BWW Review: BALTIMORE Explores Racial Tension at Intrepid Theatre Lab

BWW Review: BALTIMORE Explores Racial Tension at Intrepid Theatre LabIn its signature way, Intrepid Theatre Lab has again brought the new and bold to Sacramento. This time they have done it with "Baltimore", a work by Boston playwright Kirsten Greenidge. Titled such after the poem, "Incident", by Countee Cullen, it was commissioned in 2014 by the Big Ten Theatre Consortium with the goal of narrowing the gap in representation of women in theatre.

"Baltimore" is not only a discussion on race, but a look into the microcosm of the college experience and the bias that we all exhibit. It focuses on Shelby (Zemmoia Bryant), a reluctant resident advisor at a liberal arts college. She is happy in her insular world that consists of sports medicine and trying to make her parents happy. Tasked with interviewing the first African American dean of the college, who has made a name for herself in the civil rights arena, Shelby falters and fails in her attempt because she believes that she is living in a "post-race world". Once an incident occurs in her dorm, she is forced to reevaluate what it means to live as a person of color in America.

Her residents then probe the subject of racism through searing dialogue that, at times, comes across more as discourse. They are college students secure in the certainty that their activism is spurred by righteous anger and a familial history, no matter the background, that exposes them to the intricacies of intra-racial prejudices. As the song from Avenue Q suggests, everyone IS a little bit racist sometimes. The Japanese American states that her relatives make fun of her for being too dark, too fat, and looking too American. The Latina says that there are good kinds (Venezuelan) and bad kinds (Mexican) of Latinos. What could have been a legitimate outcry for examination of Ferguson, Sanford, St. Paul, and others, instead turned into a thoughtful examination on race relations in our country. It is meant to spur conversation and change and leave the audience with a desire to question their own views on race and how they can improve relations within their community.

Theatre students from San Joaquin Delta College make up the cast of "Baltimore", bringing a youthful energy and enthusiasm for the subject matter. Professor and director Greg Foro made an excellent choice in casting the experienced Donna Marie as Dean Hernandez, a role originally meant for a male actor. She is a welcome beacon of maturity and guidance for the tumultuous teenage emotions played out on stage.

"Baltimore" plays at the Guild Theatre June 7-9 and June 14-16 at 8 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at baltimore.brownpapertickets.com. While you're there, don't miss Casey McClellan's (Broadway World Award-winning director) cupcakes!

Photo Credit: Yarcenia Garcia

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