Friday, May 18, 2012
Given the generally sparkling reviews for “Dessa Rose,” I was wondering whether folks would rise up in indignation after my not-always-positive ramblings about the musical a couple of days ago. In case anyone is holding back, I’m more than open to well-reasoned or at least articulate rebuttals to the things I said about the show. If I’ve missed points other people got, I’d love to be enlightened.
Kind of suddenly – or at least suddenly for me since I’ve been kind of out of the loop for a few weeks – spring is full of music in Richmond. At the beginning of 2012, we had “Patsy Cline” and hardly anything else musical-wise (“Stinky Cheese” notwithstanding). But now, “Church Basement Ladies” is still hanging on and three musicals opened over the course of the past 3 weeks. And Facebook is already rumbling about the beginning of rehearsals for “Spring Awakening” and talk of “Rocky Horror” is starting. And there’s this little thing SPARC is doing called “Live Art” – OK, I jest; it’s going to be huge – that’ll have its day in the sun in a couple of weeks. Tunes are flowing freely now from our stages – it’s a good time to see, and listen to, a show.
A few weeks ago, the eloquent John Porter talked about themes running through local productions. Personally, I’ve been noticing an interesting willingness so far this year for local companies to jump into the race discussion. This will move to a new level with Henley Street’s “Yellowman,” opening next week, but we’ve already had the subject put out there for consideration in “You Don’t Know Me,” “Scorched Earth,” “Dessa Rose,” and maybe even a little bit in “Topdog/Underdog.” I find this very intriguing. It’s been my thinking for years that Richmond could be a particularly potent location to bring the American conversation about race to new places. We have a diverse community in here – there are significant African-American, Latino, and Asian-American enclaves – but, in my own probably very limited view, there isn’t a whole lot of intermingling between these populations. Any time race is brought to the fore, certainly the potential for conflict and a rise in tension is possible. But particularly when art is the medium, I think the potential for insight and even revelation is great.
I’ll look forward to hearing what people say about “Yellowman.” And maybe, someday, I’ll be reading something in some national publication about the boldness of a Richmond artistic community willing to plumb the depths of Richmond’s tortured legacy when it comes to race.
Posted by Dave T at 11:05 AM