Colored Museum amazes and exhilarates

Under the direction of Kathryn Bentley, assistant professor of theater and dance, The Colored Museum proved a clever and poignant way to end this year’s Black History Month.

“The play was good… it was exhilarating,” said Anika Maddox, senior accounting major, who attended Sunday’s show. “I definitely think it touched on history and it also touched on some modern features of black culture – just some struggles and things that we go through that people might not see.”

The Colored Museum, performed in the Dunham Hall Theater on February 23-27.

The brainchild of playwright George C. Wolfe, The Colored Museum is described by Bentley in her director’s notes as “a piece of theater that challenges us all to look at ourselves as Americans and to love ourselves, appreciate ourselves and laugh at ourselves … the content is so layered and so contemporary that I don’t think it will ever go out of style.”

On February 23-27, a cast of nine actors and six dancers challenged audiences with messages about self-definition, identity, slavery, oppression and a host of other perspectives of African American culture. The play takes the form of a living museum and each scene is an exhibit offering some stirring commentary on the history and experiences of African Americans.

Making the cast were Ashley Bland (Hairpiece/LaLa/Lady in Plaid), Curtis Lewis (Walter Lee/The Kid/Junie/Model), Barry Moton (Miss Roj), Olivia Neal (Miss Pat/Aunt Ethel/Janine/Mama/Admonia), Daniel Shields (Waiter/Dancer), Gabe Taylor (The Man/Narrator/Florence), Sharaina Turnage (Topsy/Model/Wanda/Medea/Normal Jean), Mulenga Kapatamayo and Craig Williams.

Jessica Bailey, Alex Easton, Tatiana McDonald, Rico Velazquez, Recie Wilson-Wiley and Terrel Young starred as dancers.

Audiences leaving each production of The Colored Museum seemed captivated by its thought-provoking and sometimes provocative themes.

The Colored Museum challenged attendees to powerful and poignant themes.

“The [scene with the] black afro versus the straight hair – that’s definitely something I’m going through right now. Hair is a big part of identity – especially with black women.”

Some students were drawn to the masterful set design, lighting and other technical aspects of the production.

“I thought the play was amazing. I liked the graphics and how they set up the stage. I liked all the scenes and how they were from the different eras of time. I also liked the dancing and singing – the musical parts,” said Robert Flowers, sophomore pre-nursing student.

According to Bentley, The Colored Museum is “a play that will stick with you forever.” SIUE’s production, by all accounts, has certainly made its mark.

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Filed Under: Black StudiesTheater & Dance


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