The year in review in Black theater—moving, fresh, phenomenal! Part 2

Linda Armstrong | 1/10/2019, 4:25 p.m.
Aug. 26, 2018, will forever break my heart. The president of AUDELCO, Grace L. Jones, died on that day at ...
Grace L. Jones

Kenya Wilson.

November saw the power and beauty of a new voice at the Public Theater as Patricia Ione Lloyd wrote “Eve’s Song,” a play that took you to the ancestors and shared the struggles that Black women face. She painted a picture that stated the first woman in existence was a Black woman named Eve and she was who all Black women descended from. Lloyd created a world where every Black woman had her own song, and when you die you get to hear your personal song as the ancestors come to take your soul to the next existence. Lloyd so beautifully showed all the complex sides that a Black woman has. There’s the caring mother, the frustrated woman, the mother who questions if she is doing the right thing by her children, the mother who is concerned that there are negative elements in the world that she can’t protect her children from and the mother who has to pretend that everything is good, everything is just great, to try and maintain a “happy” family home life. Lloyd paints a picture that shows how a mother feels while dealing with the fresh wounds of her husband walking out and leaving her alone to raise their two children. We saw a woman who had a high position at work, but as the Black executive was degraded. We saw a woman who knew firsthand what being sexually harassed at work looked like. Lloyd gives the audience a proud Black woman who bends over backward to try to have everything go well. Lloyd truly is bothered by the murders of Black men and the murders of Black women in society, as we all should be. The spirits of three Black women who were real and killed in real life speak of the situations that viciously took their lives, and it left the audience stunned. Lloyd provided a look at love from the prospective of a lesbian, a look that is filled with passion and desire. As serious as the subject matter of this play was, it was balanced at times with humor. This stupendous cast included De’Adre Aziza, Kadijah Raquel, Karl Green, Ashley D. Kelley, Vernice Miller, Rachel Watson-Jih and Tamara M. Williams. Riveting direction by Jo Bonney added to the brilliance of this piece. Proving that art is an imitation of life, Christopher Demos-Brown created the compelling, heart-wrenching story “American Son,” which is playing at the Booth Theatre on West 45th Street. This play looks at how young Black males are targeted by the police and how it can become a fatal encounter. The story is told as we see a Black mother in a police precinct trying to find out what happened to her son. Where is Jamal? Once we see Kendra pacing, the story is off. The cast gives an A+ performance and will have you captivated and speechless as they had me. The only sound you will find yourself making is weeping. This play is a wake-up call to Black mothers, Black young men and everyone! The cast is splendid and includes Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale, Eugene Lee and Jeremy Jordan. There is spot-on direction by, yes, once again, the marvelously talented Kenny Leon. The month ended on a fun, positive note as entertainment legend, the beloved, Ben Vereen did his one-man show “Steppin’ Out With Ben Vereen” at the Cutting Room to a standing room crowd during Thanksgiving to give thanks for their loyalty. But it was all of us giving thanks to him for him sharing his life and tremendous talent.