What's it about ?
Dolphins and Sharks takes place in a modern day printing office in Harlem. As the neighborhood gets overrun with gentrification, the office starts to feel this new wave.
What I experienced?
I have an odd relationship with gentrification. I grew up in Clinton Hill, a predominately Black neighborhood before 2008 really rolled in. Still living there, I've watched this neighborhood change over my 19 years of living. That means this play relates a lot to who I am. The reason I say I have an odd relationship with gentrification is because it's affected me and my whole family. Constant battles with landlords over rent prices, trying to kick my family out to turn my apartment into a duplex, the constant uncaring attitude of the building, and even worse when I walk outside I get looks like I don't belong. EVEN THOUGH I'VE BEEN HERE FOR LITERALLY 19 YEARS.
I say I have an odd relationship, though, because even though I hate gentrification with a passion, I do reap SOME of the benefits it presents to me as a 19 yr old college kid. I love the Chipotle that's a block away, I love the Starbucks that's only a block after that! I love all those things but I also realize that they kill all of us who were here before and have been here all along.
I'll get back to me later though, now about the play...
The play takes place in Harlem, which is another spot being gentrified in the city. Four workers who all identify as either Black or Hispanic are the sales associates and one janitor, but when a spot opens up for the manager position, we notice a break in the group. Xiomara, the sales associate who identifies as Dominican, is granted the job for what the others believe is due to her good looks. Even though she promises them that nothing will change and she will make the work place better for all the employees, those promises seem to slowly fade.
The play means a lot to me because it opened my eyes. As a minority, I look at others like me as brothers and sisters. We're all in this fight together, so why not act like it? Instead of clawing at each other like crabs in a barrel, why can't we work together to get out of where we are?
Once a person recognizes the effects of gentrification and what it does to people, you realize this country isn't so far from its past. One of the biggest quotes from the play that'll continue to stick with me is "What'll you do?" So I ask you, What will you do?
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What did you experience?
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