Othello & Otis

cabaret & variety bag o' bones collective · Ages 18+ · world premiere · United States of America

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Review by JULIA LISA

June 07, 2018 certified reviewer
tagged as: Divised · dance · songs · abstract · History · America · race relations

What I liked

I found the most compelling, powerful, and effective moments in rhythmically stomped songs and movement dance pieces. It conveyed the emotions of the different black experiences throughout history. The Obama speech was a beautiful representation about how to expertly communicate and bridge the divide of Black and While America. The piece sparked great conversations in the audience. I am interested to have more conversations about this.

What I didn't like

At times the tone felt like a strict lecture, and at times condescending leaving me (as described in the show, a “white liberal”) feeling wrong for being born with a certain color skin, wrong for the sins of white Americans throughout history (maybe that was the point?), or are we trying to build a bridge of communication on this issue. How do we move forward from here? How do we build a bridge? The piece seemed very cathartic for the actors, which I wholeheartedly understand, but I want to empathize and not feel on the outside of an issue.

My overall impression

An important perspective and dialogue to have through the lens of black artists, characters, and public figures throughout history. This divised piece combines elements of song, chants, dance, movement, speeches, and text. With a timeline in the program dating back to 1607 when slaves were brought to Jamestown, VA, and continues through many major horrors and milestones effecting African Americans, to present day, where the quote “I’m terrified at the moral apathy – the death of the heart – which is happening in my country.” rang true.

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