Saviour? New play by Esther Armah tackles white privilege in Obama era

Attention New York City: This weekend is your last chance to see a stellar play, Saviour? written by the amazing Esther Armah, which I’ve seen (and Samhita is going to on Saturday) that tackles the very difficult hot button issue of white privilege in the Obama era.

The play is centered around a lawsuit filed by a liberal white anti-racism activist Billy Hall (Jimmy Aquino). Hall is suing his former nonprofit organization for reverse discrimination after a black woman is promoted over him. A black attorney, Michael Jamal Williams III (Michael Green) tenaciously represents Hall in the lawsuit. It appears that Williams will do anything to win the case. Hall is desperate to rehabilitate his reputation and he must win the case to gain back his respectability and prestige.

The interaction between the two men throughout the play is mesmerizing and the dialogue is both witty and almost uncomfortably honest. The way the show deals with the issue of race and the left (as opposed to the tea party right), because yes the left has myriad issues with race, is really the smartest I’ve seen in a very long time. Mixed in with the topic of race is sex, gender, class, family, loyalty, ambition and power.

The discussions sparked by the play are particularly refreshing as race and white privilege are not often talked about. After President Obama won the election in 2008 the mainstream media wanted everyone to believe we were in the so-called “post-racial” era. We are in no such era.

If you are in the NYC area the last shows are this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Dwyer Cultural Center in Harlem and tickets can be purchased here.

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