What it's about.
A photograph can say a thousand words. How about 40 photographs, taken every year since 1977? They say more than just words, they show time itself. 20th Century Blues is about four women who reunite once a year to take a photograph together.
Four women met in prison back in the 70's. In the words of our main character, Danny: "If you didn't spend one night in prison, are you even living?"
Thank the heavens and the goddess herself that these women met. They formed a bond that spanned over four decades.
Meet Danny. Danny is a highly acclaimed photographer. The MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) is doing a retrospective on her. In other words, her life achievement. For her installation, Danny has chosen to showcase a collection of photographs taken over the course of 40 years. She tells us all of this in a TED Talk. This part was so cool, because I felt like I was apart of the Ted Talk, and by extension apart of the world of the play. Talk about inception...
FLASHBACK to a couple months leading up to all of this:
IT’S THE ANNUAL REUNION!
Danny is planning on breaking the news to the women about her plans for MOMA. Thing is, she needs their permission to use the photographs. However, obtaining this proves to be a struggle.
The first of the gal pals we meet is Gabby! Guys, if I have to give you one reason to see the show, do it for Gabby! MY GOODNESS, I mean all of these women are amazing in their own right, but man I LOVE GABBY. A hippie. A veterinarian. And an all around lovable human being, Gabby is the life of the party. Not to mention she’s hilarious with her one liners. Here’s one:
"Am I that out of touch with the sexual vibrations of the world??"
That is Gabby's response when she learns that Danny and Mac (more about her soon) had a fling back in the day. I think a big reason why Gabby's character resonated with me is because I know a couple of people in my life that are exactly like her. She's like a human teddy bear.
Mac. Girl tells it like it is. She doesn't play games. Mac is a strong black gay woman who has made a name for herself by becoming a renowned investigative reporter. She's got everything going for her. She lives in a nice apartment in NYC with her partner, Jane. Mac is at the top of her game and now, because she's nearing 65, the newspaper she's worked for for over three decades is giving her the boot.
Similarly, Sil, a realtor, is also confronting ageism in her industry. She thinks she can solve it by having plastic surgery to look younger.
This show had a lot of references to the 20th century, and seeing as I was born in '99, I was pretty much lost. I laughed mindlessly, as to not be left out of the fun. However, I was not apart of the inside jokes...
Even though I'm only 18, I still was able to empathize with the women. AGEISM is still very much relevant to me. Relating it back to the real world, I can see this with the way that Hollywood or the music industry disposes of its artists, especially WOMEN, once they turn 40. Unless you're Meryl freakin' Streep (who's the goddess), casting opportunities for older actresses are rare. Interesting to note is how intertwined these things are: ageism and sexism. For instance, take someone like Johnny Depp (who's 54), he is by no means experiencing a drought in his career. Women, on the other hand, do not have that luxury. For more on this, click on this article in which some of Hollywood's prominent actresses discuss this issue.
Now I don't know about you, but this is an issue that especially concerns me, especially considering the fact that I myself am a performer. The thought of being disposed of once I reach a specific age is outrageous. This play is an important one because it tackles that issue head on, through the lens of these four amazing women. These women are strong, and they will not go down without a fight.
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