This entry was originally published by the Chicago News & Events Examiner.
As with most live events, the last scene or selection is usually placed that way to save the best for last. And during a 7 p.m., play on Mon., March 3, in Chicago's Goodman Theatre, that was what happened with the final play of seven total: "Two Years Later."
A packed house gathered together to see a one-night only collection of plays, "Facing Our Truth: Ten-Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race and Privilege" in the theater located at 170 N. Dearborn St. The six-play series is in association with Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater and was free to the public.
The seventh play "Two Years Later" after intermission was featured by writers Jelisa Bettes, Brandi Lee, Vanity Robinson, Alfonzo Smith Jr., Ethan Viets-Vanlear and Kristyn Zoe Wilkerson.
The six-person speech was a prime example of how it doesn't take characters or a fancy scene or excessive vulgarity to get a powerful point across about race, privilege, class, gender, history and the ammunition behind the play: 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. However, the first speaker wearing a hoodie with "LEADER" spelled backwards and upside down made for an intriguing visual every time he spoke.
Each person took a turn telling their story, from personal to political topics. Some memorable subjects included the comparisons of the COunter INTELligence PROgram (COINTELPRO) to the National Security Agency (NSA); Mayor Rahm Emanuel's connection to Chicago school funding; Chicago violence; dating black women; how race affects siblings; the history of hoodies; iconic leaders (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Emmett Till, Marian Wright Edelman); President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder not stopping the FBI's most wanted listing for Assata Shakur; and quotes from anti-Trayvon Martin supporters (Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Geraldo Rivera).
Every single word coming out of the mouths of the "Two Years Later" play was well chosen. The sprinkled jokes in their speeches worked, and even the charismatic nod from the "LEADER" speaker earned grins from the ladies. Whether serious or funny, every word uttered mattered so much that the play could've gone longer with no complaints. The presenters were that good at reciting their memorized words with conviction. It is one thing to know the lines. It is another for an actor to make audience members feel like they really lived every single thing they said.
And while the sounds of snapping fingers, ice from drinks being slurped, approving grunts and shouts from the crowd to the actors grew annoying, it was almost impossible not to understand where some of the audience was coming from. With every word, co-signers wanted to let the presenters know, "I get it. I'm with you."
What a way to end a play.
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