I saw “Man of Good Hope”

What I saw: “Man of Good Hope” at the BAM Opera House in Brooklyn, NY

“I think this is an opera house.
See how it says ‘opera?'”
What I did beforehand: drove to Brooklyn, being re-routed twice, and arriving to discover that the parking garage described on the website did not exist (and there was a coupon you had to print out to use it). Also, there was a Rangers game at the Barclay Center, so the streets of downtown Brooklyn were full of sober, pre-game hockey fans.

What I wore: Chinese-made Australian boots, favorite jeans, Tanner indigo belt, feelings sweater, earrings that kept trying to fall out.

Who went with me: my dear friend W., who was born in Zambia.

How I got tickets: online, when I realized I would not, as promised, be able to take her to the recent revival of “Master Harold and the Boys” because those tickets were $30 and they sold like hotcakes.

Why I saw this show: I am a sucker for a story about refugees.

Where I sat: Mezzanine Row A, seat 18

Things that were sad: stories about refugees are always filled with death and fear and loss and terrible set-backs.


Things that were funny/not funny: the part about the little boy living on the streets of Nairobi who went from one house to the next and every night had a dinner with a different family, and the song about how America is safe, how there are no guns here, how everyone drives big trucks and everyone is rich.

Something I ate: hummus and pita chips, standing in the lobby, while trying to balance a beer in my other hand. 


What it is: a profoundly moving, engrossing, and lively production, featuring African music and dance and a refugee story that is both utterly like and unlike any others. 


Who should see it: people who, like me, believe that all shows should have live music; people who, like me, believe that if you are going to have live music you must place the musicians where the audience can see them; people who, like me, who are working very hard right now to remember what good things America is supposed to represent to people in the rest of the world; people who, like me, know and love several immigrants.

What I saw at home, two days later: W. texted me that she was still thinking about it. 
I am, too.

I saw "Eclipsed"

What I saw: “Eclipsed,” a play by Danai Gurira at the Golden Theater on W 45th

Crowded sidewalk, W 45th, NYC

What I wore: the same thing I wore this other time except I got sweaty walking around and had to change to a black blouse 

What I did beforehand: ate 13 slices of manchego and a handful of peanuts

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Who went with me: a particularly grumpy Bacon Provider

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How I got tickets: online, full-price

Why I saw this show: I read good things about Danai Gurira’s plays, and thought that I might dig an all-women cast; I did. Now, I have been reading about Liberia and am on the lookout for a good book written by a Liberian author.

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Where I sat: front row, center, amongst some east and west coast arts administrators. At intermission, the man closest to me asked the woman he was with if the child seated next to him was a boy or a girl. I did not hear her reply. The child had a dark-blonde, dyed mohawk, and a couple of earrings and was with the couple on the end, from L.A. Why, I wonder, did he need to know.


Things that were sad: This play features five women enduring civil war in Liberia, and though the word “rape” is used infrequently, it is central to everything that happens. 


Things that were funny: Wife #3, cunningly played by the effusive Pascale Armand, is tragically hilarious, irresistibly complaining, and deliciously deceitful. She is my favorite female character since I started the “I saw” project. 

Things that were not funny: I mean. I think Liberia was dreamed up as a solution by early American white supremacists as a place to send freed slaves. Their constitution and flag are modeled on ours. Maybe they were never colonized, but their recent civil wars spanned 14 years. Today’s Liberia is notable for its low literacy rates (33% among women), very high risk of infectious disease, lack of sanitation and clean drinking water, high infant and maternal mortality, and short life expectancies. This play dramatizes how rape was deployed as a weapon against women in wartime.

What it is: a play with one, fifteen-minute intermission, with a strong cast, including an Academy-award winning actress

Who should see it: people prepared to laugh despite dire circumstances, people who want to see plays written by women, people who want to see plays with female actors, people who are not especially sensitive to portrayals of rape victims or casual descriptions of repeated sexual abuse by soldiers.

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What I saw on the way home: On the next block of W 45th, the sidewalk was too crowded for us to make headway; the audience from “Kinky Boots” was spewing from a theater. So, we walked in the street.