BLUES FOR ALABAMA SKY – Manimekalai Ramaswamy, TGS

Set during the Great Depression and the Harlem Renaissance, Pearl Cleage’s riveting play hits the stage on September 21st. Blues for an Alabama Sky starkly portrays the challenges of race, homosexuality and the conflicting views of the time, with an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars rated by various news articles and interviews about award-winning “Orange is the New Black” actress Samira. Wiley as the main character was the center of attention in this crowd-pleasing production.

As soon as I entered the theater, my eye was drawn to the stunning ensemble, so true to a 1930s Harlem tenement. I couldn’t take my eyes off it; the smallest details were always so exquisite: the apartment building with fire escapes, vintage posters and vintage gramophones. K Bingham, a drama teacher at Townley Grammar School, thought that while there was a “sense of grandeur, there was also a “sense of wretchedness”. The show I went to was unfortunately missing the famous Samira Wiley and the complex lead character ‘Angel’ was played by Helena Pipe instead. J French, another drama teacher at Townley, said: “People were a bit disappointed we didn’t get Samira Wiley, but having said that, Helena Pipe did an excellent job with a different take on the character.” K Bingham thought she created a “broken woman” beautifully; “she fought to be something or someone, and yet she fought for next to nothing”. I found the character very conflicted between her tragic cyclical love life and those who truly loved her. When the game ended I thought – ‘Angel? What a paradoxical name.” In my eyes, she was the opposite of Angel (of course I don’t want to spoil anything, go see for yourself!). Although the first half of the show was mainly comedic, tragedy struck in the second half, changing the lives of all the characters and showing the raw nature of Angelo. Although Angel was the star of the show, many viewers seemed to prefer other characters such as Delia Patterson and Guy Jacobs. Guy (my favorite character), the charismatic best friend of Angel, was exuberantly played by the hilarious Giles Terera and the audience loved him very much. He exemplified the best qualities you could have in a friend while also being the optimistic and ambitious beacon of the show. I sympathized with his desire to fulfill his dreams and how he lifted others up in the hardest of times. Delia (someone I also quite liked) was played by actress Ronke Adekoluejo. Being K Bingham’s favorite character, she spoke of her ‘calm and collected nature, but at the same time she wanted to be still and have fun with others, but forced herself to be more serious and sensible because of what she believed in.’ She thought Ronke played her in a very ‘playful and restrained’ way and he gave a really good performance. I thought Delia was a very complex character, similar to Angel, but personality-wise – the opposite of Angel.

I love how the play focuses on the lives of ordinary people from the past so naturally, unlike how other famous historical plays like Hamilton and Six (other productions I would definitely recommend watching) focus on historical figures who in the world they made big changes. melodramatic nature. I also felt that games like Hamilton are so set up to make the main character a straightforward heroic protagonist, and in a way it feels like they’re advocating for the main character and in Hamilton’s case America. While Blues for an Alabama Sky is not only much more intimate, but also captures the idea of ​​an imperfect and flawed protagonist who, for once, is not the most popular character.

Asked for expert opinion, J French said: “It was extremely well paced, there was a real range of emotions, it appealed to different parts of the audience’s feelings: it made us laugh, but it also encouraged us and gave us a sense of hope and disappointment.” Meanwhile K Bingham thought 4.5 stars was the right rating, as did many others, but when averaging through the ratings of a class of 11 with 24 students, the average dropped to 4. Many liked the game’s characters, but felt the story was incomplete. This was the view of Esther Soares, a student at Townley Grammar, who said: “The set and everything was wonderful and I enjoyed the play all the time. Unfortunately, it didn’t feel like a full game.” They said their favorite scene had to be the ending. “I’m a fan of cyclical structures in games. Angel consistently portrayed himself as a victim, unable to understand the complexities of people. After all the trauma we’ve seen her inflict on others, she still lacks the self-awareness of her own wickedness. I will say that Angel accepted my pity and empathy in some parts of the plan, and when she started the cycle again towards the end, the game was really exciting and thought-provoking.” When asked if they would go see the game again despite the slightly expensive price tag, most of the audience answered yes, especially Victoria Azu: “It’s different from any normal play you’d go to see in the theater, it was something new, interesting and captivating.” Most reviews (including mine) of the production referred to this , that it’s a very significant production, both celebrating black history and homosexuality through the challenges they may have faced during the Great Depression along with other current issues at the time, but balanced it just right with an adorable amount of comedy and romance. I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to start booking tickets now; last day to watch is November 5th!

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