Play tackles common stereotypes

With Barack Obama in the White House, it could be safe to say that black people have undoubtedly come a long way.

However, after sitting through a showing of “The Colored Museum,” one could beg to differ.
Boasting a capable and clever cast along with dazzling lights and a brilliant set design, the Tallahassee Little Theatre’s production of George C. Wolfe’s award winning play proves that some of the same tribulations that black Americans faced years ago still exist this very day.

Directed by Rod Durham, the play consists of eleven provocative vignettes that wonderfully address and target different black stereotypes – and nothing is even remotely safe.

“The Colored Museum” tackles a number of different subjects – from how blacks are portrayed within the pages of Ebony magazine to the three dimensional characters of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.” Nothing is off limits.

While each vignette revolves around a specific lesson, all of them are dissimilar, but ultimately thought-provoking.

Each one manages to evoke some type of emotion from the audience, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean each skit is superb.

On the contrary, some seem to drag while others tend to stand out.

Ultimately, all work together to provide a clever illustration of black life and the daily struggles that African-Americans seem to deal with.

“The Colored Museum” first premiered in 1986 at The Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, N.J., and although the play is becoming a bit dated, the team behind the production has done quite a fine job in updating it for today’s audience.

Scene changes are accompanied by a mix of old and new school music; a cell phone is seen placed on a table during one skit, and a picture of President Barack Obama can be spotted on the set – and what a set it is.

Designed by Florida A&M University technical theatre student Ciara Butler, the set transforms with each skit providing a wonderful scenic change for different characters.

Bringing those diverse characters to life is an equally diverse cast that consists of Meredith Clark, Symiaha Clinton, Cedric Gay, Ryan Harris, Carol Hill, Nicholas Johnson, Shanika Mungin, and Dametria Selmore.

Durham has chosen a group of talented actors.

All eight individuals are wonderful in the roles that they play and hit all of the correct emotions in their monologues and interactions.

However, both Harris and Selmore truly manage to command all of their respective scenes.

As the hilarious Aunt Ethel, Selmore garners laughs as well as intent attention as she schools the audience on the ingredients of a black person.

As the foulmouthed Ms. Roj, Harris not only dawns a wig, but stilettos and a sassy demeanor that makes his particular vignette comedic, interesting and downright fabulous.

“The Colored Museum” only has three more performances scheduled in its run – March 6 and 7 at 8 p.m. and March 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12.

It may be 2009, but there are certainly a lot of things to learn from the performance. It’s exciting, stimulating, and ultimately very rousing and that in turn makes for an electrifying theatrical experience.