Broadway Plays the Race Card

PlayBlog   Broadway Plays the Race Card
David Mamet's new work Race touches on an American issue ever-present in the age of President Barack Obama. But, the title topic has already proven something of a recurring theme this season.

For plays: A Steady Rain centers on two hardened Chicago cops who deal with issues of racism and tolerance on the beat and in their own lives. Superior Donuts finds a white donut shop owner suddenly confronted with letting his new African-American hire into his personal life. And in In the Next Room, a new mother is tentative about letting a woman of color nurse her newborn baby.

On the musical front, the issue also arises: Bye Bye Birdie sees songwriter Albert Peterson's overbearing mother disapproving of his relationship with his Latina secretary Rose Alvarez. The 1950s-set musical Memphis is filled with racial tension as one of the first white DJs to play black music falls in love with a black songstress. The revival of the musical Finian's Rainbow features a bull-headed white man who is turned black and finds himself on the opposite end of bigotry. Ragtime, set in the early 1900s, centers on three major groups: upper class WASPS, African-Americans and Eastern European Jewish immigrants.

And now Mamet's work (currently in previews) focuses on the issue, setting his tale at a mixed ethnicity law firm that takes on a case of a white man who is charged with a crime against a black young woman.

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