Thursday, April 20, 2017

Play a Day: Underground

Lisa. B. Thompson
For Thursday morning I read Underground by Lisa B. Thompson, and available on New Play Exchange.

Two men, activists together in college, now in their middle years, have an intense and uncomfortable reunion. Issues of race, class and modern conflict are heartily debated, and exactly what is at stake is not revealed until the final moments.

This work has been in development since 2014, though the subject matter deals with current events in a manner which must demand constant revision from its author. The version I read, which was recently produced at The Vortex in Austin, was uploaded just this morning.

Though they never mention him by name, the men discuss the fate of Tamir Rice. When one rattles off a list of those American cities which have experienced real life uprising and protest in the past few years, however, in "Ferguson, in Baltimore, Oakland, New York," where thousands marched and demanded that Black Lives Matter, Cleveland is conspicuous in its absence.

Because it didn't happen here, not in those numbers. Not with the same impact. Frustration over our community's apparent inability to rise up in protest was a major theme in the recent production of Objectively/Reasonable.

That frustration, the refusal to engage, to participate, especially from those in positions of authority and respect, makes for powerful drama in this play, too.

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