I Work,Yet I’m Homeless

 

What happens when a city that was once the Cadillac of American cities files bankruptcy? The downward spiral is speedy, and almost devastating.

Detroit! It all started in 1973 with the Arab Oil Embargo. Cars had to be downsized. The spaceship size cars, that looked like houses on wheels, (BUICK 225, PONTIAC, LINCOLN) were becoming more expensive to fuel. Who were the ones making cars with better fuel efficiency? The Japanese.

As Detroit downsized, whites took flight, retooled themselves for other jobs, but blacks had no such choice. As a result of the white flight, Detroit became an almost completely black city, as this population scrambled for the remaining jobs in the automobile plants. What was left could easily be described as the SKELETON CREW running the automobile industry.

SKELETON CREW is now a play in performance at Baltimore Center Stage. In some ways this play mirrors what many in Baltimore faced working in the steel industry at Sparrows Point, (Bethlehem Steel) after the steel industry closed down.

In the play STEPHANIE BERRY (Faye) who works on the assembly line is having financial difficulty. She owns a house, has a car, has a rocky relationship with her son, has no male companion, and is trying to keep all the mishaps from her co-workers.

There are rumblings of plant closings, and new employee conduct rules, including the cessation of smoking. Faye as a Union representative should be setting an example. Everyone is black including the immediate supervisor, who has to be the enforcer. (Remember history? The Field N….r vs. the House N….r?).

Faye loses her house, and began sneaking into the plant to sleep at night. Will she be discovered, and be fired?

Do you know of anyone who has faced similar circumstances? Working, black, yet homeless. This play could be timely in more than one way.

SkeletonCrew

Faye, Shanita and Dez., co-workers.

Skeleton Crew.

Faye and supervisor Reggie

The play concludes on March 4, 2018

 

 

 

MAKE OTHELLO WHITE AGAIN

Christian Gibbs, star of RED VELVET

The new Othello

SHIRLEY BASFIELD DUNLAP, Director.

We go back to the 1600’s, when it is believed OTHELLO,  was written by Shakespeare. It is about a Moor, a decorated warrior from the Southern coast of Africa sent as  ambassador to the British Empire. He was dark, not unlike the Madras Indian from India, or Australian aborigine, thus the contrasting features to the English: cheek bones, lips, noses.

His body was a foretaste of African American footballer Jim Brown (in his heyday), boxer Jack Johnson. The real Othello was a threat to English white men, their women were looking at black prowess, and Desdemona, was the first to fall.

OTHELLO, the play became a hit, white men lined up to play the role, but painted their faces in black. And then in 1833, an African American, believed to have been born in Bel Air Md., but listed out of New York City, was offered to the role at the London theater, in Coventry, England. He was replacing a well known white actor who fell ill.

Despite the fact that Ira Aldridge had professional acclaim throughout Europe, London became his test. He was about to perform at the epicenter of the theater world. (the running back Supreme, the boxing match of the Century, how will London respond?)

The reviews were devastating, the male writers saw him as a threat, his pronunciations too animated, his physical contact with the female actors too romantic. Linking his masculinity to a pied piper, pulling white female mice to his secret hideaway for intimate proclivities. London wanted the old OTHELLO, the white Othello, in black face paint.

What happens in the end, you will have to see when you attend the play, RED VELVET at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Theatre on Calvert Street, downtown Baltimore.

CHRISTIAN GIBBS is outstanding, supported by a very able supporting cast. I think this is perhaps the theatre’s best, I have seen.

GIBBS is moved to tears when  asked him about the final scene in RED VELVET. (See video).

It’s 185 years since 1833, and we are still experiencing the past : MAKE AMERICA (Othello) GREAT (White) AGAIN !!