Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Black Power"

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note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey

Power To The People,
Right On

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

I’m of two minds about the Black Power plays at the BCA (presented by Up You Mighty Race Performing Arts and New African Company). They certainly don’t shock the way they did forty years ago (Randy nuns, nasty bigots and bloodthirsty military types are everywhere in movies today) but the surprise ..and the shame is that the plays are just as relevant now.

The government is using the same old colonial argument to silence voices it deems “incendiary.” Take, for example some general in fatigues (like he goes anywhere near the fighting!) explaining that we shut down an Iraqi newspaper because it might “incite violence.” So much for a free press. Or the horrific case of Amadou Dialou who was gunned down by the New York City police a couple of years ago in a case of mistaken identity…and the police were exonerated after an investigation.

White folks still think they’re going to be robbed just like Ed Bullins’ paranoid couple in GENTLEMAN CALLER. The U.S.A. is still invading countries in the name of democracy like Ben Cadwell’s MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Bullins, Cadwell, Douglas Turner Ward and Amiri Baraka get the satire right, even if the writing is a little threadbare in hindsight.

The image which looms largest and speaks for the spirit of the ‘60s though, is the photo of Tommy Smith on the Black Power playbill. When gold medalist Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos laid a righteous black power salute on the Mexico City Olympics, word was out, there was no going back.

Bravo to Akiba Abaka, Vincent Siders and the versatile cast (and I do mean versatile: the always superb Keith Mascoll carries off a blonde wig and coquettish walk Marilyn Monroe would be jealous of!) for taking us back to the ‘60s. April 15 - May 8

"Black Power" (15 April - 8 May}
539 Tremont Street, BOSTON

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide