Saturday, April 7, 2007

the colored museum

i am floored and moved; uplifted.

The Yale Heritage Theater Ensemble put up a production of George C. Wolfe's the colored museum at the Calhoun Cabaret this weekend and i was fortunate enough to attend this evening.

beyond the satirical matter of the play itself (which constructs parallelisms between the Middle Passage and flight on a plane called Celebrity Slaveship, alludes to josephine baker through the figure of Lala Amazing Grace, and critiques the antifeminist reduction of African American struggle and experience to the pursuit of only manhood rights), i was most overpowered by the work of the members of the HTE that staged the production.

the cast performed brilliantly: with wit, pain, humor, joy. SHADES comprised a significant portion of the cast and consequently, nearly everyone on the stage had an inordinately gorgoeus voice and presence.

every vignette, with song and drama and comedy, testified to the depth and diversity of black undergraduate arts. from theater ensembles such as HTE and EPGY, to dance groups such as konjo!, steppin' out, rhythmic blue, to WORD's slam poetry, and singing groups such as yale gospel choir, asempa, and SHADES, black performing arts at yale remain one of our campus' greatest strengths.

of course, TNS was rolling deep in the colored museum, with melay tadesse araya as director and elizabeth st. victor as producer. melay and e st v have succeeded in reminding those of us in attendance that we cannout outrun history nor live in it.

for those of us who may have been sleepwalking on this campus, blind to the great irony of being a student of color at this university and in the city of new haven, the yale heritage theater ensemble has shaken us into a consciousness that i pray we will actualize.*

let us carry these wisdoms in our soul and in our hearts and in our skins, unafraid to speak them out of us and into these communities (some fragmented, some false).

knowing, as George C. Wolfe would have us remember, that there is beauty in our madness, strength in our contradictions.

congratulations to the cast: alex blissett, katherine webb, daniel tetreault, camelle scott, noah p. hood, emily jenda, sarajane williams, naomi bland, and kyle mitchell. congratulations to melay tadesse araya (director), elizabeth st. victor (producer), quincy o'neal (assistant producer), graphics designer (marika bailey), bouncer (quave smith), house manager (umi-shakti ausar-sahu), and natalie k. paul (of HTE). *note: i have discussed the great irony of being a black student at yale with elizabeth. i recognize her in this note for the phraseology is hers.


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