I’m on the local theater email group list. As such, I get free and discount tickets to many local theatrical productions. Yesterday I volunteered to be a recorded voice for a local play in which only two women appear on stage. Since the play has yet to be performed, I can’t comment on it, other than to give you the plot summary that the author gave us. It’s a play about a Black Panther who is accused of killing a white police officer. The daughters of the two men each believe their fathers’ stories. The play is about their conflict. The idea for the play came from the Mumia Abu Jamal case.
But as a participant in many protest rallies, it was fun to discover that the needed voices were for a rally to “Free Rashid!” I remember attending rallies in the 60's at which I heard babies shout. Among their first words were, “Free Huey!”
In order to make the rally sound as realistic as possible, we volunteers were told to stand in the alley behind the Adrienne playhouse where traffic sounds can be heard from two adjacent streets.
As we shouted, “Free Rashid!” people who live along the alleyway opened their windows to look out. Some opened their doors. One man offered to let his daughter Rashi come out to play.
People stopped and asked us what we were protesting, and why in that alley. Cars drove down this narrow alley in both directions, but miraculously not at the same time. We stopped our protest to let them through.
The woman recording our voices had us stamp our feet while we shouted “Free Rashid!” again. Then she asked for men who were willing to shout, “Cop Killer.” A few volunteered.
The woman said we’d been getting attention from the neighbors with our shouting, but that was nothing compared to what was coming up.
Finally, embarrassed, she asked for a man who was willing to shout. “The N word.” Nobody volunteered. Finally, the author of the play volunteered. He thought it would be fun at the Q&A after the performance to be able to say that it was his voice that did the shouting.” I listened during the next round of recording. I didn’t hear “The N word.” But perhaps the shouters were simply closer to the microphone, so they wouldn’t bother the neighbors.
Now there’s a consideration we never had at a real rally. Then again, this fake rally may be more thought-provoking than any of the real ones ever were. At the real ones, I don’t think anyone’s mind was ever changed. I hope this play gets people to think.