What it’s about
Dutch Masters centers around two teens - one black and one white - that meet on an uptown D train. Both characters face a journey, where a cultural conflict gets in the way of a newfound friendship.
I huffed and puffed my way inside the Wild Project building. I checked the time on my iPhone that read 7:55 pm with a smile from ear to ear knowing that I made it on time.
I thought I would be late since the J train thought it would be nice to hold the train almost every stop for “we were being held momentarily by the train’s dispatcher”. The same old excuse the L train used a couple of weeks ago to hide the fact that the Bedford Ave station was on fire… literally.
The auditorium felt like a time machine that took me back to the 1990's. The graffiti covering the back wall of the stage filled my eyes as the sound of old school 90’s hip-hop filled my ears. The people in the room were rapping along to the songs that I was unfamiliar with for I was merely a fetus in the 90’s. The sight of people in ripped jeans and sneakers made my black pants and low cut boots feel very much out of place. This was all thanks to my high school theater teacher who would always condemn jeans as “inappropriate theatre attire”.
The show started and the sound of screeching train wheels filled the room. “Oh boy does that sound familiar,” I thought to myself. As the play began, I found the train scenario very relatable. After self-diagnosing myself as claustrophobic five years ago, it is like entering a battlefield getting on the NYC Subway.
Not only is having the fear of being stuck in a cart for Lord knows how long scary enough. You also have to deal with the fear of not knowing what or who you will be stuck on the train with. Therefore, I found Steve’s (Jake Horowitz) defensive behavior towards Eric (Ian Duff) to be very relatable.
As the play progressed, the preconceived notions each character had of the other’s culture began to diminish. For instance, Steve’s knowledge of hip-hop culture, which can be seen as a contrast to his privileged upbringing.
In addition to the understanding that Eric’s intentions were pure, which was not projected at the beginning of the play due to the stereotypes people of color fall under. Therefore, these two characters who are from different backgrounds form an unexpected friendship. This friendship that comes to an end due to the same preconceived notions of each other’s race they are unable to avoid.
Watching Dutch Masters was like my first time on the Kingda Ka at Six Flags...
... Ok, bad analogy.
The point is on the Kingda Ka you expect one thing and leave feeling another way. Dutch Masters first appeared to be a funny play about two people from two different backgrounds having an awkward yet hilarious encounter on a NYC subway. Then towards the end of the play, you are left experiencing an emotional journey. Dutch Masters demonstrates what happens when cultures collide and how much NYC subways suck.
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