Usnavi runs a bodega in his neighborhood. He keeps giving free coffee to Vanessa, the woman he has a crush on and can’t bring himself to ask out. Everyone in the neighborhood buys lottery tickets at his spot. One day he realizes someone in the neighborhood has bought a winning ticket. He looks up the amount. How much could it be for? $1,000? $2,000?
He stops short. It’s for $96,000, the kind of money that goes a long way. It can change the course of someone’s life. Who won the money? And what are they going to do with it?
It is sometime in the 2050s. Marjorie and her companion — a facsimile of her late husband Walter as a young man, share a conversation in which Walter is appealing, charismatic, showmanly, obsequious, and just a bit off. When Tess and Jon introduce themselves later, visiting Marjorie and taking care of her, Walter withdraws. He sits pleasantly and unobtrusively in teal light, watching the other players with rapt attention as he, the machine intended to learn how to be the man he has replaced, absorbs every word, memory, affect, and behavior of the people he was provided to comfort.
Liberal elite New Haven theater-goers beware: If you attend the new play inspired by the landmark Ricci v. DeStefano case, you won’t get to feel superior to the working-class white people who convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to change the rules for affirmative action.
Alice Childress’ best-known play, Trouble in Mind, — a hard-hitting study of racism in American theater, being put on by the Yale School of Drama at the University Theater from Feb. 2 to Feb. 8 — debuted in 1955. The play’s critical success made Childress the first African American woman to win an Obie as a playwright. Originally produced Off Broadway in Greenwich Village, the play was Broadway bound, until Childress became dissatisfied about changes she was asked to make in her play. The play remains as Childress originally wrote it, and also remains woefully underproduced. Aneesha Kudtarkar, a third-year director in the Yale School of Drama, sees irony in the way the play’s history relates to its subject matter.
When you hear the term “Southern Gothic,” what do you think of? Racism, incest, misogyny, patriarchy, madness, suicide, a crumbling old house in which, at some level of symbolism, the white supremacist evils of the Confederacy eat away at the foundations of civilized society? Boo Killebrew’s Miller, Mississippi has it all, served up with a persistent backdrop of newscasts — from 1960 to 1994 — to help us keep track.