Eugene and Alma grow up together and fall in love. We soon realize that their romance is challenged by prejudice within the African-American community and their own families.
While both Eugene and Alma are black, Eugene’s skin is lighter than Alma’s, and what seems on the surface to be a small distinction can truly make a world of difference. Though the play has only two actors on stage, they each play a host of other characters.
Playwright Dael Orlandersmith stated in an interview in 2002 that she knew that her piece – which along with its passionate love story, deals with “colorism”, meaning valuing a lighter skin color over a darker one within the African American community – would generate controversy.
“Any time you talk about race, it’s a risky thing,” Orlandersmith said, “This one is tough, it’s a volatile subject. But I’m here to be a mental and emotional traveler, and I’m not here to necessarily be a crowd pleaser. People need to understand that this is a story, not the story.”
The characters’ complicated relationship to their own families makes for a layered backdrop to the development of their friendship and eventual romantic entanglement, which follows them from their small town youth to the bustling lights of New York City, where Alma breaks into womanhood and self-acceptance in diverse, vibrant Harlem. The two actors show us not only the different phases of their own characters’ lives, but also must bring to life the myriad characters that make up their past, their present, their memories and the beautiful – if sometimes tattered – fabric of their shared experience.
Discuss the Show
We have a talk-back after the Fri., Mar. 18 performance. If you come that night, please feel free to stick around after and join in the discussion.
We will also have a talkback after the Sun., Mar. 28 performance with Dr. Gary Lemmons, Dr. Kim Vaz, Dr. Navita James and the cast.
Do It Today – Creative Loafing
Finding a Play Onwards – The Oracle
Provocative ‘Yellowman’ explores intercultural prejudice – Tampa Tribune
Cast & Crew
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