April 5-15, 2012

UPDATED: Justice, Sarah. This is America.

UPDATE: Please forgive my tardiness in posting this image on our blog. I thought it better to get it out to Twitter and Facebook in the immediate moment. Below is the photo member of our ensemble took on March 28, 2012 to show our solidarity with Trayvon Martin’s family.

Broadway’s original Sarah, Audra McDonald, our inspiration for this action, actually responded and retweeted the photo to her Twitter following. The result, as I understand it, was about 20,000 hits to Duke’s Ragtime webpage in about a 48 hour period. In the weeks of performances, a number of audience members connected the tragic end of Coalhouse with that of Trayvon. This is both a testament to the immediacy of theater, it’s ability to offer us a way to connect past-present-and future. It is also a sad indictment of persistent strands of bigotry, violence, and fear that run through the warp and weft of our country.

ORIGINAL POST: While you all were getting further acquainted with the fuller set in our Reynolds Theatre space, I was finishing up the program notes and marveling once again at how resonant the storylines of Ragtime seem to be. I’m not sure how much that signals the power of narrative, the centrality of conflict to pulse of theater, or is a more depressing indication of how little things change even as the times change.

As many of you may be as well, I have been transfixed by events in Sanford, Florida and the widening demonstrations demanding justice for a tragedy that carries echoes of Sarah’s beating death at the end of Act I because of her perceived threat. We are not the only Ragtime folks who have a connection on our minds. Audra McDonald, who originated the role of Sarah on Broadway and is now starring in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess now playing at Broadway’s Richard Rogers Theatre, tweeted the photo below taken before this past Sunday’s matinee.

Cast & company of Broadway's Porgy & Bess before a matinee performance.

It shows the cast and company of Porgy and Bess wearing hoodies in solidarity with Trayvon Martin’s family. I cannot but help thinking this gesture was also in response to comments made by Geraldo Rivera this past Friday when he guest hosted on Fox & Friends and said this:

“I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly not to let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin‘s death as much as George Zimmerman was.”

And I cannot help but hear Coalhouse in my head:

The law’s the law.
The law’s been broken
Why should I turn the other cheek?
What about justice!?

2 Comments

  1. Lauren Hendricks's Gravatar Lauren Hendricks
    April 24, 2012    

    I was so move by the company’s decision to support Trayvon Martin and his family in this way (props to Jordan!). After seeing this picture on twitter, my heart swelled with even more pride than I already had for this group of people…if that is possible. “What about justice?” indeed. I can only hope we see justice carried out in this case, as Sarah and Coalhouse were so clearly denied. Bravo to everyone involved!

  2. Andrew's Gravatar Andrew
    April 24, 2012    

    I agree that it was a great idea to take this photo and publish it online. Directly connecting the world of the musical to our current world can help people see the show in a new light. The photo also serves as another way of getting the word out about the show, especially to people who might not otherwise hear about it.

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