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A Must See

We Were There: Rachel at New Brooklyn Theatre

Fresh off a week of PD (Professional Development) for my training to be a Performing Arts teacher in Brooklyn I made sure I made time to see a show I heard about through twitter a few days ago. I had two tickets scheduled for Rachel, Friday August 7 and I semi-forced a co-worker of mine to attend the show with me. We were just celebrating our first week of training in Downtown Brooklyn, which was conveniently right around the corner from the Irondale Center.

We got there a little before 7:30 and were provided with free water (!!) before the doors opened and we were met with the rustic set. The location of the theatre, I think, added to its 1916 year backdrop the play provided and the seats weren’t your traditional proscenium stage but rather a thrust stage. That aspect made the play a lot more intimate and personal. I already knew what the play was going to be about so I came prepared, however I don’t think I was fully prepared for the extent to which this play was going to move me.

From beginning to end, I found myself enraptured in the storytelling happening before me on the stage. It was an emotional roller coaster for me as I found myself completely empathizing with Rachel and even seeing myself in her a few times. What’s most startling is that the show was written nearly 100 years ago, and even has traces of first drafts written as early as 1914, and it still resonates with what is happening in America today. A story that starts with a young optimistic black woman who cannot wait to bring a young black life into the world, then is soon hit with the sudden realization that being black in America is no easy feat. She finds herself struggling with what that means for her children and for herself as a mother.

Santoya Fields was absolutely captivating as “Rachel”. Her internal monologues coupled with the brilliant sound design that played audio footage from police related crimes and murders against black lives was particularly chilling. A detail that, once I recognized what was going on, I was suddenly brought to tears by because of the complexity of those moments. The supporting cast- Bonita Jackson, Damone Williams, Temesgen Tocruray, and Lauren Lattimore also had extremely strong performances that made the show even more enjoyable.

At the end of the production there was a talkback with the director and the actors to discuss the production which I found refreshing. I would recommend this show to anyone, whether they enjoy theatre or not, because it’s a story that has value, it’s a story that is real. If you are anywhere in the New York area come down to Brooklyn and go see Rachel, you will be glad you did. The show is open until August 29 and tickets are FREE.

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