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T2P23 – White Noise

Happy Monday people! How was the past week? I hope last week’s blog served as some motivation to get on with Admin! I saw on the news that Melbourne has finally come out of lockdown, they had been in it for 262 days, the world’s longest. I can only shudder at the thought of having to endure such a long lockdown. Although the rumblings about another potential UK lockdown are really seeming to gain some traction with the surging cases. Even last week it prevented me from attending the BAME into Leadership conference in person frustratingly, which was still a very engaging and inspiring event. However, it did prevent me from going to see Dave Chappelle and Bridge theatre to see White Noise. White Noise was written by Suzan-Lori Parks and directed by Polly Findlay, it was a captivating play, with A LOT to unpack, so let’s do just that.

I’ll be giving my 2 Pence on this play on racism. The play follows four old college friends, Leo, Ralph, Misha and Dawn, and how an incident of police brutality leads to a unique and outlandish experiment. Leading to them pushing themselves to places of possibly no return against their better judgement.

For me the themes that I saw in the play ranged from parallels to the Stanford Prison experiment owing to the roles explored by both Ralph and Leo, and how it quickly warped their relationship. It also explored the difference in perspective that comes from being of different races, in the forms of interracial dating and friendships, dating generally is complex but it’s made further complex when you date interracially or outside of your nationality (i.e Zimbabwe & Nigeria) as you are dealing with people who’ve lived opposite experiences/ ha different upbringings. The play is able to show that not all your friends have the range or interest to be able to understand all your experiences. The contrasting view on the role race plays in hiring is also explored, delving into how often when people are passed up for promotions in favour of someone else. The assumption from someone white could be that it’s to fill a quota rather than the person’s ability or their own skill gap, a shortcoming that’s acknowledged by Ralph’s partner Misha. Blind to how many opportunities they’ve been presented with through nepotism or affinity bias. It also explores this in feelings of white ‘guilt’ and the feelings of the fatigue of being woke and quite literally how both white members of the group (Ralph & Dawn) miss their days of blissful ignorance.

I thought each actor performed their role well, and they were able to capture the complexities of friendships and relationships. Even with it being an American cast, the incident of police brutality in the play was one that could easily be felt in the UK, especially with the events of this last year. I do feel that Dawn’s character was not built on, Misha’s character was humorous and had a strong rapport with both Leo and Ralph. I may have resonated with the two male performers more due to gender, but Ralph was able to relish in his ‘role within a role’ in the play. Beginning the play as a jaded white man who exhibits racist undertones, to a full-blown racist who’s been empowered in that thinking. Leo’s portrayal was good, especially the tunnel vision demonstrated as you could almost understand why his friends would actually entertain such an experiment.

I mentioned I begun watching the Netflix series Abstract in a prior blog, one of the episodes was based on stage design. It really went a long way in explaining the value in design in enhancing the production. This was apparent in White Noise, the use of props and sound effects to lead into seamless transitions and build tension is excellent in enhancing the play. The use of lighting, from the timing to different colours displayed on the stage captured the change in tune with the plot developments.

Whilst I found the plot engaging and bold, it was loose and I felt the ending was too abrupt. White Noise will continue to be performed at Bridge Theatre until 13th November, so if you have the time get their and let me know your 2 pence of it.

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