It’s been eight years since Black teenage Michael brown was both shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.
WOKE, written Dennis A. Williams and directed by Jason Ellis, takes place in the fall after that tragedy. It’s less about what happened to Brown and more about what happened to the world – the fire and in many cases, the rage – that sparked conversations, protests and changes across America. This movement pushed the #BlackLivesMatter as a hashtag, and a movement into homes, the streets and schools as a household name. hashtag and
Momentum Collective tackles these changes, and others, with WOKE. Set on the campus of the quiet subburban campus of DuSable University in Chicago, a tragedy occurs – another black man, a student of DuSable, is shot and killed at the hands of police.
What ensues is a series of protests, on the streets, in the college, and maybe most impactful, within and between the students. WOKE takes the audience member on a modern-day justice trip that has pit stops for racism, gender equality, social equity and weaves in boundaries and using one’s voice to make stands for self and others.
Stand outs include Simon Sinnreigh (Coltrane ‘Trane’ Joplin), who we struggled with adjusting with related to casting. Still, Joplin’s skill in the role and his energy, which was captivating, drew us in. Tiffany Gabrielle was delightful as Aya, adding the right amount of liveliness and humor as a central part of the play. Additionally, Virginia Raye (Raphaella, mother of Trane) gently reminded us of the guardians in our lives that have protected us from the evils that exist, even to a fault. A quick after play conversation revealed she influenced much of her wardrobe and set design herself.
One of the tell-tale signs of brilliance in art, is how well it tells a story and deeply it moves you. WOKE is surely moving and tells a story that is so ripe and relatable, that the eight years feel like yesterday. Today.
Momentum’s Collective Inc.’s “WOKE” ran for two days, Thursday and Friday of September 22 and 23, 2022, at the Nannie J Lee Memorial Recreation Center located 1108 Jefferson St, Alexandria, VA 22314. Stay in touch with the happenings by visiting the Momentum site.
Written by Dennis A. Williams (author of three novels) – Director – Jason Ellis; Stage Manager – Jason Ellis, Lighting Designer – Jon Van Voorhis, Multi-Media Assistant – Jason Ellis; Matthew Majors, Properties – Jason Ellis/Marilyn Edge, Set Construction – Dave Moretti/Jason Ellis, Set Design & Dressing – Jason Ellis, Marketing & Promotion – Jason Ellis, Photography – Giellen Medeiros, Front of House – Sheron Nelson/Joyvell Henry. See FULL Production List.
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