What's it about?
Ain't Never Been Easy is a play about the Communist organizational efforts made by both African Americans and Whites living in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1930's during the Great Depression. Efforts were made to try to put an end to social, racial and economical injustices and create a path for freedom, liberation and equality.
What'd I experience?
I close my eyes, put my finger on the screen and whatever show my finger lands on is the show I will see.
That is how I ended up at the Castillo Theatre this past weekend. For starters, this was another hole in the wall venue that I had never heard about and took forever to get to but luckily, I made it at least fifteen minutes early and that is a glorious rarity. This audience was the most diverse audience I have been a part of in a very long time. I was surrounded by people of all races and varying age groups. I had absolutely no idea what this show was about, but now I was intrigued.
There were countless times throughout this show that I was blown away by the subject matter involved. This show deals with racism, oppression, inequality and the fight and desire for freedom and liberation. And while this play revolves around a time period that is long gone history, these topics are still so incredibly relevant and prevalent today and not just for people of color. I had absolutely no idea that people of color were a part of the Communist movement here in the United States. I had no idea that Whites and Blacks came together for the cause during that time in history. This is something that I don't think I was ever taught about in my history classes but it was raw and unfiltered on that stage. One line from the production that really stuck with me was when Addie, Willie's wife, is in jail and she talks to Bella about her husband who plays guitar sometimes at bars on the weekend. She says "Once they have a little bit of alcohol in them, all the anger they've been holding down inside them starts to come out. Black men beating on each other and the white man laughing." This. This was a "Wow. O M G." moment for me because if we turn on the news today, this is still happening. This is still an issue and it's really quite sad.
At the end of the show, when I thought my emotions couldn't handle anymore, the person next to me started to cry in an embrace with his wife. It was an older white gentleman and I was so touched to see this kind of show effect him the way it did. The entire audience waited at least thirty seconds in the darkness once the show ended to start clapping. When we did, it was loud and filled the space so much that I knew I was just a part of something special. On my way out, I donated money to the organization involved in getting young people on the stage (uh, hello!! This is MAJOR!), I filled out my thoughts on a card that would potentially get me a free ticket to a later event (YES PLEASE!) and I took all of my feelings home with me. Nothing is more heart wrenching than witnessing art that still strikes a cord. Everyone deserves our natural born human right of freedom and equality. EVERYONE. It's so sad that we still have to fight for it.