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Black Box Players brings racial dialogue to the forefront with ‘Dutchman’
Syracuse University’s Black Box Players opens its 20th-anniversary season with Imamu Amiri Baraka’s volatile Obie award-winning play “Dutchman.” The show opens Oct. 7 and runs through Oct. 15 at the Black Box Theatre, located in the Regent Theatre Complex, which houses the SU Drama Department and Syracuse Stage.
Perhaps Baraka’s most famous play, “Dutchman,” a title which directly references the legend of The Flying Dutchman, explores the problems faced by African Americans in everyday society. It tells the tale of a young, African American man named Clay and his encounter with a white woman on a subway car as it speeds underneath a city.
“Dutchman” was first produced off-Broadway in 1964, along with three other one-acts written by Baraka. It immediately became a highly significant piece of theater, as it identified societal issues between blacks and whites, not just issues found among African Americans. “Dutchman” received the Obie Award for Best American Play for the 1963-64 season. Baraka then became known for being a part of “revolutionary theatre,” and shortly after “Dutchman,” wrote an essay explaining that, “The Revolutionary Theatre should force change, it should be change,” and “must EXPOSE!”
Taking on the role of the Clay is sophomore musical theatre major Theodore M. Tinson, while sophomore acting major Lulu Fogarty is in the role of Lula. The part of the Young Negro is played by sophomore Ian Austin and the Conductor is played by senior Phillip Burke. Junior Carrie Flanagan plays the role of a subway passenger while also serving as the understudy for Lula.
Junior Marianne Ward, who serves as the scenic designer on this production and brings the audience into “the flying underbelly of the city.” Sophomore Holly Breuer furthers the notion of the characters’ distinctive personalities through her costume design. Senior Kim Carter designed the lights while senior Jason Shelton serves as sound designer. Junior Kaitlyn Bellenoit is the production’s stage manager.
All Black Box Players Productions are free. Seating is limited, so audience members should arrive at least a half hour prior to the performance to assure seating. For more information and to make reservations, call (315) 443-2102.