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Rachel by Angelina Weld Grimké presented by New Brooklyn Theater

August 17, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers

Irrepressible 12-year-old Rachel can barely stop exclaiming to her mother about the wonders of life, especially little Black and Brown babies. Her mother, sad and distracted tells her that it is the tenth anniversary of a horrible event: her husband, Rachel's father had been lynched. As the play unfolds, Rachel is confronted with how the little children in her tenement are taunted and harassed with racial slurs and insults at their school. We see the spirit and life drained from Rachel to the point that she can no longer even think of bringing children into this world. As Rachel is pondering all of this, I kept thinking of Bob Avakian's message of how Black mothers fear that their children will be targets of police terror, and what it will take to get to a different world.

"They're selling postcards of the hanging." - clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian given in 2003 in the United States. Bob Avakian is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. This talk, followed by questions and answers, is a wide-ranging revolutionary journey, covering many topics. It breaks down the very nature of the society we live in and how humanity has come to a time where a radically different society is possible. It is full of heart and soul, humor and seriousness; it will challenge you and set your heart and mind to flight.

The message of Angelina Weld Grimké's 1919 anti-lynching play is very visceral and emotional. This thoughtful production brings the meaning to life through effectively staging the action against the background audio of Eric Garner being confronted and strangled by the police. As the director, Courtney Harge, said: "The tragedy of the work is not the story that unfolds on stage. The tragedy is that this conversation has remained unchanged for so long. Lynching is not merely a dramatic device or a writing prompt. Lynching was a reality, not vastly unlike the police—and vigilante—involved shootings of our current era."

A thoughtful discussion afterwards showed it touched a nerve. One white woman asked about what impact this is having on people. The director said, "It has been a varied response that sometimes brings out a lot of emotion." Then she said, "I will be honest...I am doing this for a white audience, for a lot of people who do not know about this, and whose lives are very different from this." Then a guy asked if the play had any effect on the culture of lynching back in the day. The director said "Not enough." He also commented about the linkages that the play makes between the lynching back in the day and the present day reality of police terror and asked—"What can be done now?" We got called on next, and we talked about how we can never forgive and never forget these horrors and in the face of the present reality of police terror—there is a call for thousands from all over the country to come into New York City to oppose this in Rise Up October. We handed out the cards announcing Oct 24 which were eagerly taken up. And we also got out packets with Revolution to the cast and director.

Rachel, by Angelina Weld Grimké, presented by New Brooklyn Theater, is playing August 7 - 29, 2015 at the Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217



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