Sunday, March 21st, there was a very special event at Juilliard, concerning the recent production of Branden Jacob-Jenkins’ Neighbors. The evening brought a variety of panelists together. A few Blackboard attendees were also there, and the atmosphere was safe enough for a 4 hour plus dialogue which included the post-discussion reception.
I did not see Neighbors, so my experience with the play is limited to two discussions, one before and this one, after the play. Before the play opened, Blackboard had a Community Discussion, “NEW VOICES in BLACK THEATRE” on January 11, 2010. The discussion was very similar to what happened last Sunday at “The Yard”. The panel was moderated by Artistic Associate at The Public, Jocelyn Prince and included black and white members of the Neighbors’ cast, in addition to academics, writers, a sociologist, an actor, and other theatre and non-theatre professionals who one-by-one commented on their experience with the production and how it related to the world outside of the play.
The one thing I can say about this play, given these discussions, is that it evokes a variety of responses, and a litany of paper topics for any scholar.
A common and perhaps the most obvious theme from these discussions deals with identity. How we see ourselves as Blacks in Theatre, Blacks in America or even Blacks throughout the Diaspora and how others see us.
So Kudos to “The Yard” for their efforts in organizing such a fantastic event! This is a wonderful group of students that will bring a lot of great to the community!
Looking forward to the next event!