by Jackie Sibblies Drury
The play begins as Beverly Frasier is setting up a birthday party for her mother in her upper-middle class house. Her family slowly joins her onstage, first her husband Dayton, then her sister Jasmine, and finally her daughter Keisha. Beverly receives a phone call from her brother, Tyrone, telling her that he cannot come to the birthday party. Beverly becomes so upset with things going awry and family conflict that occurs that she faints.
Act two has the same actors from act one going through the same actions we've just seen them go through, but this time they are not making any sound as they move their mouths. While this happens we hear another conversation from 4 other actors. The family on stage is all black, but the people who are speaking are clearly white as they are engaged in a theoretical conversation about what race they would chose to be if they could. Jimbo says he would be Asian, Mack says he would be LatinX, and Bets -- clearly not American -- says that she would be Slavic (they are not sure if this is another race). Suze, is appalled at the conversation and tries repeatedly to point out how inappropriate everyone is being, but after some pressure says that she would chose to be a black woman -- painting a wildly inappropriate image herself. As this conversation continues, the action on stage reaches the moment where Beverly faints. The action moves forward from there as the characters on stage continue their preparations for the matriarch's birthday party.
In act three, the Frasier family is joined by their mother/grandmother, their brother, and Keisha's friend, Erika. These are black characters who are played by the white actors from the act II voiceovers. Each of the characters played by white people are grossly exaggerated caricatures of racist black stereotypes -- and the grandmother as played by Suze is apparently not "black enough" so Bets comes on and plays an even more exaggerated version of the character.
The action is changed by the white characters who accuse the black characters of racist tropes until Keisha breaking the fourth wall and speaking to the audience about how exhausting it is for Black people to have white people staring at them all the time, defining who they are. She asks if the white people in the audience could just switch places and feel what it is like to be stared at and judged all the time. She ends expressing her need to tell her own stories and asks white people to participate as listeners.
Date Aired: March 28, 2022
Team: Jennifer, Ricardo, and Sam
Analysis Technique: World of the Play
Community Voices: [none]
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