What's it about?
Two men create an artistic event based off of dozens of interviews of society-changing groups, reuniting them for a one night event.
What'd I experience?
This was a pretty spontaneous, last minute decision. I got two tickets to the show and decided to have a mother daughter date. I told my mom to get dressed, and we headed out the door.
Now, I was pretty excited. After a ton of school assignments and long work days, I was finally getting some much needed r&r with my mom, and man was she hilarious. We got to the Public Theater a bit early, so she decided that we should take some pictures by the NY monument photos across the street. I was totally down, so we take a bunch of selfies, and I recorded a few videos because her commentary always kills me. Not only did she check to make sure she looked good, but she also tried posing like one of the monuments. Needless to say, I was laughing and smiling the entire time.
We make our way back to the theater, take our seats, and my mood automatically shifts. I go from a happy camper to being lost in deep thought. Being the emotional wreck that I am, there were a bunch of moments that left me feeling a knot in my throat, one being Malik’s struggle with self-identity. He describes a time he visited his father, a Black Panther, in prison. His father laughs in his face as he tells Malik that he is in no way a Black Panther. Malik begins to question who he really is, wondering if being a black panther is who he’s supposed to be and what he’s supposed to do, since it’s all he’s known. The expression on Malik’s face as he retells the story is one I can relate to. I saw the struggle in his face as he tried to figure out where he belonged and what he was supposed to do, and I’ve felt the same way. I can identify with this struggle of knowing one’s identity being that I am mixed. Being Egyptian and Filipino, I felt that I never fit in with either nationality. The mixture only confused me more, as I struggled to figure out who I was and where I fit into the world. To be honest, I still find myself struggling and trying to accept that I am a mixture, which makes me no less and no more of one nationality versus the other.
As the show continued, and topics like Black Lives Matter came up, I began to question what we as a society are supposed to do about it all. These activists recount their stories of being a Black Panther or a Young Lord and the struggles they went through. They took to the streets, fought for change and made it, which makes me wonder what are we doing now? The activists call the younger generation “armchair revolutionaries,” and I can’t really argue with that. I began thinking about how the same problems continue to arise over time and instead of being like these activists, we choose to sit behind our screens and pretend that we make some difference, but what action are we really taking? Are we really creating change simply by talking about it? Their answer? No. They say not to romanticize revolution but to actually do it. It’s about going to the front lines and doing something, but as I thought about that, I wondered what could we do? How many people will die for something bigger than us? For it to only be repeated again and again over time? I began to understand both sides. On the one hand action speaks louder than words and if we want something done, then we have to do it ourselves. On the other hand, I understand that we live in a different age with different circumstances and technology, so wouldn’t accessing a larger platform be the way to go? The first thing we should do? I can’t seem to find the perfect answer to this riddle, and I’m not really sure there is one.
The play ends with each activist walking through a door full of bullet holes. The door which belonged to a man, a comrade of theirs, that was wrongfully murdered in his own home. As they each walked through the door, they let go of the anger they’ve built inside them and pay their respects to those they’ve lost. Pretty touching ending if you ask me, but I walked out wanting an answer to what we should do. Is it take action? Walk the streets and create the difference we want no matter the cost? Or is it trying to create a revolution with the new advancements at our disposal and then collectively taking action? And will we actually take that action if we do that? Or will we grow comfortable and content with complacency behind a screen? You decide.
Want to see it?
$20 Mobile Lottery
@ Public Theater
thru Dec. 11
What did you experience?
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