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OpenForum Blog:

Show #3: THE SHIPMENT

Posted on May 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

All this week, we will be announcing our 2014/2015 season, Forum's 11th. We have asked members of Team Forum to talk about why the shows were selected and why they are so excited to see them onstage.

 

Our third show:

 

THE SHIPMENT
written by
YOUNG JEAN LEE


Winter/Spring of 2015

#ForumShipment

 

 

 

 

 

by Michael Dove, Forum's Artistic Director

 

 
 
"[The Shipment explores] just how much skin color continues to frame the way we see each other—even in a post-race, Barack Obama-electing America. It’s an early example of what will hopefully be an avalanche of smart, fearless work that brings the same fresh feel to the artistic conversation about race that is said to imbue today’s politics." 
 
There is a moment in THE SHIPMENT that, when I saw it in 2009, stopped my heart.
 
Not a heart attack---but an honest moment of revelation that hit me harder than any piece of theatre ever had before. It stopped my body from functioning: my heart, my lungs...I was frozen and it changed the way I saw the world around me in an instant.
 
THE SHIPMENT was my introduction to Young Jean Lee. She is one of the most fearless and provocative writers around, in any medium. Lee famously starts each project by asking herself "what's the play I least want to write about?" She dives into the play that challenges her the most, the play that most scares her.
 
This spirit to push one's boundaries transferred to me when I was directing, CHURCH, Forum's first Young Jean Lee play. As someone raised in an evangelical home, its portrayal of honest and earnest Christianity scared (pardon the phrase) the hell out of me. It made me confront some aspects of my identity that I had buried or written off as no longer in need of further exploration.
 
 
At the same time I knew it would also be a piece that a majority of our community would find somewhat foreign and exceedingly alien. It would provoke our audience to look at people of a particular faith differently.
 
When Howard Shalwitz, Woolly Mammoth's Artistic Director, came to see the show, we talked about that idea and how it was what appealed to me in Young Jean Lee's work. He asked if I'd ever consider producing any other her other scripts and I admittedthat, "I love THE SHIPMENT---but that play really scares me."
 
He's been daring me to do it ever since.
 
Not only does THE SHIPMENT confront our notions of race and challenge our preconceptions of those all around us, it challenges the way theatre, itself, has approached this discussion. This is not a "race" play like you've ever seen. It is not a tidy package of cathartic, "guilt-inducing-so-we-can-all-go-home-having-felt-something" theatre. It is a play that will stop your heart and stick with you for days, weeks, and years to come.
 
A great play makes you see, hear, or even smell the world around you in a new way. It gives you insight into the lives of others that you didn't have, before.
 
THE SHIPMENT is that type of play, and once you see it, your world won't be the same, after.
 
 
 
Young Jean Lee on how she started as a playwright:

 

The trailer for the Young Jean Lee 's Theatre Company production of The Shipment:

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