Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-08-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

THEATER REVIEW An Octoroon
by Mary Shen Barnidge
2017-08-02

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Playwright: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. At: Definition Theater at the Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: $15-$40. Runs through: Aug. 20

What you need to know about the play called The Octoroon is that it was authored by Dion Boucicault in 1848, and recounted the story of a proud Louisiana family menaced by a neighboring slaveholder bent on seizing their property, along with the young mixed-race woman of the play's title. ( Officially, an octoroon is someone who is one-eighth Black by descent. )

It was lauded by audiences in both the Northern and Southern United States for its sympathetic portrayals of non-white characters—albeit stopping short of allowing its interracial lovers to marry, instead orchestrating the selfless suicide of its despairing heroine. Oh, and its resolution featured the latest in antebellum state-of-the-art technology: photography.

The play dubbed An Octoroon—note the change from definite to indefinite article—is Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' examination of racial attitudes reflected in popular entertainment conceived by 19th-century playwrights. His deconstruction begins with his stand-in, "BJJ," explaining to us that all his white actors refused to play racist characters, forcing him to don Joey-clown whiteface, himself, in order to perform the dual roles of hero and villain. Native American actors likewise being in short supply, the part of just such a "noble savage" will be taken by the artificially scarlet visiting ghost of Dion Boucicault—stay with me, now—while the latter's assistant will be cast across racial and gender lines to portray grizzled Old Pete, wearing Javanese-puppet makeup.

With a premise like this, it should come as no surprise when the maids deliver exposition couched in modern colloquialisms, the piano accompaniment comprises faux-Stephen Foster arrangements of modern pop ditties like "You Don't Own Me" and Br'er Rabbit serves as a Thornton Wilder-styled stage manager.

A rule of thumb when constructing multidimensional meta-commentaries on existing texts is to write your commentary first, and then insert the source material in the remaining space. Melodrama is a hefty hunk of stage picture, even with Boucicault's "sensation scene" ( spectacle involving a steamship fire ) compressed into an ensemble-narrated synopsis. Director Chuck Smith is to be commended for reining in his cast's natural propensity for rushing material drawn from the original script for the sake of camp-giggles, but actors today being better trained for sprints than marathons, the energy level on opening night couldn't help but falter in the heavy-lifting second act. This temporary setback, however, proved no impediment to Jenkins' always-astute observations or the insights provided thereby.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Sedaris, Ginsburg, Ailey dancers part of Auditorium's season 2017-08-16 - The Auditorium Theatre announced its 2017-18 season under new Chief Executive Officer Tania Castroverde Moskalenko—along with its new tagline, "The Theatre for the ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Engage! 2017-08-16 - Playwright: Brendan T. Stallings. At: Stellar Productions at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets: 773-975-8150; TheaterWit.org; $20. Runs through: Aug. 25 ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Monticello 2017-08-16 - Playwright: Thomas Geoghegan. At: Aurora Theater Works at the St. Bonaventure Oratory, 1625 N. Ashland Ave. Tickets: $20. Runs through: Sept. 3 ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Food Show 2017-08-16 - Playwright: Dan Kerr-Hobert, Caitlin Stainken and the ensemble. At: The Neo-Futurists at the Metropolitan Brewery, 3031 N. Rockwell St. Tickets: $10-$25. Runs through: ...


Gay News

THEATER Critics' Picks 2017-08-16 - Hir, Steppenwolf Theatre, through Aug. 20. It's hard to like the characters in Taylor Mac's darkly distorted family sitcom, but only a joker ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical 2017-08-16 - Music: Galt MacDermot. Book & Lyrics: Gerome Ragni & James Rado.Directed by: Brenda Didier. At: Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 N. Southport Ave. Tickets: ...


Gay News

THEATER SPOTLIGHT Gypsy 2017-08-16 - Reacquaint yourself with the musical theater world's ultimate "stage mother from hell" when Music Theater Works presents the 1959 Broadway classic Gypsy. The ...


Gay News

George Takei in Chicago on Sept. 7 2017-08-16 - In conjunction with its first original exhibition "Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil ...


Gay News

'Cards Against Humanity' Aug. 25 2017-08-16 - Cards Against Humanity Live will return one night only on Friday, Aug. 25, at 8 p.m. at The Greenhouse Theater Center ( downstairs ...


Gay News

'Bewildered' cast announced 2017-08-16 - Hell in a Handbag Productions, celebrating its 15th-anniversary season, has announced casting for the world premiere of Bewildered—a musical parody of the classic ...


 



Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.