We enter the space as glowing bottles, cardboard picket signs, and flowers are dispersed around the stage’s perimeter. Video projection is utilized to display the subject matter of this one woman show by Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith. This deeply important discourse is highlighted through Orlandersmith’s interpretation of various perspectives on the receiving end of the news of Mike Brown’s shooting by the police - or depending on perspective, “When Officer Darren Wilson responded while on duty.”
Goodman Theatre is the Third Venue for this Performance
In Until The Flood, Director Neel Keller leads us through the 70-minute piece, fresh off its Milwaukee Repertory Theatre run, as well as an off Broadway appearance at New York’s Rattlestick Theatre. We’re offered a portal of stories delivered seamlessly through the end product of 60-80 interviews throughout and around Ferguson - including immediate family of the late Mike Brown.
We’re taken through perspectives of different ages, sexes, races & socio-political statuses that reflect— to this reporter —as very human, rather than caricatures of faintly represented demographics. The moments of switching chuckles, sighs, and hums of contemplation among us succeeded in what seems to be Orlandersmith’s intention of bringing communities together so we can together assess the many truths of complex tragedy and race.
A key moment for this reporter that shifted the usual narrative of white and black relations in the country into a lesser represented dynamic, was an exchange between an older Black barbershop owner and what he refers to as a “Green Black Girl.” She is a Northwestern University student whom he perceives as having a savior mentality poised to enthusiastically spread her assumed narrative of the collective black experience far and wide.
Another paradigm shift comes from an elderly woman retired in her hometown of Ferguson, back from her years studying in New York. She reflects the struggles she faced in acknowledging self hate bred in the Black south community, and frustration with Mike Brown for endangering himself with uncareful decisions leading him to petty crimes.
In this way Orlandersmith uses her craft to open socio-political discourse. Rather than transporting us to an alternate world, we’ve pulled open a folding chair to our own backyards. We take a look at pockets we may have not thought to give attention to before. Truth seekers are challenged. More, we get to savor what is arguably the lost art of storytelling.
Until the Flood is a top pick for people who appreciate the arts as a method of reflecting the times.
If you are seeking escapism, this might not be your show.
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 May 12th
Goodman Theatre in The Owen
About the Author:
Brittany Harlin is the founding artistic director of Chicago Urban Dance Collective and 2017 recipient of the Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award. Her influences are Hip Hop and Modern Dance Pioneers. In addition to company work, her dancing and choreography has been featured at Ragdale Foundation, Links Hall, Elastic Arts, Aragon Ballroom, DRAMA Duo Music Productions, Black Ensemble Theatre, and Hip Hop International.
Brittany’s focus is Hip Hop, Modern, Funk Styles, Waacking, and House, combined with growing knowledge of somatics and kinesiology, all through the concert dance lens. Her goal is to bring dance education to a place of complete body awareness, spiritual expression, and connection. Brittany hopes to establish her practice in expressive therapy, creating opportunities, and inclusiveness.
Her teaching artist pedagogy & philosophy are weighted in respecting the integrity of the vernacular movement, by sharing what she’s been taught from respected community members - and stopping exactly there. She relates those concepts to personal natural movement, and the energy of the dancers she’s working with. Her goal is to create solidarity between diverse backgrounds, conducive to the essence and intention of The Hip Hop Socio-Political Movement. Harlin’s passion in dance extends to her community as she has launched her most recent endeavor of teaching professionalism and industry standards to aspiring professional dancers.
When Brittany isn’t dancing, she is supplementing her work with her passions for poetry and songwriting. She’s been referred to as a fawn and a hippie on multiple, separate occasions.