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This Critic Refuses “The Shipment”

Triangle Arts and Entertainment apologizes profusely to Black Ops Theatre, Little Green Pig, and Common Ground Theatre for the “review” previously republished on our site. We are associated with Triangle Theatre Review, a theatre newsletter, in that the publication requests to republish some of its reviews on our site. However, we would NEVER condone a reviewer leaving a show and are sorry to have published a “review” where this grievous type of misjudgment was involved, even if it was not directly from one of our own reviewers. From this point forward, we will be more carefully and closely involved in selecting reviewers to make sure they have the necessary understanding and capacity to review multi-layered theatrical productions and in screening the reviews published on our site.

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews

4 Responses

  1. How exactly would you know where that line is when you walked out now 15 min into the production. Yes, the tiny portion that upset you personally used adult language, offensive vulgar topics that, honestly, I’ve I’ve heard worse rom actual comedians not in a play which is brilliantly making a point.

    That segment was trying to get your goat and for good reason. That character had a lot of important things to say about racist thought. The vulgar humour (which i doubt anyone liked, it was shocking that was the point) was mixed in with racially accepted thoughts, and yes, the character invited those to leave who didn’t like it, but if you had realized you were being challenged, and not bailed on the conversation. You would’ve seen the other 80% of the show was just as brilliant, smart, funny, important and completely lacking in the offensive that made you walk out.

    Instead the only offensive thing in this play is how we’re not able to open our own mind to ingrained, repeated and insidiously hidden racism faster. Maybe you could try again?

    I promise it’ll be worth it, and you’ll learn a lot. Then you could write an accurate review. When invited to a conversation, one shouldn’t leave before it begins in earnest.

  2. This critic refused The Shipment because she left early so this assessment most likely would be deemed null and void. The Shipment is the perfect algebraic equation A+B=C and if you cant get past A, then the equation doesn’t work. The Shipment, by Young Jean Lee is absolutely in your face, at times grossly uncomfortable and seemingly overtly crude until you are able to see the bigger message that it brings. The play attempts to use these factors to explain the cultural dichotomy between Blacks and Whites in America and does so beautifully. The five member cast needed no elaborate props or costume changes for the audience to grasp the message of the piece. It was meant to be in your face so that beyond the humor the audience could FEEL the power behind the message. At a time in our society where racial tensions are at an all time high, this play actually makes grand strides at explaining- even in its shorter running time-the ROOT of the stereotypes and racial inequalities in the country.
    In my greatest opinion I feel that “This Critic” most likely began to feel uncomfortable being white in a situation where white STEREOTYPES were being addressed in an uncomfortable way. Instead of taking it, swallowing it and saying “Fuck that Shit” as Ron Lee McGill’s character suggested (like Blacks always have to do) you left.
    In grade school had I tried to give an Answer to the equation A+B=C without knowing the necessary factors to solve the problem, it would have been wrong! SO answer me one question “This Critic”- Did you pass math in grade school or did you just give up when it became too hard?

  3. Pamela and Kurt you missed the point! The whole first half the play is “things as they are” while the second half is “things as they could be.” The first half is full of Black stereotypes–the drug dealer, the aspiring rapper, the concerned mama, the Black comedian who talks about race, etc. The playwright and her actors wrote the comedian’s part to say, “There are some grains of truth in racial comedy, and yes it can be funny, but why do Black comedians like HAVE to talk about race?” The in-your-face Black comedian is a trope, and he’s purposely tasteless because he’s a caricature, just like the other characters in the first half the show.

    The scene after the comedian features an aspiring rapper who starts dealing drugs and goes to prison, where he undergoes a religious conversion at the hands of a fellow prisoner (another Black trope). Again, the playwright is saying, “Why do Black actors always get shoved into these same roles, these same stereotypes, when the reality of who Black people are is so broad and varied?”

    The second half the show plays like an episode of Seinfeld, a show about nothing, and race isn’t even mentioned the whole act (with one notable exception which I won’t reveal because it would be a spoiler!)

    You owe it to yourself and your readers to give the show a fair shake and see the whole thing!

    P.S. I’m white…because maybe that matters here?

  4. I respectfully disagree.

    Whenever a performance disturbs me, I stop myself and ask “why?” among other things. What was the intent? What was the execution? Who was the intended audience? What cultural references do I need to understand what was presented?

    As an African American audience member (and practitioner), I often have to have Wikipedia handy when I engage some works of art. Sometimes, it’s tedious. Other times, joyful. At all times, I am encountering the human condition.

    We are living in an age, where African American men and women are dying needlessly. In our own state, citizens are questioning the morality of our elected leadership. With this backdrop, I cannot but applaud entrepaneurialship, professionalism and courage of this group.

    This work is not for easy consumption. To merely consume them is to let them fester in the belly. To engage them adds another layer of understanding to contemporary Black performance.

    Had you been able to stay, you might have experienced the total breadth and depth of the individual performances. After years of study, these local Black artist put their skills to the test. Their talent is fresh, imaginative and new. What they produced was a nuanced interpretation of life and theatre.

    I encourage you to go back and see the entire performance. Argue with the playwright, if you must, if you think the material is old ground. However, dismissing a performance that you have not seen is malfeasance. In essence, you are participating in the oppression that formed the foundation of this art.

    There is no Supreme Court to overturn your review. I respect your right to have an opinion. Simultaneously, I unapologetically think you are wrong.