port of harlem magazine
woolly mammoth theatre
Was Witnessing “Fairview” Part of my Destiny?
September 26 – October 9, 2019

chinna palmer

Was witnessing “Fairview” part of my destiny?  Days before seeing the 100-minute production at Woolly Mammoth Theater in Washington, D.C., I spontaneously joined a discussion at the Alexandria Black History Museum on race and White supremacy.

From the press write-ups, I knew “Fairview” was also about race.  I did not know that it would be a highly creative, higher level version of the Alexandria discussion, while being entertaining.

The play opens with a beautiful Claire Huxtable-type set by scenic designer Misha Kachman.  As the play moves forward, it’s funny, it’s entertaining, and the Black family is so all-“American.” 

When the play turned from interesting to super creative was when playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury’s  storytelling and unique methods of having her audience face race, ideas, and perceptions took center stage - - even overshadowing the superb acting.

By the end of the play, however, I thought the show had gotten quite out-the-box, some may even surmise it as totally bizarre. The last minutes of the performance even seemed to drag on. However, Chinna Palmer, as Keisha, used the last minutes of the performance to further showcase her acting talents and complete ownership of the role as the family’s teenage daughter.

While the play was pleasantly mentally challenging, the free post-discussion added to the overall good experience. The talks follow each performance.

Build With, an antiracist facilitation practice, facilitates the post-show conversations. Participation in the talks is voluntarily, but I strongly encourage you to participate to more fully embody your witnessing the performance.

In the group for Blacks and other non-Whites, one patron said she found it interesting to “hear White people’ perceptions during the performance.
While the play was pleasantly mentally challenging, the free post-discussion added to the overall good experience. The talks follow each performance.
On the heels of the Alexandria Black History Museum and Port Of Harlem hosting Dr. Nemata Amelia Ibitayo Blydenon’s talk on her book “African Americans and Africa: A New History,” I found it deeply interesting to hear Blacks react to the play and White supremacy by revealing their divergent views on their relationship to the homeland.

With the play and discussion behind me, I left the play whole and walked to the bus stop. Before reaching the stop, I ran into the facilitator of the Alexandria, Virginia race discussion. Yes, it seems like witnessing “Fairview,” was part of my destiny and if it part of yours, you should heed to the call. 
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