THIS is the pig they keep trying to put lipstick on…
Raw and revolting, Wedding Band—A Love Story in Black & White rips apart the mindset that makes we-won’t-die Klansmen march in Charlottesville, hatch birther conspiracies and then try on a new moniker of “alt right”. How you experience this play is likely affected by how much your day is or isn’t shaped by White skin privilege vs. breathing-while-Black cautions.
It’s World War I and set in some South Carolina city. Black soldiers are joining the army, but out of uniform they have no prospects other than scraping by on the bottom. It helps to remember that there were not only former slaves alive then but also that the majority of USA adults then had grown up in a world where former slaves were relatively ubiquitous.
Mixing of Black and White was not only scandalous, but anti-miscegenation laws were on the books. Ten years earlier the couple at the center of this story— Black Julia Augustine played by Raina Lynn and White Herman played by Scott Westerman—had found each other and an illicit love despite de jure and de facto prohibitions.
The Artistic Home Stages a Classic Play by Alice Childress
You too may find the hyper-realistic picture of Julia and Walter’s relationship by famed actress and playwright Alice Childress’ pen an emotional wallop. We may have read of the marriages across race lines that happened here or there, but it’s likely few of us –even those of us in modern cross-racial relationships—have imagined these couplings so vividly before. We peek into the oasis of their love nest and for many of us readily recognize it as the magic of domestic bliss, with or without wedding band. Here are statistical anomaly relationships rendered everyday.
This peek into their bedroom is a first attention getter in what starts off as a slow, slow moving script, leaving you totally unprepared for the first explosion of race relations towards the end of the first act. It’s so powerful that you might think the play is ending at this scene’s conclusion, instead of continuing after intermission to double down on its expose of racism.
The power of this tale is in no small part in the telling and how revelations of underlying emotions simply stun. Concern for spoilers demands that more details in how the story unfolds not be shared here. Note that the subtitle “..a Love/Hate Story in Black & White” tells you what you are in for.
Do know that acting doesn’t get better than this—every cast member. (Susan Anderson, Reid Coker, Laura Coleman, Raina Lynn, Lisa McConnell, Donna McGough, Myesha-Tiara, Kevin Patterson, and Scott Westerman.) Please note a special shout out to the two amazingly talented young actresses—Maya Hooks (10) and Madison Murphy (9)—whose skipping, hopscotch and ever-so-natural stage presence go farther than the set to define time and place. One suspects that Director Cecilie Keenan didn’t need to do much other than unleash all of these acting talents.
As you re-hash this play after the shock wears off--- and it does stun and take you over—you too might find yourself considering how this classic work would come off to audiences Black and White today vs. the evening of November 4, 2008 vs. August 28, 1963 during the famed March on Washington and so many more milestones in our tragic history of race relations.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
thru December 17
Thursdays 7:30 PM (no performance on Thanksgiving November 23)
Fridays and Saturdays 8:00 PM
Sundays 3:00 PM
The Artistic Home
1376 West Grand
About the Author: Amy Munice
Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.
Amy hopes the magazine’s click-a-picture-to-read-a-vivid-account format will nourish those ever hunting for under-discovered cultural treasures. She especially loves writing articles about travel finds, showcasing works by cultural warriors of a progressive bent, and shining a light on bold, creative strokes by fledgling artists in all genres.