night after night I EMERGE from backstage to greet the paying audience of the flowertown players' theatre community/patrons and night after night i'm greeted in return with unfavorable responses. it wasn't until this morning, two weeks into the run with one week left and 8 performances under my belt, that I realized it has nothing to do with my PERFORMANCE but everything to do with who I am; A black man. i'm "west side storying" it while black- it's because I'm black, hear me out. I have been in other productions where I have portrayed a "black" non-violent, less if at all AGGRESSIVE character and have RECEIVED a far greater response than I am RECEIVING now. Not only am I a "bad guy", but I'm a "Black bad guy".
in this production I am in every stereotypical situation known to the black population, just represented on stage. And not only are the STEREOTYPES evident, there is also the fear of not only blacks, but black men especially in regards to the past and present media, history, and events. As if being in a gang wasn't enough, Within the first 10 minutes of the performance I have committed vandalism, spat on a white, and have been involved in a PHYSICAL altercation; all reflecting the black race in a negative light and living up to the STEREOTYPES that blacks are violent, confrontational, disrespectful, vandalist, trouble makers, ETC. Throughout the production [I] my character is subject to INTIMIDATION BY WHITE SUPREMACY and prejudice and By the end of the performance I have committed the most offending act to the white POPULATION both in the production as well as out and that is the killing of Tony by Chino, whom I portray. "A black man has just shot and killed a white man", I'm sure the audience must all think and/or say quietly to themselves as they look on. And if they don't I applaud their freedom of thought.
I HAVE BEEN GIVEN VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING THE PUERTO RICAN COMMUNITY FROM A CAST MEMBER AND I'VE LEARNED THAT THERE IS A GREAT NUMBER OF THEIR POPULATION THAT IS OF AFRICAN DECENT AND CULTURE, HMMMMM. Now that I take retrospect on how this casting has come to FRUITION the way that it has, I wonder if I have been setup? Duped? Have I been the victim of racial profiling or better yet for this production and turn of events, type cast? As long as I've been in this production I have wondered as to if I am viewed as the "black guy that kills the white guy"? of course no one is going to say that out LOUD or in those exact words, but that DOESN'T mean it hasn't been thought of. By no means have I been treated UNJUSTLY or with ill intent by the cast or crew, but have received nothing but respect, love, and kindness and that's what counts when you're working so closely for an extended period of time with a group of people or with someone. Clearly as an AUDIENCE member, how can you not see the racial IMPLICITLY in the acts committed and not look upon not only my character, but race and not be prejudice and/or JUDGMENTAL? I would hope that as a patron of the theatre you would look outside of race and embrace the story and message that lies therein, but with the society the way is it and the acts of racial discrimination my hope could be just that, a hope.
At the end of the day I am still a black man and do not in anyway wish to change that nor am i interested in forcing anyone to believe otherwise; I am an actor. It is not my responsibility to eject or disengage your RACIAL discrimination making you aware of and/or be apart of the story that is unfolding before you. Theatre is an expression of art, history, and emotion. It is a community and gathering of the open minds and has no room for judgement or prejudice. Each actor on that stage or before you is a canvas of the effort and work that they have poured themselves onto to paint a picture for you to understand and empathize with; leave your personal OPINION and bias at the door. I am honored and elated to perform for you and open our world (i.e. production) to you, but only if you're mature enough to welcome it in the spirit it is being shared.
"If truth be told I am everything you think I am not because I am, but because you thought me to be."
(PEACE + LOVE = HAPPINESS)
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!