Sent: Sunday, June 04, 2000 10:17 PM
Subject: feedback on play
Please forward this to Janine and the cast.
I really loved the play and thought it was a magnificent achivement in
of structure, flow and acting. This is such a difficult topic for both
Blacks and Whites that without really deft treatment it would simply be
overwhelming to permit the audience to take it in. I thought the power
dignity of the central couple kept the terror of the institution of
from being overwhelming. Rather than go on about all the thingsd that
really enjoyed, let me get to a couple of questions.
Michel's mentioning that you were continually rethinking certain
the play put me in a critical mode and I made notes of things that left
First, the exchange in which Sherman explodes at the point that
Otis are taunting Joseph about following his woman into the woods was
powerful, but I could not figure out (without folding in a lot of
assumptions) where the intensity of anger was coming from. As with all
these comments, I simply could have missed it, but it struck me that
further elaboration of just why people at Sherman's level in the
of slavery in the old South were so important in not pushing things too
This is too abstract. LaRue's version is more to the point, as usual.
Sherman comes on and explodes. Why? (LaRue adds: I'm just not sure
"all of a sudden" gets so mad. Or did I miss something? Maybe I only
that he knew what the deal was all along.)
David and LaRue both thought at times things got a bit too didactic.
David, the one exchange that stood out was where the lead couple are
about reading the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Without going
talk about the inherent problem of slaves not being part of those noble
documents, it sounded odd.
As to length, David felt that the play was not too long at all. The
seemed to fly by.
>From LaRue: I was in such pain through much of the play that it DID
long. It was time well spent, certainly. But when I left the theater,
was too drained to even speak. Is it possible that the several times
the stage is empty (I get the symbolism) could be shortened a bit?
the pace and transition between scenes be quickened? The void and the
darkness still send the message that these are lives with a lot of
aching in them.
>From LaRue: What stays with me (perhaps because, as a Black woman I'd
soon not think about the horrors of slavery for the rest of the week!)
the universality of that relationship. It was powerfully written and
acted by both. I ached for them. They could be any couple anywhere,
to what they have, uncertain how to confront obstacles to their
togetherness. It gave me so much to think about.
>From LaRue: Toward the end, a woman comes up the aisle with a heavy
her back. Didn't know what to make of that. In contrast, the
singer coming up the aisle as the couple embraces-magic!
But enough. It was really good that one cannot come away from the play
believing that the surface civility of the larger plantations were no
terrifying than the smaller plantations that used more overtly hostile
control techniques. So much, so much that was wonderful.
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