By Bob Evans
All aboard the Celebrity air ship and buckle your shackles. Yep, that’s the way “The Colored Museum,” the current production of The Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City begins.
The head hostess/stewardess of Celebrity welcomes guests as the ship embarks on its trip to America, but along the way, the ship undergoes a black hole, a time-warp, of a sense, and touches on the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, all wars after that, the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. MLK, Malcolm X, and more before landing and disembarking.
“The Colored Museum,” by George C. Wolfe, so wrong, so politically incorrect, but oh, so right begins the second show of the BRKC’s second season. In the hands of director/Black Rep. Founder, Damron Russel Armstrong, the satirical play opens with a shocking “luxury” cruise on a slave ship from darkest Africa bound for America. Instead of “fasten your seatbelts,” it’s “fasten your shackles.” And, that’s just the beginning.
From that point on, prepare to have a lot of short sketches and vignettes rub your face into Black stereotypes and situations, all with lots of fun and laughs, but each with a knife-splitting morality and reality to examine. The two-act play lampoons many stereotypes yet strips them bare with each vignette. Even the black drag queens get lampooned in this as Miz Roz delivers a stinging monologue. Ebony models who depict the lifestyle never achieved cut to the quick of published photo-journalism.
Most times, even the most disgusting and pitiful truths can be advanced through laughter. As the audience laughs along with each monologue, the end result of each piece brings the reality that what was just displayed contains deep meaning, and looms as opposite of what was just seen.
For his cast, Armstrong selects local actors to create opportunities for them to advance their art with projects featuring predominately African-American actors. For this production, he selected Amber McKinnon, Jerron O’Neal, Ryan Webster, Teonna Wesley, and Connie Jones. The artistic staff for “the Colored Museum” is: Melonnie Walker, assistant director; Megan Greenlee, stage manager; Ryan Webster, costumes/wigs; Scott Hobart, set design/building; Laura Swan, sound design; Anthony Edwards, musical recording; Jason Piggie, projection design; ArtsTech students, additional props; Annette Armstrong & Angelica Louis, box office.
“The Colored Museum” continues at the ArtsTech (upstairs), 1522 Holmes Street, KCMO, through March 4. Tickets may be purchased at the door or through The Black Repertory Theatre website.
Tags: “The Colored Museum”, The Black Rep, Black Rep KC, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment