POST: 'Until the Flood' - I wanted to explode with frustration as I watched

What it's about.

Racism, police brutality and the varying perspectives of “black” and “white” folk.

My experience.

Until the Flood hit me like a torpedo of emotion; calling race relations out for what they were in Ferguson, Missouri. Perspectives of stories surrounding Michael Brown’s death were voiced by one actress - a woman of color who switched back and forth between personas like a chameleon. Her ability to act as different characters like the “White Woman, age 50” or “Black Male, age 17” left my jaw hanging in shock. When playing young characters, her energy left me alert. When playing old characters, I felt as though her appearance also transformed. The characters she played were sometimes oblivious to racism while others were burdened by it.

I wanted to explode with frustration as I watched. Tears swelled my eyes as a black teen battled self-hate, questioning his worth through the eyes of a society that failed Michael Brown and other people of color. My heart throbbed when he put a gun to his head at the scene’s end. I watched in anger as a white man voiced his opinion too matter-of-factly. I sat on the edge of my seat annoyed at characters who couldn’t decide how they felt. I sat in that theater wondering if anyone felt the events unfolding as passionately as I did.

When the play ended, the room was lit with candles memorializing Michael Brown’s death. I tearfully wondered if anyone cared, like truly cared about the effects of racism. As I wiped my tears, I found that this young woman to my left also had her eyes reddened with tears. Then I paused when I noticed she was around my age. Someone my age was at the theatre! And she empathized with those affected by racism, too!

As I prepared to leave, we exchanged a look. "That look" of a human who understood the pain, the sorrow, and the stories which unfolded on that stage.“That was heavy, wasn’t it?” she said. I sat in my seat amazed. At all of the plays I’ve gone to, I’ve never made a conversation with anyone. And then her friend Noah, also approached with reddened eyes and deep sighs.

This play sparked a conversation about race and our world as we sat in a nearby pizza shop for nearly two hours trying to understand the characters' emotions and our own. I found that Addi (an aspiring actress from Sweden) and Noah (an aspiring designer from Texas) had such different experiences and understandings of race yet still agreed that racism was still present and needed to be addressed.

After pizza with these new friends, I went home thinking of how Until the Flood had truly started a flood. A flood of conversation. And that’s what theatre does for so many people. That’s why myself, Addi, Noah and young people go to the theater. To get a glimpse of a world where everyone matters, broken things can be fixed and everyone truly cares.

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