When nine huge voices opened with passion, soul, & unity – I know immediately that Theater Alliance’s Day of Absence would be different. And different it was.
“We will not bow down to your racism.
We will not bow down to injustice.
We will not bow down to exploitation.
I’m gonna stand. I’m gonna stand…”
And stand we did – in giving an ovation to the cast, crew and entire team for the well done performance and for bringing the embedded conversations to the forefront.
The play’s setting is in an average small southern town in the early 1900s. As it goes, the local African Americans, who’s value is weaved a bit more into their culture than many of the local Whites think and care to appreciate, disappear for an entire day. The white population in the town is then forced to perform the duties normally would be done by the African-Americans. Day of Absence is a sort of anti-minstrel show, where black actors donned white face and show the perspectives from the side of ‘white folks.’
The brainchild of Douglas Turner Ward and first performed in 1965, Theater Alliance brings meat to this 50 year old award-winning gumbo of racism, stereotypes and historical darkness.
In addition to the formal story, the play contains comedy, singing and magic tricks – all of which are on par with how minstrel shows were years ago. It begins with a notice that it is OK to laugh AND be uncomfortable. This is both refreshing and foreshadowing of feelings many in the audience are guaranteed to experience.
Day of Absence is a treat for the entire family and groups of friends – bringing showmanship, history, & laughter – while also creating a safe space for some hard to have conversations. Go see it!
Theater Alliance’s Day of Absence plays through November 3, 2019 at the Anacostia Playhouse – 2020 Shannon Place SE, Washington, DC. Get your tickets online or call 202.241.2539. For easy directions see: http://www.anacostiaplayhouse.com/getting-here.